We talk a lot at the R.J. Leonard Foundation about goals – setting them, working toward them, achieving them. We ask all our Fellows from their first meeting on to be willing to progress toward education and career success. We encourage our Mentors to focus on these plans in one-on-one meetings. And we celebrate privately (at dinners, on calls, and over coffee) and publicly (in newsletters, blog and social media posts, and at our fundraisers) when our Fellows achieve their goals.
However, as important as these goals and making progress toward them are, they can’t always be the main focus for a Fellow. Our Fellows – like everyone else and in many ways even more so – face obstacles in their lives. They find unexpected challenges in the everyday, as they attempt to work toward the long and short-term goals they set. Whether it is a failed permit test, a lost job, an unexpectedly high utility bill, or a personal matter, there are times when our Fellows feel stuck. They must turn away from their long-term plan to address a, hopefully, short-term problem, and that pivot can make the ultimate goal feel impossibly far away.
We may not always say it. It may not always feel true to them. But it is during those moments, when they must pivot, that we are especially proud of our Fellows. They do not give up. Yes, they feel frustrated and overwhelmed. They may even want to scrap their long-term goals. But they don’t. They find a way to overcome the obstacle in their path and, even as they brace for the next delay, even as they find themselves two steps farther away, they move forward.
Progress and success don’t come in straight lines. Paths like these are never easy to follow. Our Fellows find a way, and we couldn’t be prouder.
It can be hard to invest time, energy, money into something that doesn’t seem to affect you day to day. That’s why it’s easy to say no when they ask you to round up for a cause at the grocery store or to forget the sad SPCA commercial that ever so briefly struck a (Sarah McLachlan) chord. A willingness to invest in the future of someone or something requires all of us to look outside of ourselves to see the value, the importance.
That value exists in every community, population and individual. It’s why we give to organizations like the R.J. Leonard Foundation, for example. It also exists throughout the world in both the smallest and largest bits of nature. It exists in Earth itself.
We may not notice in the day to day how humanity’s impact on our planet is affecting it and our well-being. Changes to the climate may seem more like blips in weather patterns, for instance. But the health of the Earth impacts each one of us every single day. We must recognize that and take the action we need to invest in our planet. After all, investing in Earth is investing in our future.
This Earth Day, find out how you can help on April 22nd and every day after. Look for organizations locally and throughout the world that are working to make a difference. Then make your own changes at home. Compost, garden, buy less plastic, use fewer or reusable straws. Take the time, energy and money that you have to change the world – now and in the future.
We are a few weeks into spring (though it recently felt like summer). The days are getting longer, the flowers and trees are blooming and we are shedding the last chills of winter. As we do so, we begin to make more plans - maybe just weekend plans but more likely, we are preparing our kids for sports and summer camp. We are thinking about the repairs the house needs, the purchases we put off because of the holidays, and fun adventures ahead. The same is true of our Fellows, as they look toward summer classes and fall semesters, new jobs, summer camps, kids’ growth spurts and more. But what is so often different for our Fellows is the ability to afford those plans, to make those moves. Tuition may be covered but room and board is not. Summer camp may come with scholarships but do those scholarships cover before and after care? And who can really afford yet another pair of shoes for their ever-growing child?
At the R.J. Leonard Foundation we work with our community partners to help our Fellows see through their plans and reach their goals, not just for the summer but for the years ahead. Be a part of that. Donate at rjleonardfoundation.org or email email@example.com to find out how you can get involved.
Imagine being taken from your home. Even when that home is abusive or neglectful, it’s traumatic. Imagine being moved from placement to placement, group home to foster home to shelter, as so many older youth are. It’s disruptive, nearly impossible to create routine and feel safe and stable. Now imagine being a young person who experiences the world a little or a lot differently while experiencing foster care. Imagine being a young person living with autism. How much harder must it be?
Children living with autism are 2.4 times more likely to be in foster care when compared to their neurotypical peers. They deserve the services, resources and professionals they need to help them best manage. While those within the child welfare system try, they often fall short for a variety of reasons. The best way to improve the services available to children in care with autism is to raise awareness and acceptance - your own and the community’s - about what autism is and who the children on every segment of the spectrum are.
Learn, share, learn some more.