I’ve been invited by New Yorkers for Children to run some training sessions with their Youth Advisory Board, a group of young people who are or have been involved in foster care. The YAB is going through a particularly interesting transformation: It started off as an informal monthly social group that gathered around pizza, but recently members have expressed a desire to organize around the issue of foster care. This past May they successfully hosted a literacy project to encourage younger kids in care to cultivate a love of reading. As with any transformation, however, the YAB is experiencing growing pains. Coming out of that experience, many of the members expressed a desire to give their group more of a structure and a well-defined vision.

To this end, they’ve come up with a mission statement, and in their next meeting they will be electing four officers to occupy the posts of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. But even so, this core group, and the YAB as a whole, still faces the principle challenge of forming a stable and lasting organization—and building an effective team—out of a membership that by nature tends to be transient. I’ve been working on a program for the past two weeks that will address team building, leadership, and communication—problems that haven’t explicitly come up in my program development for other clients, but which all have to do, broadly, with the aspects of adulthood in terms of finding your voice (credo, communication style) and making a place for yourself in the world (mission, community).

The first step in getting this program off the ground is having the YAB members fill out a survey that asks them to reflect on their general experience with the group, their particular opinion of how the project planning and execution went, and their vision for themselves and for the group going forward. It asks them not only to identify present difficulties in the organization, but also to assess their own performance in the group. What do they need to change in order for the group to function better? This survey will give me a quick read of the group dynamic and see what the priorities should be in their training.

I’m very glad for the opportunity to work with NYFC. Thanks again, Lynne and Harry, for putting in a good word for me!


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