“I just want someone to listen to me,” said the boy with his hood pulled tightly around his face. He was asking our guest speaker, Michael Wilder, Jr. questions about pain, forgiveness, and trust. “How long did it take you to forgive?” “How long did it take you to stop being angry?” This group of boys had endured abuse and looked to Michael for answers.
Michael Wilder, Jr. is an ex-foster care youth who not only survived years in foster care but is now a successful young man. With only his own determination and grit, he graduated from high school graduated from college, got married and is now working at Starfish Family Services in Michigan. He spoke to the youth about looking inside of them to get through this enormously difficult and painful time. He reminded them that they will get through this… that this portion of their life will pass and they too can become successful and happy adults. He gave them hope.
Take a minute to read this powerful message Michael wrote after he left.
It was an honor to be part of Footpath today. I appreciate you asking me to speak. It is amazing all the things that you and Footpath are doing for the youth. I can see you bring them hope and care consistently. This is something that inspires them to keep going. The work that is being done to change their lives is commendable. I wanted my speech to remind the youth to take back ownership of their lives. To help them understand that sometimes life sucks but we just have to do a little work to make it change. I wanted to give them power. I wanted to inspire them by having them believe in themselves. When you believe in yourself and who you are the sky is the limit.
It is difficult for kids in foster care to accept help because their life has made them feel like they will never get it. I understand them in a way that keeps me up at night. I know their capabilities are endless due to the trials and tribulations they have had to face in such a short life. I used the timing of my life to help them in comparison. They are young and I pray that they know and do the things that will make life great for them much sooner than I did. That is my only regret in my life is how much time I wasted and self-inflicted pain I caused. I see them, and I see me… and we are the same.
The potential for these youths are endless. I wanted to teach them that potentially is great but it’s only potential and nothing more if we never work hard. I wanted to help them understand that they are human, and I understand their pain. I hope my story helps them to see that life goes on and no one owes us anything. We owe ourselves an opportunity to have a normal and happy life. And, it is possible.