Vol. 13, No. 2 • May 2009

SaySo: 11 Years and Counting!

by Nancy Carter, SaySo Executive Director

On March 7, 2009 one hundred and thirty people gathered to attend SaySo Saturday at Alamance Community College. This annual membership conference included an array of concurrent workshops and SaySo celebrated its eleventh birthday. That’s a double digit number! Soon SaySo will be the age of the young people who make up its membership of over 500.

Coordinated by Rhiannon Galen, SaySo’s Program Coordinator, the conference included youth and adult presenters on such topics as gangs, expressing yourself through art, mental health, self-empowerment, and starting a local chapter.

After lunch and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” three new local chapters (Union, Robeson, and Alamance counties) were acknowledged and existing chapters received their birthday cards. All chapters can be found on our website at http://www.saysoinc.org.

Then Joan McAllister, the NC LINKS coordinator and longtime SaySo adult advisor, provided a farewell speech, as she will retire June 30, 2009.

In her remarks, Joan affirmed that both the LINKS program and SaySo are in good shape. She wished all the young people well and thanked everyone for their participation. Following Joan’s speech and another session of workshops, each region met to elect their regional representatives. This year’s board members are:

Region 1: Savannah H., Samantha H., and Amber S.
Region 2: Reneka RC. and Brittany W.
Region 3: Keyona R., Chad F., and James S.
Region 4: Nikki L., Marcella M., and Erica F.
Region 5: Shanita G., Titiannia G., and Casey H.
Returning Officers: Cherish (Co-Chair) and Jackie (Secretary)

The 2009-10 SaySo Youth Board of Directors will participate in a team-building leadership orientation retreat and commissioning ceremony in June.

From an adult’s point of view, SaySo has come a long way in a short time. But to a young person, 11 years is a lifetime. At SaySo Saturday, we are cultivating an alumni group—a place where young people can still find support and information.

Wherever they are, alumni know the first Saturday of every March is SaySo Saturday. An workshop track for alumni is provided at the conference so alumni can discuss aging out issues and receive support and new information. This year, Chaney, age 23, facilitated those workshops. She’s found that eight years with SaySo have prepared her to accept her past and create her future. Next year, Chaney plans to be a SaySo Regional Assistant (SRA) for Region Six to help young people get involved.

As foster parents and concerned adults in the lives of foster youths, please encourage your young people to learn about SaySo, participate in local activities, join the organization (it’s free), register to be an online participant (takes 15 seconds), and visit the website often (www.saysoinc.org).

Additional Activities

  • SaySo Page Week (March 23-27, Raleigh). Every year SaySo members spend one week working side-by-side with legislators and state administrators. This program has greatly helped our state officials to see foster youths as people rather than numbers.
  • SaySo Survivor 4 (May 15-17, Camp Chestnut Ridge). An annual leadership retreat for 40 youths building on their resiliencies and enhancing their call to share their resilience with other youths.
  • LINK Up Youth Conference (July 2009, Hendersonville). One of two life skills conferences held annually in different locations around the state. Visit our website for exact dates and to register.

Copyright 2009 Jordan Institute for Families