Fostering Truth: Exposing Lies and Exploring Strength
Today we began installing Lost Childhoods at Warehouse 416 in Oakland. I’ve been part of Foster Youth Museum from the beginning – from the first moment the idea was born – so I found myself surprised that seeing items we started collecting in 2007 were choking me up like it was the first time I’d laid eyes on them. Truth is, this is the first time the general public will lay eyes on Foster Youth Museum (FYM), and for that reason alone, it is a little like I’m seeing the items for the first time, and feeling the impact anew.
What is so compelling about FYM are the stories behind the artifacts and art. Each of us who works on FYM has one item that impacts us the most. For me, it is the toilet paper sanitary pad.
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Two Months Before My 18th Birthday
Two Months Before My 18th Birthday is an interview with Angel-Lee Woolsey, who has two objects in “Lost Childhoods,” an exhibit of Foster Youth Museum.
You have an unusual object in the museum. Can you tell me about it? Yes, I donated a piece of Monopoly money with a phone number on it. When I was young, I lived in Mexico and my grandmother took care of me. Years later when things weren’t going well, I talked with her by phone from the US. I knew my life was changing forever and had this feeling that I wasn’t going to speak with her again. I grabbed a piece of Monopoly money from my floor and wrote down her number. You’ll see it even has the country code for Mexico.
Why did you keep this paper for so many years?
I kept it with me because it was a reminder of the life I had before. It was a connection to the family I had before foster care and to my life before it changed completely. Oddly enough, I even memorized the number and to this day know it by heart. Once I donated the piece of paper to the museum, I felt a sense of letting go.
What do you want people to understand when they see your object in the museum?
I want people to know that you don’t have much in foster care and something so small can mean so much. This paper and phone number stand for connection and what’s possible.
You also have a photo in the museum.
Yes, that’s a photo of my adoptive mom and me. It was taken on the day of my adoption – two months before my 18th birthday.
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Lost Childhoods Exhibit Previews at Fundraiser for Foster Care Counts
Assembled for a private donor event in Beverly Hills, CA, Lost Childhoods made a quiet, yet powerful, debut on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. In the words of Winnie Wechsler, executive director of the Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, “Lost Childhoods is a truly moving, gripping exhibit, and we were proud to be able to expose so many to a unique appreciation for what it’s like to be in foster care.”
An exhibit of Foster Youth Museum, Lost Childhoods is a groundbreaking look at youth experiences in foster care—and beyond. A compilation of photos, donated objects, videos,and foster youth art, the exhibit tells the story of loss and powerlessness – and the human capacity for resilience and connection.
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