Monday, June 27, 2016

Foster Alumni: By a Beautiful Lake, They Find Food, Fun, Friends, Freedom -- And So Much More!

Above is a group photo at the first annual Family Fun Day on Sunday, June 26 sponsored by the Massachusetts Network of Foster Care Alumni. It was held at the beautiful lakeside Oxford, Mass. cottage of Ruby Pollock, who grew up in foster care as did her four siblings, including me.

In those days, when foster kids aging out of state care were released to the streets, such a gathering was unthinkable. So for the 60 or so former foster kids there, along with family, and friends, the day was a dream come true! 

Following are some photos from that great day:

Grace Koshinsky, left above, leads the Massachusetts Network of Foster Care Alumni (MassNFCA) and she performed wonders in making Family Fun Day happen. She arranged for funding, volunteers, food, a lifeguard, games, boat rides, and a raffle (which I won, a $100 gift certificate at Wall Mart).

She even got tennis rackets for alums to play tennis on a neighbor's court. It was all free for alums. Here, listening to one alum, you can see in her eyes that her whole heart is there for him and his story. She knows how he feels. As a child in Ohio she herself was a foster child for 4 years from age 6 to 10.

Always with an eye for real estate value, Ruby managed to buy a rundown lakeside cottage 35 years ago. Over the years she has redone the kitchen, roof,  plumbing, expanded the beach area, and had a new patio built (feeding me as I built it and all the walls you see in following photos).

Summers Ruby and I often sit out looking at the water and marveling that a couple of former foster kids are sitting out here drinking coffee and taking in all that natural beauty. Not a house. Not a road. Not a store. Not a sound except for the squawking of an occasional hunting hawk. Here are a few photos of alums, friends, and family enjoying it all.

Below, a couple of alums conduct an acrobatic balancing contest for an audience of kids -- who didn't seem to know what to make of it.  In the background, Ruby's daughter Linda takes alums on a tour of the lake in her mom's boat. Not used to such treatment, the alums rode wide-eyed, soaking up the natural beauty all around them.

Did everybody have a great time? Well, check out this closing photo below. It shows my baby brother Reggie and my wife Barbara trying to make me jealous -- it worked! -- while brother Vic's wife Marianne mugs it up for the camera! Reggie's wife Jeanette, in the middle, enjoys the show. This kind of goofing around, joking, laughing went on throughout the day.

Thanks, Ruby. Thanks, Grace. Thank you volunteers for all your hard work. And to all you foster care alums, let me -- as one who spent his childhood in foster care -- say this to you:

You are just as good as anybody out there. What's more, considering what you have gone through, you ... you... YOU may be a stronger and better person than most.  Got that?

You have?  Good for you!

P.S. My ebook, Something Tells Her, tells the story of a 12-year-old foster girl. It is fiction based on cruel reality. Read  excerpts. For info on all my ebooks, click here. 

P.P.S. How did the five of us build successful, happy lives?   Not interested? Do what you're told and read this.