As a fairly new foster parent, it’s already become clear to me that one of our most important roles is to advocate for our foster kids. Whether it’s for special education programs, medical attention, specialized treatment or therapy or simply their best interests, things just move faster when they have an advocate fighting for them. I’m sure one day the kids will be able to advocate for themselves, but like most foster kids they are at a point in their lives when they aren’t in a position to do that.
Yesterday I was thinking about how everyone has points in their life when they could use an advocate. Maybe they are struggling with a tough situation at home, are overwhelmed at work or just can’t see what they need to do to get one rung higher on that corporate ladder. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, people just get stuck and could use someone to help them get ‘unstuck’… and that person could be you.
Think back to a point in your life when someone took a special interest in you. Perhaps it was a mentor, teacher, colleague, friend or family member. They invested in you with their time and experience to help you overcome the challenge you were up against and because of them, you are where you are today. Most people can think of someone in their life (or if you’re lucky, a few people) that went above and beyond to invest in them. Sometimes you aren’t sure why, sometimes it was someone unlikely and sometimes you didn’t even realize the significant impact that person was making until years later.
Regardless of who you are, your age, your experience, your job title or where you are at in your life, there is someone right now that needs you to advocate for them. To lift them up, to share your experiences, invest your time and just listen and care. You may be the only person that really takes a special interest in that individual. It doesn’t need to be someone that is going through a rough time. It could be someone that has plateaued in their career and can’t figure out how to get that next promotion and needs someone just like you to provide perspective and show them the way. To be their mentor, their coach and their guide on the path to their next big thing.
Today, take time to reflect on all the people in your life; people who are very close to you as well as those that are acquaintances. And then think about who may need you to invest in them and advocate for them. There is a big difference you can make in someone’s life starting immediately – it’s just up to you to take the first step and make the commitment. Be the person that years down the road someone looks back and says “Because of them, I am where I am today”.