Heroes for our Foster Youth!

For the past few months I have been considering a blog entry to honor those whom I feel should be considered “Heroes for our Foster Youth.”

I have decided to make this an actual reality. I know, despite the numerous problems within today’s foster care system, there are many individuals, families and organizations doing something to make life better for the youth in care. Without their actions life within the system would be worse than it could be.

I will be searching the Internet, newspapers and receiving input from others to choose those whom I determine should be honored. I plan on making this a monthly entry on my blog.

There are so many negative stories that can be found with what is wrong with our system. I know this as I have contributed to it. However the positive side of the system is rarely brought forward in the headlines. This will be my small effort to highlight the positive even while I continue to highlight the negative as well.

A week or so ago I received the comments below:

“Any government – Any system – has always, and will always come up short in the level of financial and other support it provides in caring for these children.

Yet there are those who continue to open their hearts and lives to the children in foster care.

We ride the ups and downs of a system that both heals and breaks the heart…a roller coaster of expectation and grief.

We struggle to heal the trauma of abandonment and separation, of physical and emotional abuse, neglect, of sexual molestation and depravation.

We strive to help our children overcome the difficulty of attachment disorder, the self-doubt and the misconceptions inflicted by an ignorant, self indulgent society.

WHY?

Because we understand that there really are monsters under the bed!

So keep up the fight! – Continue to advocate and provide a voice for our children!

If you can’t get through the front door – go in the back or through a window!

An ignorant soul once asked me: ‘Why would you ever want to take these kinds of kids into your home’?

My (The comment sender) response was to write a song…

“Because”

Because the cry of precious children erupts like fire in my veins
Because these children deserve more than to be labeled with your stupid names
Because the pain and torment they endure burns inside my very soul
Because I feel the emptiness within and wish to make them whole
Because not one little lamb should be lost from the fold
Because I know what it’s like to need someone to hold
Because each child’s heartbreaking story needs to be told
Because we all need some comfort, this world is so cold
Because the burden is to heavy for little shoulders to bear
Because there are monsters of evil lurking out there
Because what is a dream unless your willing to share
Because children need to believe that someone still cares
Because my heart has been broken, now I can feel
Because I have been wounded, I know how to heal
Because I have been taken, I never will steal
Because I have been lied to, I know what is real
Because I understand the need for a home
Because no child should be left alone
Because my eyes have seen their eyes cry
Because of this – I will not sit idly by”

Words and Music for Because by Tony DeLorenzo and Richard Ferreira Copyright 2003 The Sword & Spirit Band

Permission to reprint the words to this song has been granted by Tony for this blog entry and may not be reproduced anywhere else without him giving permission.
 
I thought this was very nice and moving but they might just be words as I have seen before. However Tony also sent me a link to his web site (I will provide a link later).

The words expressed above were not just words. They are a real part of Tony’s, his wife; Richard’s, his wife and the Sword & the Spirit Band. They are a true expression of their love, passion and committment to today’s foster youth. They have put action behind their words, they have dedicated their lives is so many ways to better the lives of youth in foster care.  Tony and I have also exchanged communications over the past week.  Tony’s words above better say my sentiment than I ever could. They have proven themselves to be “Heroes of Foster Youth” and I therefore choose them as Heroes for the month of October 2007.

Tony’s Family

“Tony, Carrie along with their 6 children on Adoption Day”

It all started approximately 10 years ago when Tony and Richard Ferreira made a decision to personally enter the world of these very special children and together with their wives they became ‘foster parents’.

“Our hearts melted, our lives and the lives of our children were eternally touched. We will never be the same!” – (Tony)

Tony and his wife Carries recently adopted three beautiful children and are in the process of adopting their fourth.

Richard and his wife Beth have spent the past many years caring for Vermont’s most neediest children.

Collectively these two couples have cared for nearly 100 foster youth in their homes.

Motivated by their experiences as foster parents and the stories from the youth placed in their care, Tony and Richard began to writing songs for/about these precious children and their families that care for them.

Tony stated further in his comments to me; “Creating a greater awareness to the needs of foster and adoptive children and their families by educating and motivating the local community through music, art, drama and literary productions

Developing and promoting projects through music and the arts that reach out and effect positive change in the lives of these children and those who care for them.

The Sword & Spirit Band was created to be a ‘voice for the children in the foster care system and we are working hard at increasing our exposure.

Our song & story transcend beyond mere entertainment and the stereotypical band seeking promotion of their music. But rather, this story is the silent cry and the unpainted picture, as seen through the eyes of the children we care for; and a dream to make a real difference in the lives of some very special children.”

The Sword & The Spirit is a labor of Love for Tony DeLorenzo, Eric Lea and Richard Ferreira.

Tony, Eric and Richard – lifelong friends – started the band as a way to reach out to children in the foster care system.

The Sword and The Spirit is a band committed to writing and performing original music that presents an unadulterated, true and realistic voice; revealing the inner heart of foster and adoptive children in our communities.

