Platform of Fatimah N. Lane, Pennsylvania
CASST, Inc. (Creating Alternative Support Services Together)
“’Inspiring Youth for a Promising Future”
Volunteerism has always been a big part of my life. From as far back as I can remember my mother and other family members were always out there supporting youth, the elderly, and other members of our community any way they could. They would even drag my cousins and me with them at very early ages protesting and pouting all the way, but we went and when we got there we helped out as much as we could. It was something expected of us and we always did what we were told. Though I didn’t understand early on the lesson and values being instilled in me at the time, I’ve come to realize that they were truly beneficial to me and the woman I am today. It taught me humility and appreciation for the blessing my mother and family were to me in my upbringing and life. I truly thank God for them. The selfless efforts of my mother, aunts, and other family members have truly inspired and encouraged me. I’ve known for a long time that I’d be infected with the same need to help others and I accept this legacy with honor.
Youth advocacy and community betterment are very dear to me. I’ve always wanted to give back in someway and to start some type of outreach program that could be a source of support and reprieve for youth from the traumas of their lives. This need, this hunger, is what prompted me to institute this organization, CASST, Inc. We are a program mentoring youth experiencing incarceration in the juvenile justice system. CASST, Inc. is committed to bestowing confidence in youth for a promising future. Our efforts are dedicated to reducing the instances of recidivism among youth who are currently in the Juvenile Justice System. We strive to develop the full potential in each participant through encouragement, support, and resources that will ensure their productive re-entry into society.
CASST, Inc. is currently operating in the Philadelphia, PA area. We hope to expand our organization and services to as many communities, cities, and states as possible. If there is a need, we want to be there.
I’ve made a lifelong commitment to helping at-risk youth who are experiencing incarceration, who have experienced incarceration, and who are in danger of experiencing incarceration. Often times, youth of these groups are living in some of the worst home and community environments that you can only imagine. Most are victims of rape, incest, physical, emotional, and drug related abuse, and neglect. Others are just not receiving the love, support, and attention they are so desperately in need of at home. With all of that going on in their lives they look for outlets and ways to deal with their pain and unfortunately their choices are not always good and tend to lead them down roads of negativity. They indulge in activities ranging from gangs and violent groups, substance abuse, crime, prostitution, promiscuity; anything that keeps them from dealing with the pain of their own reality. While we may think the horrors of their lives are no excuse for indulging in unacceptable behavior; we must remember that we are not walking in their shoes. Some of us were blessed, including myself, to have loving families and homes.
When I hear the history behind these young people my heart hurts for them. I have often times found myself holding back tears. Some have expressed the security and normalcy they find in being incarcerated over being at home or even in their communities! Others have been through so much that they say they can’t cry anymore and they’ve become numb and have resigned to the fact that is their life and the path they were cursed to take. That’s unacceptable. When youth find incarceration to be a safe haven from the world we have a problem.
I admire their courage and honesty through all of their adversity. It takes a lot to tell a total stranger and even someone you know you’re most intimate thoughts and feelings especially when they are most disturbing. They tell me they want to change and just don’t know how. Rarely do I hear one deny the wrong in their actions. Most accept responsibility and sincerely want to make every effort to change but just don’t know where to start. This is a cry for help. This is where the community support is so desperately needed. We cannot solely hold them accountable for their actions. At some point we as a community of concerned parents, educators, leaders, and members must step up and do what we need to help them. Too often this group is overlooked and labeled as damaged goods. I want to change that. I want to bring awareness to the overwhelming amount of love and potential this group has. It’s up to us as a community to reach out and offer that support they need by any means necessary and to make them productive and functional citizens that will hopefully become committed to the same.
By God’s grace, I’ve never had to walk in the shoes of my group participants. I was blessed with a wonderful role model, protector, disciplinarian, and motivator when God gave me Christal Williams for my mother. I believe every child and parent are a gift from God and from birth my mother made every effort to raise me in a way pleasing in His sight. I’ve never been pregnant, on drugs, or incarcerated. She helped me to disprove society’s stereotypes of African American youth females. My mother was a single parent and she worked hard to give me the best of everything including my education and life. I never wanted for a thing and no matter how hard things may have been for her, she never showed it to me. I honor and love her so much for that because there’s no way in a million lifetimes could I repay her for that. Her faith in God, strength, love, and determination are the legacy that she’s given to me and my sister, Courtney. She is my hero and truest inspiration, next to God, for me pursuing youth advocacy. I want an opportunity to give thanks for the life she provided me by helping youth who were not as fortunate as I. With the title of Miss Plus America, I want to continue the legacy my mother and her sisters have set for me as a woman of color. I want to take what they’ve given me and build on it to make a legacy of my own to pass on to my sister and future kings and queens of my community and across America. I would carry the title with excellence and pride! I want to be an example and role model to young ladies who are persons of color and who are plus sized. I want the opportunity to be a representation of confidence, poise, humility, and pride. Thank you for your time and have a blessed day! For more information about Miss Pennsylvania Plus America 2006 please call 267-242-2525 or contact us online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the pageant site at www.missplusamerica.com