Volume IV | April 22, 2020
Week 4: Removing Barriers
In This Issue:
  • Removing Barriers: Wraparound Services & The Power of Community
  • Get to Know Jen Sawyer: Adult Former Foster Youth turned RFLB Volunteer
  • RFLB True Stories: The Hard Road to Overcoming
  • Urgent Needs: Join our Roots!
Removing Barriers: Wraparound Services & the Power of Community
In the past three weeks of the Building Roots Lunch & Learn, we've learned about the harsh reality and barriers many foster youth face with:

...as they transition to adulthood.

We've also looked at the ways RFLB helps youth deal with these realities by filling in life skills, learning gaps and removing barriers so they can reach self-sufficiency through the Wraparound Process of care. The wraparound process is described by the National Institute of Health as " an individualized, family-driven and youth-guided team planning process"

The research also demonstrates, " wraparound can help overcome common barriers to accessing effective services and supports for youth with multiple needs and/or multiple agency involvement "

Often, youth become overwhelmed and feel hopeless about finding the services they need because they are spread across multiple agencies and organizations and often lack transportation. RFLB is unique in that we are set up as a drop-in center where, under one roof, youth can come to find the support they need, the resources available, and the guidance to develop their unique, coordinated care plan.
This requires a great deal of collaborating and partnering with other community agencies and organizations.

In this video... Corrie Dunkin from RFLB is honored to host Kristy Stuart, Executive Director of Love INC, one of our many community partners in serving youth in transition for a discussion on one such collaboration as an essential component of how we work together to remove barriers. Also, please check out their Village Thrift shop where they offer some fantastic deals in support of foster parents!
And finally, and perhaps, the most important aspect of removing barriers has to do with what these young adults believe about themselves.

Without a consistent familial message from childhood that says, you are needed, you are important, you matter, you are worthy of love and belonging, many of our clients describe their greatest barrier as themselves- the loss of hope that what they do or don't do, who they are, doesn't really matter.

Like our friend Jen Sawyer describes so poignantly through her experience below, the greatest and most important barrier RFLB has the hope to remove is the harsh and cruel view so many of these youth, so full of potential from our view, have of themselves.
Get to Know Jen Sawyer: Adult Former Foster Youth turned RFLB Volunteer
Hi, my name is Jennifer. This is my husband, James.

I was in foster care from 12-18. I have lived in Florida, Washington, Canada, New Jersey and then back to Florida. I am married and I have 4
children ages 4-16.

I have been out of foster care for 15 years. It took me 15 years to figure out my life. In that time I have never before felt led to become involved with foster youth until I met Pam Bress and found out about Ready for Life Brevard.

I had 2 children before I was 20. I lived in New Jersey where I knew nobody because I
moved out there with $70 and a backpack when I first turned 18. I wanted a fresh start. I learned a lot and overcame a lot. There was even a point in
time I was taking a bus to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission (a shelter) when I was pregnant with my second child because I was homeless.

Recently, I met Pam at a foster care event. I was speaking about some of my story for the first time ever. When I heard Pam speak, everything in me was ignited. I knew that my purpose was with her and Ready for Life Brevard. To do anything and everything I can to contribute to foster youth in transition.
Jen is now leading our first youth support group via Zoom. She is a phenomenal writer, friend, mom, and RFLB Volunteer.

In everything she does and says, she inspires everyone of us at RFLB who have the great privilege to know her to go the extra mile, laugh a lot, have fun, and find the courage to share your story because it matters and it's more powerful than you know, and to never give up hope that you have the power to create a better ending.

Jen, we couldn't be happier, prouder, more honored to have you as such an integral part of our Roots and the RFLB Family!

Ms. Pam and Corrie
RFLB True Story
The Hard Road to Overcoming: Interview with Jen Sawyer
Jen, in your experience, what are the three biggest barriers that keep foster youth from successfully transitioning to adulthood?

