JUNE 21 MEETING
Fostering Hope: Perseverance in the Face of Adversity
“We can all forever impact the life of a child in need although they may only be before us for a moment in time” was the inspiring message offered by Regina Calcaterra, herself a former foster child, as she presented to a large group of AAWGT members and guests on June 21st. Drawing on personal experiences, as detailed in her New York Times bestselling book Etched in Sand, Regina described how she and her four siblings endured months of abandonment by their mother, stealing groceries and raiding dumpsters for clothing just to survive. And she admitted that she learned to hide the truth of their home life from outsiders (including social services) to avoid being discovered and split up.
Throughout this ordeal, Regina said, it was small acts of caring that bolstered her spirit and inspired her to dream of a life different from the one she was living. A classmate’s mother washed her clothes and gave her a toothbrush after she went to a sleepover. And a vocational teacher insisted Regina was capable of completing college and encouraged her to apply.
Today, Regina is a successful attorney practicing in New York. Her ability to overcome adversity and develop resilience in the face of such odds has inspired many people to get involved by be-coming foster parents or adopting older foster youth. Her work has also forged policy change, such as allowing children to obtain food from a food bank without being accompanied by a parent, or securing a library card without a permanent address.
Susan Tyzack, Assistant Director of the AAC Department of Social Services, brought the group up to date on the state of foster care in the county. The presentation ended with Regina and Susan responding to a number of thoughts and questions from the highly engaged audience.