Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.
Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Dorin C. Matthews & Sylvia M. Hooper the Founders, Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc.
Dorin C. Matthews has a Bachelor’s in Human Services and a Masters in Social Work. She has been a foster/adoptive foster parent for the past eleven years and has faced many obstacles and challenges, with limited support from foster care agencies. While working as a foster parent advocate within a foster care agency, she observed that services were not being adequately provided to the foster parents and youths. She decided she wanted to make a change and break that cycle. The eleven years of experience motivated her to reach out and help foster youths & foster parents, by providing support, education and empowerment. Dorin believe’s that the key for foster parents & foster youths in order to make changes is unity. Speak up and be heard! That is the only way change will happen.
Sylvia M. Hooper is an adoptive child who went back into the system after her adoptive parents passed away at age 15. She was then placed in kinship foster care, where she did not have a good experience. She has made it her personal mission to advocate for children, individuals and groups who are unable or incapable of doing so. Ms. Hooper has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Adelphi University and has her Masters in Social Work. She has worked for the Administration for Children Services as a Child Protective Specialist and also has knowledge and experience working in the foster care system. She observed the gaps in the foster care system that are affecting the children in care. She also observed the lack of support and guidance that was provided to both the foster parents and children in foster care. It was from her work experience and lack of support and commitment from her colleagues, that Ms. Hooper decided she wanted to take action and help the families and children of the community make a change.
D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?
Dorin: Sylvia and I decided to start a advocacy organization in NYC that services the 5 boroughs for foster youths and foster parents because we noticed that the agencies were not providing the support and assistance that they needed.
Sylvia: Our mantra is to “make the impossible possible.” It is our hope that through the work we do we can empower youth and foster parents to take a stance against the unjust system and not settle for less. E is for Encourage.
E is for Encouragement. What encourages you?
Dorin: As a foster parent, social worker and activist the fight to want to try to make changes and not give up encourages me to get up each day and fight to help the voiceless children. The people I serve encourages us to fight and especially for the foster youths they deserve better and they deserve better for their future.
Sylvia: As a former foster youth who experienced both sides of the coin that being a terrific ideal fostering situation and the latter being not as appealing I have an appreciation for the good foster parents that exist and its through my own challenges I am encouraged to influence others.
R is for Resource: What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?
Dorin: The resources that we bring to the table are both our personal and professional experiences as a foster parent, and Sylvia a former youth that was in foster care. What makes us unique is that we been on both sides of the fence. As activist and social workers we will not be silent about foster care and issues that need to be addressed.
Sylvia: I would say that we both have a personal investment as well as a professional commitment that allows us uniquely connect with our clientele and express the pronounced compassion to various stakeholders.
R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?
Dorin: We both realize that we were ready we we made a complaint against the foster care agency that we work in and nothing was done about it. We both made the decision to do what was right to help the foster children and foster parents.
Sylvia: To be honest I am getting myself ready everyday for the challenges that unfold. It was never a question more so a calling to fulfill a niche that was in dire need of being supported.
I is for Individual. Name at least one person that you know that you feel others should learn about and why?
Dorin: Sylvia Hooper is a former foster youth. She is dedicated and passionate about helping people.I believe just hearing her story and where she came from is important for youths to hear.
Sylvia: On the other hand I feel kinship, non- kinship and adoptive parents can benefit from acquiring some learning techniques from Dorin she took her nephews in without a question and raised them and instilled in them the morals and values of being a strong, independent men.
C is for Continue. When you fail, things look bleak or are not optimistic what makes you want to continue?
Dorin: God helps me to continue to be strong every day and the people who we serve their stories motivate me to want to keep going in order to make changes.
Sylvia: I once heard that the most successful people are those who continue to make mistakes as they are persistent. I hate to fail or make mistakes however that is required in our line of business.
K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?
Dorin: Hard work and dedication is the key in anything that you want to do. Self awareness and knowing who you are and treating people the way you want to be treated.
Sylvia: Networking is essential, having a supportive team to help get your business off the ground whomever that is comprised of collect individuals who have various talents and strengths to bring to the table. Know what you are getting into and don’t walk into things blindly. Be proud of yourself along the way for every accomplishment as it would be a new venture at which you completed.
Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?
Dorin: Stay away from negative people they are dream stealers. Do whatever it is that you want do and don’t let people try to stop you from accomplishing your goals and dream. I leave you with this quote “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”. President Barack Obama
Sylvia: Follow your heart, follow your passion and calling. Its the work you love to do that you don’t get paid for that is the most meaningful and most likely what you should be doing in your life. Lastly, always be grateful for who you are, your talents, shortcomings, and your experience as this is what makes you unique and will allow you to be different from another.
Hear Our Voices-FPA Foundation – from FPA-Foundation on Vimeo.