Hello, world! Chris is busy preparing to take over the internets with his newest Life Is Transition series of blog posts. While he’s in the lab, I’m going to share a guest post with everyone.
My name is Justin Lee; I’ve been lucky enough to be a supporter of the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board (YAB) since 2001. I currently serve as the statewide coordinator of the YAB where I serve as a professional link for YAB members to help them get their work done. Check the website at www.independentlivingpa.org.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with older youth transitioning out of the child welfare system. I’ve seen a lot. I may have seen it all; there’s been youth sleeping on friend’s couches not sure how long they’ll be able to stay; youth reuniting with family they haven’t seen since childhood; youth (a lot) being accepted into higher education as the first in their family; and youth battling every type of adversity you can imagine.
There’s one common thread that connects all of these youth: they are an inspiration to me.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will bet my bottom dollar and put these youth up against ANYONE to succeed in life. In the media, we usually hear about people living in poverty or those that are disadvantaged looking for “handouts.” I’ve worked with older youth in and out of the child welfare system for over a decade and I have yet to meet one looking for a “handout.” I’ve actually seen the opposite; youth that want to succeed on their own terms by any means necessary. More often than not, I spend my time trying to convince 19 year olds that they don’t have to be Superwoman or Superman.
At 34 years old, I’ve realized these young people that have faced horrible circumstances in their lives, and I mean horrible, have more courage and resiliency than 99% of the population. YAB members and all of their brothers and sisters in the child welfare system aren’t just survivors - they’re winners. Sometimes, the win doesn’t come on time. There’s also times when the losses happen many times before the wins start coming.
Know this: the wins will come for all of these young people. No doubt.
I could stay shouting on this soapbox all day but I won’t. I’ll end with this - thank you. Thank you for energizing me in the cause. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for teaching me about the power of the human spirit and resiliency. Thank you for being you.
Peace and best wishes. Oh yeah, one more thing, when you’re a CEO of your own company or a millionaire try to remember me and hook a brother up!