Many thanks to Dreama for welcoming me as a guest blogger. My name is Sharon, and I am a 45 year old single woman living in Manhattan. I will share my experiences as I pursue my goal of becoming a mentor to a teenager in the foster care system.
Jimmy Wayne was the start of this for me. I discovered Jimmy Wayne – his music and his commitment to foster care youth - only two months ago. I am amazed by the stories he tells about his life, and his honesty. I wonder how he got to the point that he can talk about his childhood so openly. Did he introduce it somehow in an interview? Did he always pause in the middle of his songs to explain how he was inspired to write them? Did he worry about not giving enough details, or about giving too many?
I wonder because I lived in a group home myself when I was 13. I never learned to talk about my early life the way that Jimmy Wayne talks about his. Hiding my stories has always been a survival strategy for me. Better not to bother people with unhappy memories. Better not to have them think that something is wrong with me because things went wrong when I was a kid.
And yet here I am, writing a blog and talking about having been in foster care, because I need to explain my new project. I have decided to become a mentor for a teenager who is in foster care. Hearing about Jimmy Wayne sparked something in me, made me realize that I was missing out on the opportunity to help another person. I realized that mentoring a young person in foster care makes perfect sense as the way for me to help.
All those kids who are not wanted at home, who have lost contact with family and friends, who have nothing---I know how they feel. I can understand and be there in a way that might really make a difference (at least I hope so!). I also know how disruptive it is for kids to form an attachment to someone and then lose it after a few months, so I know how important it is to go into this with a long-term commitment right from the beginning.
This one decision to become a mentor has already changed my life. I see this as a way to take all of my experiences, even the painful ones (especially the painful ones!) and use them to help someone else. It's time to stop hiding. There are so many foster kids out there who are lost, and I am going to find one who wants a friend.
I have just begun my quest to become a mentor. More blogs will come as I proceed! I hope you will continue to follow my progress as I describe what it is like to become a mentor---all the questions, the bureaucratic requirements, the training, etc. I already realize that it is not something that will happen in an afternoon. I know that I will need plenty of patience to stay with it.
Thanks to everyone who is supporting Project MMH and reading this. It's inspiring to me to know that so many care enough to become better informed. Knowledge is the first thing we need to change the world around us!