1. Lack of resources-not knowing where to start
2. Nobody to disappoint or answer to
3. Lack of belief they are capable of or worth it. 

What do you think RFLB can do to help remove these barriers?

1. Lack of resources- not knowing where to start: I think RFLB understands the foundation of why this is an issue. You can throw as many resources and classes at a person as you want but most of the time that is all it is, a class. It's overwhelming and a lot and usually when something is overwhelming and a lot it gets put off. RFLB has shown me that they are willing to take each youth individually and determine what resources are needed. They determine how and what information to provide regarding these resources. They connect the youth based on  individual  needs. I think this is extremely important. 

2. Nobody to disappoint or answer to- Connection: RFLB wants more than a process with their youth. They want a connection. When I was younger and used to get into trouble I found it ironic when I went to court it would read, The state of Florida vs. The state of Florida. I was a ward of the state and I was being charged by the state. When I did something wrong, nobody cared. My children's biggest fear when they get in trouble is answering to my husband or myself. Disappointing us. Foster youth often do not have this. When I aged out of care it was the same thing. I wasn't embarrassed or upset by mistakes or actions I made. I think providing a connection with these youth creates accountability. It creates someone you want to call when you get a job, or complete a class or buy a car. You can share your goals and achievements. This creates drive. Drive leads to success. 

3. Lack of belief they are capable of or worth it- Unconditional Acceptance: A lot of youth in foster care move from home to home. There is no stability and the idea that they are not worth it can be instilled over and over and over again. The most important thing I heard Pam say when she spoke was, I don't give up. It doesn't matter what is done I'll keep trying. I think having someone say that and mean it not only provides faith in the program but also belief in yourself. This then allows you to set goals with success in reach. I remember in 2016 when my husband said let's buy a house thinking it was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I never even considered this as possible.  

I think these alone are good, but not enough. Combined is what will make the difference. All of these seem minor and basic. Each of them are things provided by your parent. Your parent who never gives up no matter how much you mess up. Your parent who is so proud of you for the smallest achievements. Your parent who is disappointed when you make a mistake and talks through why and how this can affect you and others. Your parent who knows that you might be a bad test taker and need some additional tutoring before handing you that drivers test. The reason foster youth are at such a disadvantage is because these small details are missing and make all the difference. 

C an you describe any one thing or series of things that helped you overcome the barriers you faced to get you where you are today?  

This is hard to answer. I guess for starters there was a family who believed in me. I was in a program in foster care and the son was my instructor. That alone wasn't enough. Even though they answered the phone when I called and seemed to really care about me, I still succumbed to trauma. So there is luck, or God. After this I would say my child. I had a baby who made me want to do better but that alone wasn't enough either because I didn't have the right tools to make good healthy decisions. I made a ton of bad choices. Choices that could have resulted in a number of things. So  time  is what I think ultimately allowed me to overcome the barriers. I was able to make it long enough to figure it out without creating any lifelong negative impacts.
Join our Roots!

This week we are asking for as many community partners as possible to consider committing a monthly contribution to RFLB.

If we had 100 donors contributing $25 a month, that would add $30,000 to our yearly income or 50 donors contributing $100 a month would provide $60,000 a year!

Each Root, no matter how big or small is necessary for the greater good of the whole. We need you, and each and everyone of these worthy young adults need you too!

Monthly donations as well as one time donations can be made on our secure website by clicking the donate button below. Thank you for your consideration!

Or click here to see the  URGENT HELP NEEDED!   list and instructions about donations.

Contact corrie.dunkin@readyforlifebrevard.org
with questions or for more information.
Run for Your Life

Music and Lyrics by Brad Brewer
Recorded Live for Ready for Life Brevard
Our donor list is growing. Thank you to all past and present donors !

We are honored to have your trust in accomplishing the worthy mission of RFLB. We are currently serving 20 youth and seeing the positive impact already in their lives!

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