Sword & Spirit Band

The Band

Their songs acknowledge and identify with the children’s fragile emotions and their pain; they represent the silent cry and the unpainted picture as seen through the eyes of the children in care.

They take great care in presenting this voice to the public that they may convey a message of hope and healing to them. Their music offers a positive alternative to the angry and negative messages so prevalent in today’s mainstream entertainment industry.

Due to the vulnerable state of these children they feel they are particularly susceptible to these negative messages and a source of positive energy is needed.

Their mission is to create a greater awareness within the community to the needs of these children and their families; to develop and promote projects through music and the arts that reach out and effect positive change in the lives of these children and those who care for them.

These are often the forgotten children in society. Some have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned by their biological families; and desperately need a safe, loving and permanent home.

Others just need a place to call home until their situation is safe enough for them to return home.

However, many of these children enter a system that makes them strangers in the places where they live, moving multiple times in short periods, never being able to create a permanent connection with their caregivers. Eventually they are “aged out” or emancipated from “the system”; destined to repeat the cycle over again.

The Sword & Spirit’s music relates to the children’s pain and sense of abandonment; it gives air to their feelings. The band’s goal is to be a voice for these children and to encourage society not to forget them. No child is a mistake – They are all gifts from God!

The Sword & The Spirit Band was formed 1998 and has been going strong since then. They have performed in VT, NY, NJ, CT and RI raising awareness and funds for the needs of foster youth. They have even gone to Canada to perform and raised thousands for Special Olympics as well. They have made three CD’s of their work and are working on a fourth.

They are also currently developing a non profit organization called “Eye of The Dreamer Productions” which hopes to procure property that will house a Music and Arts Center for underprivileged youth. The center will offer after-school and evening Music Mentoring Programs, Short Story, Poetry & Illustration Courses, Painting/Drawing Courses, Computer Animated Design Courses, Youth Art Exhibitions, Music Concerts, Drama Performances and much much more.

The Good Lord Willing, they hope the center will eventually also provide a place where precious children who have been placed in ‘The Foster Care System’ from all over the country, can come to Vermont for 1, 2 or 3  week Music & Arts Camp Programs (and perhaps, even a horse ranch)!

These programs have a two fold purpose:

One, they are intended to open the eyes of imagination and the voice of expression in the children, through the healing power of music and the arts.

As Paul McCartney once said “Music can heal, it can do more than ease the pain, It can throw a lifeline to kids who can’t be reached in any other way”

Two, the programs are designed to give foster and adoptive parents much needed and deserved respite so they can continue to ‘stay the course’ and know that their children are receiving ultimate care and enrichment!

As you can see they are not occasional laborers in the field of foster youth; rather it is their lifetime commitment of love!

It is my honor and pleasure to choose Tony, Carrie, Richard, Beth as well as The Sword & The Spirit Band as “Heroes for Foster Youth” for the month of October. They have definitely by their actions earned it!

One of their songs “Dream Lost in the Wind” reads:

Reach out your hand! …….Please!
Not another sad song you say

We want to sing and dance and play

But… too many children’s tears have been shed
Maybe it’s time the adults cry instead

Maybe these words
will bring tears to your eyes

Maybe your ears
will hear their cries

Maybe your heart
will melt inside

Maybe then you will realize

I am a dream lost in the wind

I am a tear cried in the rain
I am a heart filled with emptiness
I am a child without a name

I am a child nobody wanted
I am a child everyone fears
I just need someone to hold me
I cry but nobody hears
Nobody hears

Don’t ask me to share my secrets
At least not today
They are all I have
That someone can’t take away

Hold me close
Somebody please
Rock me gently in your arms
Give me reason to believe

Love comes slowly
Trust is not built in a day
It takes years to give back
The dreams that were stolen away

Copyright 2007 The Sword & The Spirit
Words & music written by Tony, Richard & Nathan Goodwin

 A Band Performance

“The Band Performing”

May your heart be moved as mine was as you read the story of these wonderful people.

Their mission may currently be limited to the Northeast but I hope and pray by this small effort by me that word about them will flow forth across the country and their dreams might soon become a reality.

They say, “All children are a gift from God.” I say, “They are God’s gift to Foster Youth.”

I hope to possibly meet them all in person in April 2008 if chosen as a speaker for the VT Foster & Adoptive Family Association Annual Conference.

Please take the time to visit their web site. It includes further details of their story, mission, past and future events, their music (which can be listened to) and some great photographs…it is an awesome adventure! You may also order their CDs to help fund their continuing mission.

Sword & Sprit web site:

http://www.swordspirit.net

One Response

  1. Thank You.

    Tony is really the heart and soul of The Sword and The Spirit. As you point out, it is not just words or music for him. He and Carrie have put those words into action in adopting – not one – but 4 children.

    God Bless you in your work to further the lives of foster children.

    PS – check out http://www.guitarsnotguns.org

    All the best.

    Eric Lea

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