In this episode, Crystal Williams discusses the heartbreak she experienced when she lost her baby brother and when she entered foster care. At the age of six, Crystal chose to express her feelings about losing her baby brother in a poem. She shares her poem in today’s episode and explains how poetry has continued to serve as an outlet for her. You’ll then hear her desire for today’s youth to discover their own gifts and use them for good. Crystal also shares how adults positively transformed her experience in foster care and encouraged her to use her gifts to follow her dreams. As she chooses to come alongside today’s youth, Crystal is able to offer insight into effective ways to empower youth in foster care.
We are then joined by Tom Lukasik. Tom brings his experience as a foster dad into his role as Vice President of Community Engagement at 4Kids of South Florida. Through the years, he and his wife, Linda, have fostered over 50 children and interacted with countless other children in and out of foster care. In this episode, he shares useful tips for empowering kids in foster care every day and into the future.
Download the free companion PDF to this series—“Seven Insights about Foster Care from Those Who’ve Been There”–and share these types of insights with others in your community!
“It’s fascinating to me that Miss Mitchell believed in something that I didn’t even see in myself. I didn’t even see or believe or know to believe that I could accomplish that type of goal. To have someone see gifts in you, to see talent in you and then be willing to invest in that is very powerful for any young person, regardless if they were in foster care or not. It’s just powerful to have.”
Crystal Williams, Former Foster Youth
Here are the resources and/or organizations mentioned in this episode:
Crystal’s Blog: beingclearascrystal.wordpress.com
Crystal’s Website: www.CrystalLWilliams.com
Georgia EmpowerMEnt (Crystal): http://georgiaempowerment.org
4KIDS of South Florida (Tom Lukasik) https://www.4kids.us
Meet Our Guests
Crystal entered foster care in Georgia at a young age. After a group home and multiple foster placements, Crystal aged out of the foster care system. Crystal graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing/Theater Studies and received her MBA from Georgia State University with a focus in organizational management. Crystal has served as a member of Georgia Governor’s Council for child welfare reform, she is certified in Life Stories® Theater curriculum, she is a founding member of an advocacy group for foster youth called Georgia EmpowerMEnt, is a young fellow for the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and was a Fellow with the American India Foundation. Crystal travels the nation speaking as an advocate for foster children children and uses her gift of spoken word poetry to challenge and motivate audiences.
Tom currently serves as the Vice President of Community Engagement for 4Kids in South Florida and works to create advocates in churches and organizations in his area. Tom and his wife, Linda, have fostered over 50 children since 1994. In his advocacy work, Tom travels around the country to teach and to encourage churches to care for children in foster care. Tom has even spoken at the White House!
Meet Our Hosts
Jason and his wife, Trisha, have been caring for children from U.S. foster care since 2001 and have had the privilege of adopting their five children from foster care. Jason has helped to produce and write several books, bible studies, and other tools all created to serve churches as they care for hurting kids including the newly released children’s book, Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn (BroadStreet Publishing). Jason writes a regular column for Fostering Families Today magazine and is the host of the Foster Movement Podcast, which highlights the stories of former foster youth and national foster care advocates. Jason serves as the National Director of More Than Enough for the Christian Alliance for Orphans and currently lives in Plano, Texas.
Most teenagers remember the day they got their license, or their sweet 16, or even prom night. For Diego the most prominent day he remembers is In 2002, when he showed up on Bishop Aaron Blake’s steps. Blake stopped Diego at the door and told him to lose any foster care mentality that he has. “You are not a foster child; you are ‘Engrafted’ into my family.” Diego, now a national recording artist, released his second studio album titled “ENGRAFTED” in 2014! Diego is the founder & president of B.I.G Records & Foundation. He and his “Pops,” Bishop Aaron Blake have joined forces and travel the country empowering the local church to create a culture of families prepared to accept the calling of orphan care. Diego lives with his family in the Dallas area.