I don’t know about you, but I was an awkward 13-year old. Like many young teenagers, I was dealing with a changing body, growing out my bangs, trying to fit into a new high school and finding my unique place in the world. Mom made enough money to move us from the housing projects on the Lower East Side to a house in Queens. That opened up a world of possibilities for my future, but I was the shy and quiet kid, afraid that I was too stupid, naive, or too Chinese to ever make it. I didn’t feel like I belonged. My appearance, hand-made clothes and demeanor clearly showed that I wasn’t one of the “cool” kids. I always thought that these floundering experiences would help me be a better Mom some day when I raise my own kids.
Here I am now, watching BAYCAT turn 13-years old.
Is BAYCAT the child I never had?
As the Founder, and with my innate instinct to nurture, it certainly feels like it. I’ve watched BAYCAT stumble and flourish from a mere crazy idea in my head, to crawling through multiple start up phases, to becoming a full-fledged organization making an undeniable impact on the world. I’ve witnessed BAYCAT emerge from a confusing but curious childhood, to a brave adolescence, ready to face the troubles of the world.
Sometimes it’s been two steps forward and one step back, sometimes it’s given me gray hairs, but BAYCAT has weathered the storms.
I’m proud of what BAYCAT has become, that it still exists, and for everything it has accomplished as a teenager:
educating 4000+ young people
employing 200+ diverse creatives
creating 1000’s of stories
building capacity for 150+ nonprofits.
Not bad for a 13-year, huh?
As with every Mom, I worry daily about the long-term viability of my child in an often precarious world. Natural disasters, a divisive political climate, and daily news that centers around the very real racial and economic pain of our society makes me wonder what can I do to protect and prepare BAYCAT, to not just survive but thrive. Parents worry ourselves silly over things that are out of our control, but in the end all we can do is our best to provide enough nutrients and resources to have faith that our kids will be ok. No, better than just ok.
My expectations, like most parents, are high and may even seem lofty. I expect BAYCAT to keep growing, to build a strong corpus and to fulfill its purpose to make the world an even better place. A safer place, a more inclusive place, a more diverse, creative, loving and joyful place. To help quiet these negative fearful feelings for those who don’t feel they belong, and to pave pathways to success. To end racism, person by person, story by story. I struggle to make sure that there is enough sustenance, treasure and talent to help BAYCAT reach its full potential. I will continue to be there for BAYCAT, to have faith and to swallow my own fears of whether BAYCAT belongs.
Because we do, we all do.
And most of all, I’m grateful for the village of people who have adopted, co-parented, fed, provided for and helped to raise BAYCAT together with me. Thank YOU! I share this birthday with you and I look forward to continuing this adventure together into BAYCAT’s adulthood!
Happy 13th Birthday, BAYCAT!
May you continue to enlarge your family, develop more jobs for diverse creative talent, create more stories about critical social justice issues, and change the 21st century workforce to bring greater racial and social equity to our society!