Just before Halloween, Susan asked me to photograph the Family & Youth Initiative (FYI)’s “Establishing Roots” fundraiser. Advocacy for foster children and finding homes for older foster children is an issue very close to my heart (as explained in a previous post) and this event was a perfect example of why FYI’s model is so successful.
That the teens are so comfortable and feel supported by this network of people willing to serve as anchor points in their lives is obvious from watching them interact with the volunteers and each other. The teens greet each other happily, interact with children of host parents (and each other) easily, and are open to new faces and volunteers.
The program included an introduction from Susan, and short speeches by a mentor, a host parent, and some teens themselves. To hear them speaking of finally finding someone to call family (whether adopted or not- mentors and host parents become family to them) reminds us to be grateful for our own family connections. To hear a teen speak about wanting to go to college but not knowing how to make that happen or when to fill out applications or where they would spend Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations . . . and then how they’ve found a network of support in FYI is truly heartwarming.
Or to hear a host parent (someone who brings the teens into their homes at least 2 weekends a month) speak about how at first they couldn’t imagine bringing a teenager into their home talk about how a bond was established through monthly activities is inspiring. Through these events a teenager is no longer seen as “some strange kid” and instead is seen as “James, the teen who loves to cook and cracks shy smiles.” Thank you for another wonderful experience, FYI!
More photos of the event can be found here.
Several days later we celebrated Halloween at AGU– my favorite holiday! In charge of the decorations, I created two themed rooms- one with a general Fall theme (pumpkins, autumn leaves) and one with a scary dungeon theme.
With all of my own Halloween decorations in storage and our own apartment too small for a party, it was a great outlet for my Halloween cravings!
The highlight was the pumpkin decorating contest. Organized by departments, I thought our team had a good chance with our Lady Gaga-themed pumpkin. Especially when we incorporated the glue gun (used to apply the glittery lashes) into the design with the lyric “I’m just stunning with my love-glue-gunnin'” But, alas, we lost to the K-T explosion team . . . disappointing, but fair. 😉