By Carly Weinstein
Family & Children’s Association’s (FCA) Lakeview House recently teamed up with Long Island Youth Mentoring to make one resident’s dream come true. Lakeview House, located in West Hempstead, serves as a community residence for co-ed youth ages 13-18 suffering from significant emotional impairments and mental illness. Francy M. always had a dream of being a professional football player. The partnership between Lakeview House and Long Island Youth Mentoring provided Francy with the opportunity to not only build a rewarding and supportive relationship with a mentor, but to connect with a mentor who is a professional football player.
Brilynn Fields, 30, is on the Team USA Women’s Tackle Football team. Fields has been a wide receiver and offensive tight end for the New York Sharks of the Women’s Football Alliance since 2013. Fields is the head of talent and acquisition for a management firm by day and a star wide receiver and tight end off the clock.
Fields visits Francy at least once or twice a week. The two spend quality time together, whether it is going to the movies or just shooting hoops outside the Lakeview House. For Halloween, Fields allowed Francy to borrow her football gear so she could feel like “the football player she’s always dreamed to be.”
“She reminds me a lot of myself as a kid. So much energy and imagination, but often misunderstood. One of my greatest strengths is in the sports realm track, basketball and softball, then most recently and most loved: Football! So imagine my surprise when I was told that the little girl that I’d have the honor and pleasure of working with wants to be a future football player. I didn’t even know at 14 years old that football was a possibility, but at 30 years old for the last five years it has been a place of peace for me, and I’m grateful to be able to pass that along to her. For Halloween she wanted to be a football player, and I felt so much pride in being able to give her my helmet and pads to live out being a football player. When we hang out I’m able to show her routes as a wide receiver, and even show her how to hold her hands to receive the ball as a running back or as she would call it “the one who gets the hand off and plows through everyone” Football teaches life skill sets, how to be a team player, how to be selfless, strength, and commitment to something bigger than yourself. I can’t wait to help instill those qualities in her during the times we get to hang out, and I’m so excited for her to be able to witness her first New York Sharks Women’s Professional Football Game, I pray it changes her life in the most positive way the same way that it did mine,” Fields tells FCA Social Worker Carly Weinstein.
“I’d like to continue to develop in all areas of my life. I’d like to publicly speak one day to younger kids, especially those in the LGBT community, or any group of people who might feel alone or in dark places to know that they are loved, and hopefully help them to understand just how loved they actually are. I’d like to be a part of the solution for others to know that they have an outlet in which they don’t’ have to feel alone. I’d like to help those people in the darkness, find even just a sliver of light that might help them on their journey. It is my wishes, hopes, and dreams, to continue becoming the change I wish to see in the world,” Fields explains.
For over 25 years, Long Island Youth Mentoring has matched at-risk children between ages 8 and 16, with screened, trained Christian adults who sense the need to help a child-in-need. They spend 2-4 hours a week together doing things they both enjoy. Long Island Youth Mentoring has a tutoring program for children in grades 2-5 called Partners to Potential, Jail Visitation in Nassau County and the GAP (Girls in Alternative Placement) program mentoring girls who are living in a group home or residential treatment facility.
Family & Children’s Association’s (FCA) Lakeview House is a community residence for adolescents who suffer from significant, emotional impairments and are in need of a structured setting in the community that enables them to become involved in the responsibilities of daily living. Residence in this program allows for staff of both the referring agency and the community residence to plan for the youth’s future. The program is certified through the New York State Office of Mental Health.
—Submitted by Family & Children’s Association