Our April mindshine guests dove right into the topic of Fostering - and, by golly, was it ever intense. Each guest chimed in with an interpretation that will leave you wishing you were at the table. Read on to hear what these amazing local fascinators had to say.
Tony DeStefanis, Board Member of Canine Cupids | IT Supervisor
Outside of quality time spent in Europe, Tony has been a Milwaukee Eastsider his entire life. "We have good people here. When you spend time elsewhere, it reinforces that there is something cool about Milwaukee."
Tony, who adopted his first dog 10-years ago, shows his local love by helping to oversee Canine Cupids, an animal rescue committed to "improving the lives of the homeless, neglected, and exceptional needs dogs in the greater Milwaukee area and to place them in permanent, loving homes."
"You're Canine Cupids?" Greg questioned. "I felt so good about your program when my wife and I were looking to adopt a dog! We love you guys."
"Thanks. We really try to focus on helping Milwaukee rescue animals and we work hard to have resources. Canine Cupids is now up to 120 volunteers and 40 - 50 foster homes. Sometimes, it's more of a full time job than my full time job as an IT Supervisor."
Greg Bernhardt, Founder/President at Physics Forums
"I really think about fostering everyday. It's integral to my job. So, when I heard of the topic, I was thinking about how I foster talent. I foster community."
Greg started his business, PhysicsForums.com, as a physics extra credit project in high school. Today, it's the number one online community for science and discussion with a membership following of students, professional scientists, and science hobbyists.
"When you want to grow a tomato plant, you don't tell the tomato plant 'I want you to be six feet tall and give me 12 tomatoes!' No. You create the environment by giving it all of its needs. Soil. Water. Protecting it from pests. And, you let the seed do it's own thing. Which is similar to our approach. We create the framework. Once people become members, we want them to grow up to contribute, to be welcoming to other members - to have ownership in the community. That's what we foster online. It's not always easy, but it is rewarding."
"I'm so fascinated that you started this platform before Facebook," added Kelly. "How incredible."
Kelly Andrew, Chief Ideas Officer at Filament
"I started to think about the imperminance of fostering, and how it relates to to my spiritual journey. How my soul is permanent until it becomes fully realized. My body, which fosters my soul, is impermanent."
"Hold up. I need to wrap my mind around this," interrupted Katy.
"So, spiritually, I lean towards reincarnation. I believe that my soul is on a journey over multiple lifetimes. I believe I've learned things before coming here to this life. One of the lessons I struggle with in this life is body image. If I learn to value this body, it will be better equipped to foster my soul, which will allow me a longer life here, and I will be able to learn more of my lessons. I'll be ready for the next life. My end game: Actualization. I hope - in some life - I reach that point."
"Wow. We are going all over the map with this topic! I love it!" Tiffany said.
Jackie Steinmetz, Owner of Accelity Marketing
In her 4th year as the owner of Accelity Marketing, Jackie is very involved in fostering the business start-up community in Milwaukee. She's also a foster-parent through the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin with her husband Derek.
"What inspired you to become foster parents?" asked Kelly.
"We've known a lot of people who were adopted, my mother-in-law fostered infants, so, in a sense we were always inspired to become foster parents - and they are needed so badly. It was an easy conversation. Since we've fostered, we've had so many people ask us to walk them through the process and we've gotten to hear so many cool stories."
Guests were amazed to learn that becoming a foster parent isn't just about providing love and support for the child. It is also important to build a bond with the child's biological family. "In many cases, we spend holidays and go to doctor's appointments with the child's actual parents. And, it's worked out. There is so much that goes into foster care - it's a very people-driven system."
Tiffany Herrera, Senior Investigator | Humane Society Volunteer
"I am pulled in 50 different directions with this topic," started Tiffany. Known for fostering animals and providing a home for friends or family when in need of a place to stay, Tiffany surprised herself when she chose to talk about her brother.
"It wasn't until I was older that I looked back and wondered, 'why doesn't my brother live with me and my mom? Or with my dad? He lives with a completely different family. An hour away. I eventually figured out that he lived in a foster home. How did that make him feel? Why didn't he live with us? Why did I have to go to another family's home to watch him graduate high school?'"
Tiffany's brother, who has since passed, made a profound mark on her life. "So many people loved him. To me, he was my sun, my moon, and my stars."
"Knowing all that you do for animals, for people, for the community, maybe your tradgedy has transformed into a gift to others," Greg said. "That's true," Tiffany smiled. "And that's how I view my brother - he has given me the greatest gift."
Katy Corey, Director of Collaboration at Filament
"This might be a stretch, but I think it's important to foster - to help develop - dream memory. I encourage people to pay attention to their dreams because I think you're trying to tell yourself something. It's not so much about whimsical interpretations or premonitions. It's about self-awareness. I've been so involved in my dreams for the past 10-years that I can actually direct them, from time to time."
"You must wake up really tired," laughed Tiffany.
"I actually sleep really well. And, I think good sleep is key to remembering dreams. They can reveal so many things. For example, when I dream about driving, the road often ends. Or the breaks don't work. Or I can't see out of the windshield. I can generally attribute the dream to something influencing anxiety or loss of control. By fostering my dream memory, I can process real life a little better."
In closing, it was an honor to host this group of motivated, passionate Milwaukeeans. You make this city proud. We look forward to connecting with another group of local fascinators over drinks, delicious Tall Guy eats, and discussion on That One Place this evening.