Friday, March 2, 2012

Children Are Our Future

Judith Ashley
In my mid-thirties I attended a workshop that profoundly affected my life. One aspect of the workshop was a guided meditation where we ‘saw’ why we were here, what our purpose was. What I ‘saw’ was my commitment to the safety and well-being of children. I had worked in child welfare for eight years, over two of those years on the front line, investigating child abuse.

When I left that position, it was to start my own business with two friends. One of our products was training for parents to reduce the risk of their children going into foster care.
I worked with older adults and people with disabilities. Even as adults within us are the child we once were.

While I did not return to child protective service work, I did return to work for child welfare in a program that supported youth aging out of foster care. In addition I did (and do) emergency after hours response for seniors and people with disabilities.
Protecting those who are not able to protect themselves has become my life’s work which is another way to express one’s passion.

I’m fortunate to have people in my life who are still on the front lines.
Kris Bella a founder of Free Arts Northwest and the Executive Director is committed to bring the healing balm of art therapy to disadvantaged and at-risk youth and communities.

Heather Jeffris, Executive Director of Kinship House, has worked all of her professional life to provide a safe therapeutic place for children.

Once you are on their websites, click around and see the amazing work these two organizations are doing.
Children are our future – trite but true. Each of us can make a difference in the life of a child or a vulnerable adult. Sometimes it is as easy as a friendly ‘hello’ and a warm smile. Sometimes it’s as difficult as calling 911 or the Child Abuse Hotline. And sometimes it’s somewhere in between. Don’t ever forget how important you are in someone else’s life. Don’t ever forget why you are here. Don’t ever forget your purpose in life. You are important to many more people than you will ever know.

© 2012 Judith Ashley


Tam Linsey said...

What a great thing to be passionate about, Judith. I remember once when my son was still very young, a woman at the grocery store scowled at him - for no reason. She was just lost in her own world and I don't think she truly saw the little boy with the big grin. But it scared him, and I think affected his budding personality in approaching strangers from then on.
I always go out of my way to smile at children now, and give a little wave of acceptance. No matter my own mood. And you know what? I find I feel better afterwards.

Judith Ashley said...

I also feel better when I smile and 'flirt' with little ones at the grocery store or wherever we are waiting in line...especially when the little one is fussing and the mother is harried.

Thanks for stopping by!

BTW: if you didn't read Tam's post on Feb. 21, you missed a good one. It's easy to find it. You can scroll back 10 days, use the handy Archive tool to the right, or search for her under Tam Linsey with the 'search' tool.

Sarah Raplee said...

I identified with this post on many levels, having worked in child abuse prevention for many years myself.

The organizations you linked to are amazing and do important work. I'm going to talk to my husband about volunteering with one of them.

I hope everyone who reads this meditates on what they are passionate about in life.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks, Sarah...both organizations provide much needed services to vulnerable children and families.

You mentioned in response to Bronwen Evan's post yesterday that many of the women you worked with in a Domestic Violence program had no skills to support themselves and thus remained longer than they might have otherwise. I think the work that these two program do shows girls and boys and their families many different ways to manage their lives...other ways to live in safety, peace and love.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Judity,
Your passion is truly a worthy one. Such a pity that there are not more people like you in the world. You must be a shining light in a dark tunnel to some of these poor children.



Judith Ashley said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for your kind comments. When I was on the front lines as a Child Protective Service Worker I actually removed very few children from their homes. I found that the abuse occurred because of stressed, overwhelmed parents with few parenting skills.

If I had $10.00 (inflation you know) for every time I heard a variation on 'what happened to me was a lot worse' I could fly from the Pacific NW-USA to Australia!

One of the benefits of programs like Free Arts NW and Kinship House is that they assist children and their families to find safe and effective (as well as loving and caring) ways to interact.

The first chapter of The Dragon and The Great Horned Owl (available on my website) is loosely based on one of my experiences as a CPS worker. While I seldom removed children, when I did, it could be a challenge.

Paty Jager said...

Children need advocates and this is a great passion to have. Thank you for all the children I'm sure you have helped.

heather said...

Judith, thanks so much your Passion and kind words truly help small and effective non profits like kinship house and free arts reach out to our larger community. Blogging, fb, and other networking helps us share our mission in providing opportunities for others to help us champion the children in our community. Everyone can help through volunteering, donation and advocacy of caring!

Kristine Bella said...

I agree 100% with Heather Jefferis, the Executive Director of Kinship House. Children and youth are the heartbeat of our work. Individuals like Judith acknowledge and fully understand how important young people are to the future of our society. I thank you Judith for sharing your kind words and helping spread our mission with the rest of the world.
Kristine Bella, Free Arts NW Exective Director.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks, Paty - Every time we smile at a child in a grocery store line or while waiting for the bus, etc. we are doing our part. Every time we distract a fussy child so the parent can finish shopping or loading groceries into the care, etc. we are doing our part. It is true there are professionals who work with these families but so often it is the little things the community does that makes a huge impact.

Judith Ashley said...

Kris and Heather - Thank you both for stopping by Romancing The Genres. It may seem strange that a blog devoted to the readers and writers of romance would be talking about children - but - this month we each are blogging about our passion.

I've had former clients remember a conversation we had that changed their life - I remember the client, not the conversation. The lesson in that is that even as professionals, our impact goes far beyond the formal part of our work.

I'm retirement age now, no longer on the front lines as both of you are. Keep up the Great Work You Do.

And, for anyone reading this comment, please do click on the links and learn more about these quality programs - and if you can, donate to their work. Every little bit helps (an hour a week, one project a quarter or a monetary donation of any amount).

Suzanne Lilly said...

Hi Judith,

Thanks for this post. So many people are unaware of the plight of the children aging out of foster care. In my latest novel, my main character is a young woman entirely alone after she turns 18 and her family turns her out. That's such a risky time in their lives. I've had trouble finding organizations that focus on these particular children. Do you know of any good ones?

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Suzanne,

I think the best organization for youth aging out of foster care that is available after the 18th birthday is The Independent Living Program. Having said that, what is available for how long does depend on individual states.

Feel free to contact me at and I'll see if I can point you in some productive directions.

Your book does highlight a real problem in our country.