TOGETHER 2008: ALUMNI FAMILY REUNION
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2008
STATEMENTS BY ALUMNI MEMBERS OF FCAA
Lupe, Alumna, AZ Sister, Auntie, Mentor, Friend
What is a Family? In the 20 yrs I spent in foster care a family was made up of my multiple case workers, my lawyer, my sister, more than 10 foster families and their children, therapists…
What is a Family Reunion? A planned unique or infrequent gathering of family members or distant relatives.
Who is my Family? Since I aged-out of the foster care system, I no longer had an assigned family, left to create my own…I could not have imagined what an amazing feeling family bring! Through my sister, I am an aunt twice over and a sister in law!
Through my Alumni family, I am one of 12 million, and have family all across this country! Through Arizona State University, I am a sister of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority Inc!
What is my family Reunion? September 20th, I will be my first opportunity to experience my first Alumni family reunion, this will be fun and I will be able to learn what it means to be a part of my Arizona Alumni family! BBQing, playing games, meeting new family members, sharing stories, and seeing how my family has grown! There are many layers to my family, this is one!
Barbara Huggins, Alumna, PA
I think that the family picnic is a great idea for any one who has experienced foster care or who does work surrounding it. I can honestly say that I am quite proud of every fellow foster child that I have come across. There are many of us, and we survive daily. The fact that there is finally an organization that serves to bring us together so that we may support one another is a wonderful one. The picnic is foster care alum being together and becoming each others' family. It is so important to have those permanent connections all through out life. I doubt that anyone ever truly becomes independent. When I am at school, I have a hard time reconciling my identity and finding a straight-lined description of who I am. Whereas, my peers all have had their families cheering them on and shaping their identities. Families are too complex and precious to be lost in the hustle and bustle of the welfare system.
Misty Stenslie, Alumna, VA
Claiming this family tradition as our own is a powerful way to feel connected to the world. Our society is built around families and when you grow up without one, it is so easy to feel isolated and different. The need for a family doesn’t disappear once you hit adulthood—everyone needs someone to call when you have something to either mourn or celebrate, a place to go for the holidays, an unshakable identity and feeling of belonging no matter what is happening. By coming together with others who share the foster care experience and finding the kinship in each other as brothers and sisters, we are making our own families and taking a stand for the ones who come after us in foster care. As a community of alumni, we want to ensure that other young people from foster care won’t grow up without the same traditions, opportunities, and love that most people get from their families.
Jackie Janesh, Alumna, MD
My experience with the alumni community and FCAA lets me know that I now have a family that understands me. I can talk with other alumni in a way I can’t talk with anyone else because we’ve become like brothers and sisters to each other. We want our Family Reunion to bring more awareness in Baltimore and across the state to the needs of youth currently transitioning of care, and we want to make sure those young people know we’re here for them.
Eshawn Peterson, Alumna, AZ
It feels so special to finally have a family reunion because now I connect with the family I never had. I feel like I will finally be recognized as part of a family unit. I believe that we need to remember that we are all brothers and sisters and that we need to support each other, if we don't, who will? This is why I participate and work so diligently, because I want my brothers and sisters to know that though we aren't "traditional or nuclear" we are still family!
Samantha Jo, Alumna, NJ
This event redefines both 'family' and 'reunion' in a way that strengthens us as a community of individuals with a common experience. What I've learned through this and other FCAA events is that alumni together are just like family--we're all different, we may not always get along, but we take care of each other. Just like siblings that are raised together, my brothers and sisters in care both validate my experiences and help me stay strong. Whether it is Thanksgiving on the Capitol steps or a reunion in a local park, we are taking 'family' traditions and making them our own.
Ryan Dollinger, Alumnus, TX
This reunion is my brothers and sisters from government care coming together to claim this tradition as our own. As a community of alumni, we are uniting to stand up for change to make sure that the next generations of youth in foster care won’t grow up feeling alone or forgotten.
Marnie Pollard, Alumna
The Alumni Family is…
A home…without doors that might block our view from where we have come.
A community…in which our sense of belonging comes from our sense of never having belonged.
A classic comic…in which the heroes possess superhuman strength, regeneration, and miraculous resilience.