Tag Archives: high school

The High School Service Project

23 Mar

My daughter Abigail is a senior in high school and had to do a mandatory service project that involved researching a societal issue. Abigail and her partner chose to do their project on foster care, and the shortage of foster parents.

One of the requirements of the project is to have a written piece published and to try to garner some feedback from the public on the subject. So, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a comment at the bottom with your thoughts on foster care. Thank you.

Foster Care

by Abigail Zableny

Imagine being 17 years old and moving into your 30th foster home. This is the life that real children here in Rochester have to face. There are thousands of children that are put into foster care because their parents are not equipped to take care of them. These children are often unsafe at home, abused, or neglected. If they are not properly loved and cared for as a decent family would treat them, then once they age out at around 18 years old they have to live independently without any basic skills or a family to fall back on when life throws obstacles their way. It is our job as a community to seek out these children that need our help and guide them towards bright futures that any child deserves.

As a senior at Our Lady of Mercy High School for Young Women I have found one of our own community members, gym teacher Stephanie Barbero, who took on the generous experience of opening up her home to a foster child.  Upon interviewing Stephanie, she explained the process and somewhat strenuous tasks that she and her family had to experience. A 17 year old girl approached Stephanie and asked to be a part of her family. This request was one Stephanie could not refuse. Before bringing the young woman into her home, she held a meeting with her family to inform them on what was going to happen. She described the situation as being “in it to win it” with her entire family. The Barbero family was able to accept another member into their lives and thankfully not worry about finances being strained. However, mental and emotional life was a different story. Some of Stephanie’s children were the same age as their foster child so they had to learn to share with one another which is sometimes difficult for 17 year old girls to do.

Despite the emotional toll of taking in a child with a rough background and opening up her entire life to her, Stephanie states that she would do it all over again if she was presented with the opportunity. In the future however, Stephanie would be apprehensive in how she handles another foster child. She reports that her family actually gave the foster child too much which was hard for her to deal with since she had moved around so much. She wasn’t used to having her own bedroom or other personal items and the Barberos provided her with everything she could ever need as if she was one of their own children. This ended up being too hard for her which leads Stephanie to the conclusion that next time she would ease a foster child into this new life of loving care so that they feel more comfortable with having their own personal items for possibly the very first time in their life.

Stephanie’s final thoughts on the issue of foster care touched on what are called the Core Values of Mercy, which are held by our school Our Lady of Mercy. These are basic attitudes and behaviors that when fulfilled, live out a spirited life of Mercy. Two key values that relate to foster care are hospitality and compassionate service. Regarding hospitality Stephanie states, “You need to just open up your entire world to this one person”. She agrees that you must have compassion to open up and attend to whatever their needs are and try to understand their past but accept them and treat them like a human being no matter what struggles they have gone through.

Stephanie Barbero proves the point that being a foster parent is not an easy task, however it is definitely a rewarding one. From the very moment that 17 year old girl walked into the Barbero home, many lives were changed forever. Stephanie now knows what it is like to give to a young child that needs guidance and love but hasn’t received it until almost adulthood. Any child in foster care deserves to be treated with these qualities especially since that has been a vital missing part of their lives. The Barberos are just a normal Rochester family that did an extraordinary thing for someone else that they didn’t even know. As a community, we must be more accepting towards these children that so desperately just want to be reunited with their parents or just be with a family that will love them unconditionally. If we see someone struggling and we have the resources to help and provide for them, why not help them?


As the Weird Guy Gropes…

30 Jul

I have about 5,000 things I want to write about at this time but some I don’t think are fit for human consumption.  I mean I just don’t know who’s reading anymore and I don’t want to piss anybody off or divulge their criminal acts.  heh

But this weekend I went to my high school reunion.  I went to two in fact.  You see I was born and raised in a city south of Buffalo, then when I was 16 my parents moved to a town basically between Rochester and Syracuse.  That fucked me up for life, but I’ll save that for another time.  I usually attend both and this year they were on the same weekend.  So I went to one place Friday and one place Saturday.  I think I had 5 hours sleep the entire weekend.

