Patterson: Volunteer Supporter

Patterson Emesibe, Volunteer Supporter, Monterey County Chapter, Former CYC Member and Peer Mentor

We’re all foster youth so we don’t need to ask, “Why are you here?” But sometimes we want to know how we all got to this table. CYC creates space for organizing for policy change but also for community building, and with both of those, young people are hooked. And then they go to the conference, and their mind is blown. You’re meeting young people from all over the state, building community in the workshops and at lunch and in the hallways and the back of the meeting rooms—you’re always creating community. Later when you’re talking with legislators and funders and other stakeholders, and you’re telling them what you know from your own experience, you’re coming from that place of community and now you’re part of the story that’s creating change.

For 30 years, CYC has been allowing young people to be part of a story of hope. That’s what keeps us there. Our participation in CYC gives us the hope we didn’t have growing up. It’s hope for yourself and hope for the next generation. CYC allows young people to be immortal. We get to see that immortal stamp: I did that. We always know we’ve made that change in the world. I think that’s why young people stay in CYC.

Youth voice impacts policies on a macro-level, and on a micro-level, that experience of changing policy impacts youth. CYC helped me discover my voice, chisel the skills that I have, and then teach those skills to other young people and mentor them as they honed them also. So it was really conducive to my becoming the professional I am today.

CYC is the reason I am where I am today. Without CYC, my whole life would be different.