When I was researching an article on foster care for The Advocate, I came across this quote in a brochure on foster care and adoption distributed by the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Growing up is hard enough – imagine doing it alone.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program was created by the Obama administration in June 2012 as a way to give young people, brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents, temporary protection from deportation. This protected status also allows them to work, study and obtain a driver’s licenses and those eligible for DACA are often referred to as DREAMers.
On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced it would phase out the DACA program. The action was twice challenged in the federal courts twice, each time resulting in orders that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) must resume processing requests to renew grants of deferred action under DACA, although brand new applications are not being accepted.
For the latest issue of The Advocate, I spoke with President and CEO of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Michel Zajur and Sookyung Oh, who leads the Virginia chapter of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) about the DACA program, the current uncertainty surrounding it and the work each is doing to promote immigrant rights and issues in Virginia. Read the piece here
For the latest issue of The Granby Drummer I spoke with Tony Cappelli, his wife Anne and their daughters Angela, 19, and Lizzy, 16, about their volunteer efforts as puppy raisers with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. You can read the article online here
Just one fact I learned was that there is an application process to request a guide dog placement. Simply proving a need because of blindness or visual impairment is not enough. Applicants must show that they are willing and able to take care of their dog should they be approved, they must commit to completing a residential training program and to ongoing follow ups for the lifetime of their pairing and must also show that they already possess good orientation and mobility skills.
When you hear the term “guide dog” the impression is that the dog is leading the way, but this is really not the case. Guide dogs don’t know where you want to go or how to get there – they take their cues from their handlers. What guide dogs learn, among many other skills, is intelligent disobedience – or the act of disobeying when following a command or direction would put their handler in danger.
The Cappellis have just finished raising their third puppy and are considering taking in another because they have found the experience to be enjoyable and rewarding, despite the time commitment and the effort required. The article has contact information for Northern Connecticut representatives, but for those who read this from outside the Granby area, you can reach out to Guiding Eyes for the Blind through their website or search other organizations in your area that you can volunteer with or donate to.
When I spoke with Angela Patton a few months ago, I was struck by how direct and open she was. We discussed the CAMP DIVA program she founded in Richmond, Virginia in 2004, its merger with non-profit Girls for a Change and her current role as CEO of that organization. Her passion for her work was clear, from her constant reference to program participants as “my girls” to the story she told of networking and making contacts while on a family vacation because you have leap at the opportunities that present themselves.
Not only has Patton leapt at the opportunities that have come her way, but she has tried to facilitate opportunities for her girls to advance themselves, improve their communities and feel empowered to make their voices heard.
The article that I wrote about Patton, CAMP DIVA and Girls for a Change appeared in the May 2017 issue of The Advocate, the newsletter for Virginia Union University’s Center for the Study of the Urban Child. You can read it here.