Foster Care: Judson Center Conference
Every talk I give is for a different client with a different theme. Whether it’s mental health, motivation, suicide prevention, inspiration, drugs and alcohol or another topic - I am honored and excited I get to be a part of the lives of the attendees.
I arrived at the high school on February 23 and was immediately greeted by Sarah, who told me that she heard me talk at her high school fifteen years before. She remembered me because it was the first time that she heard someone talk about suicide and mental health. It was so nice to connect with her and hear her story. I am proud of where she is now and what she is doing.
Right away, I was excited to be their speaker and to be with these families and teens. “Let’s do this,” I thought to myself.
When you travel as much as I do, sometimes it can be a blur: fly in, rent a car, check in to a hotel, do the event and it’s on to the next one. It’s what I do, and that’s what this career is all about – but sometimes a random moment sticks with you. The fact that Sarah heard me speak all those years ago hit my heart. I was touched that she remembered me and that we were connecting once again.
The Judson Center in Adrian, MI started last year, and in that short time they have covered eleven counties and trained over 1600 families. That’s amazing! They’re doing great work.
I got to spend time talking about the system, the kids, the benefits for these kids and the families and how much work the state of Michigan is doing. I was very proud to hear their hard work and the passion for these kids and families.
Michigan is a great state and I’ve always appreciated my visits there, as well as the different organizations that have brought me in to speak. With all the negative publicity in the news surrounding Michigan State University and gymnastics, I would like to say they’ve sponsored many of my events and have invited me to speak at various other youth and family programs in Michigan. The university is giving back to their state in a positive way. I believe they need to be recognized for the good they do.
Many years ago, my wife and I looked into being foster parents when we knew that we were unable to have children ourselves. She was a high school teacher and I knew she would have been an amazing mother, and after having kids when I was really young, I wanted to have kids again. We went through the classes and did our research for nearly a year before deciding that we couldn’t commit the time necessary to become foster parents.
I travel more than 150 days a year, and I worked hard to build this career. We decided that it wouldn’t be fair to a child and it wouldn’t be right that most of the responsibility would be left to her, especially when she taught full-time. We figured we both serve kids and work in education and we were okay with that. Our hearts have always been with foster care children and the families that bring them in and love them.
This conference was attended by about 125 people from all over southern Michigan. I was proud to be their speaker, and I am glad I got the chance to attend some of the workshops there, including sleep, sex-trafficking and more. The conference was put together really well, with great workshops and information booths providing support and encouragement for our foster families.
Thank you for having me. I am always here for you. Reach out to me on social media @JeffYalden.
Jeff Yalden is a mental health speaker and celebrity life coach who specializes in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Jeff is also the founder and Executive Director of The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc. The Foundation’s mission is to prevent suicide, improve community mental health, and shatter the stigma of mental health by initiating a positive movement to speak up and reach out.
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