Silver Lining Mentoring kicked off a Book Club Series in May 2017 at the annual Match Gala, with the centerpieces at the event encouraging guests to join SLM in hosting a book club based on “A Chance in The World”- Steve Pemberton’s memoir of his experience in the foster care system in MA. Once of the main influences in the creation of SLM’s Book Club Series is its natural connection and promotion of two of SLM’s organizational values, specifically “Innovation” – we encourage creativity and collaboration in pursuit of leadership, learning and continuous improvement, and “Cultural Responsiveness” – we believe that diversity strengthens communities, and we are committed to listening and responding to all voices to promote respect, compassion and social change.
Since May 2017, SLM has facilitated discussions about “A Chance in the World” with a wide range of partner organizations, including Social Innovation Forum, Boston City Hall, and DiCicco, Gulman & Company. Each book club is structured through a planned program that provides space to raise important questions about the experiences of youth in foster care and to explore some solutions to support these young people. Despite coming from a variety of backgrounds and professions, many of the participants have shared similar insights and ideas about how the book reaffirmed as well as challenged the perceptions they held about the foster care system.
One significant discussion topic that arose is the possible protective factors and qualities of resiliency that allowed Steve to remain strong-willed and motivated throughout his experiences of trauma and self-discovery. There have also been examinations of disproportional racial representation in the foster care system and how this may have impacted Steve’s or other young people’s experience in foster care. Finally, an important theme in conversations has been the understanding of how Steve defined “home” and “family” and how those definitions changed over the course of his life, particularly in relation to the impact of long-term, caring mentors in his trajectory.
Overall, while the SLM Book Club Series has introduced a wonderful opportunity to shift perspectives and knowledge about the complexity of the foster care system, it has also provided a chance for stakeholders to become inspired and further engage with SLM in different capacities, furthering the conversations of how partner organizations can work together with SLM to better support youth in foster care. We invite anyone interested in continuing this important dialogue to please contact Cori Mykoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 209-5307 for more information: You provide the club; we’ll provide the discussion and education!