Happy 4th of July, all!
Well, the speaking trips to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Sacramento were awesome! I met some of the warmest people…some of them even drove from really far away. I’m so touched and honored. In Wisconsin I spoke at several libraries, so I got to meet fellow “book people”, which feels like coming home no matter where I’m at! In Pennsylvania I got to speak to social services and homeless services workers, particularly those who work in conjunction with the local school districts to assist homeless kids and families.
The most touching experience for me, however, was in Sacramento, speaking at the California Coalition for Youth’s Annual Conference and Rally. I spoke to, and met, some of the awesomest kids there on the planet. Most of these kids had some really painful backstories – they had been homeless, or foster youth who had aged out of the system, or had abusive parents, or were LGBT and were kicked out…you name it, they had been there. Some of them had already been in juvenile hall or prison. They’d had rough starts, but here they were, getting their lives back on track and using their experiences to support others.
The morning after the conference, we rallied outside of the Capitol Building, and some of the kids told their stories and talked about how they wanted to make a difference in their communities. Then we broke up into groups and went into the Capitol and spoke to legislators about passing several laws currently on the table that will help foster youth and the homeless.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Period. These kids brought tears to my eyes and every one of them made me want to be a better person. So young, yet they want to get involved in social issues. These kids are the future, dude. They’re going on to huge things, you can tell. And getting to talk one-on-one with actual legislators and policymakers was awesomeness personified. Other than speaking with Anthony Love (the Obama cabinet member who is the Deputy Director for National Programs at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)…basically the guy who oversees HUD) a few months ago at a homelessness conference in Florida, I had never participated in democracy at nearly such a hands-on level, and now I want to do more.
Looks like I’ll get the chance…The California Coalition for Youth has generously invited me to become a member of their Board of Directors and this week, the nomination process was completed – I’m confirmed! This means that I will get to go to Sacramento several times a year for Board meetings and conferences and try to come up with new and innovative ways to legislate for foster and homeless youth, and talk to legislators some more and ask them to pass those bills into law…as well as lobby against laws that are detrimental to the disadvantaged.
This is probably not very official-board-member-like, but…SQUEE!!!!! I can’t express how grateful I am for this honor. I’ll do my absolute best to represent well.
Otherwise, you know, just truckin’ along with the 9-5 job and everything. I’ve been booked for a few more speaking/signing tours later this year; I’ll post once I have exact dates/times/details for you. There’s also a video coming out soon for AOL’s “You’ve Got…” series where you’ll get to see my apartment. They sent a film crew and everything. Poor people had to cram all this light/sound equipment in my 300-square-foot studio for three hours to film. They were very kind and patient with me. One of them was afraid of big dogs so I had to keep Fez far, far away. It was an experience!
I’ve been at the apartment for nearly 11 months now. I’m still living pretty paycheck-to-paycheck, but have done my best to furnish it over the past almost-year on a shoestring budget. I am nothing if not the master thrifter/Craigslister :-P Hope you guys think it’s cute. It’s kind of got a vintage-y cluttered bookshop air to it, I think. I’ll post when the vid goes up.
Have a safe holiday and enjoy the fireworks!