Me and Dolly

One of the more tame pictures of me partying this weekend (with my friend Denice)

Let’s face it high school pretty much sets up the model for the rest of your life.  In life as in high school there is a certain hierarchy to things, as well as cliques, groups, and types of personalities.  And don’t forget the politics.  I believe adult life involves far more politics in the workplace,  your kids schools and athletic teams than any other rinky dink problem in high school.  A douchebag boss who favors the co-worker with the big jugs and always gets the better client list is far more detrimental than the teacher who looked the other way while athletes cut class. (or smoked pot, or sexually harassed girls, or whatever… ok maybe the sexual harassment thing is a little more detrimental)

Wait, I’m kind of veering off the road of what I wanted to talk about.  Me go off on a tangent?  Never.  It’s like I was driving down I-95 and I suddenly end up at “Al’s Alligator Farm” on a dirt road with “Private land, no hunting” signs where they dump the bodies…

So anyway, the one thing you always have throughout life are different personalities.  There are just undeniable long standing stereotypes.  I love everybody and I am nice to everybody but I get frustrated at a point with one type…

The Weird Guy.


The quintessential weird guy – Gary Busey.

I encountered a couple this weekend.  I always try and be nice to this person because I’m compassionate and I feel bad.  Everyone has good in them.  You never know, they may have a mental disability or a really fucked up home life or maybe they are a crack baby, I don’t know.  There are those select few who do outgrow weird guy status, but there are those that can’t seem to shake it to save their lives.

I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means but there are just some people (mainly guys) that are just incredibly socially awkward and end up being creepy.   Then they usually give me the “Oh I don’t know why women are so crazy and can’t date a nice guy like me”…

Dude… it’s not the wominz, it’s you.  You’re FUCKING CREEPY!

I want to help.  I really do.  I try.  I try to say things nicely.  “Maybe update your clothing, throw out your dead Grandpa’s clothes and hit Old Navy or The Gap, for Christ’s sake Target would be better than what you have on!”  Ok, I didn’t really say the last part.  I’ve said, “Don’t be so direct and “leering””  “Don’t make stupid outdated hokey jokes.”  “Learn to read body language, if she doesn’t seem interested, GO AWAY!  Save your dignity man.”  “A hug does not mean she wants to marry you… or sleep with you… or perhaps ever even talk to you again.”  “For the love of God, no unwanted touching… don’t grope!”  (I was subjected to a groper this weekend)

I don’t know, reading the above makes me consider the guys may be autistic.  I don’t mean that in a mean or funny way, it is actually a part of being autistic, not being able to interact socially in some cases.

I sometimes think the only way to get through to someone is tough love.  Like if you’ve ever seen “Millionaire Matchmaker” with Patti Stanger, she yells at them and is really blunt.  Which I sometimes find offensive but I do think it’s the only way to get through to some people.  Because if you’re nice… they think you are interested and want to date them.   See, they can’t filter properly.  So she yells, “Stop being so fucking creepy”.  Expletives bleeped out of course.

There are times that the best thing that happened to me was someone getting in my face and telling me to stop being so whiny, or bitchy, or filled with self-doubt, or fat or whatever… (there’s a list, believe me)

Maybe that’s the only way to get through to some people.  I always listen to criticism and try to change, even when it’s painful.  Holy crap, especially after putting my stuff out there with a book, I’ve been told everything from “You are hilarious and will be a best seller!” to “I just wiped my ass with your book.”  I was even told to change my picture.  But I take it all in, process, change some stuff, take inventory, and move on.  I wonder if some people just don’t have that capability.  Then there are the people that hear and don’t change a thing because they are convinced they know better.  Ummmm, how’s that been working for you so far?  Still not dating any women or getting a new job, well then by all means keep on doin’ what you’re doin’.  Keep on keepin’ on!  Stay creepy!  Try to remember… change is good.

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If You Hated High School… Get Over It

19 Feb

So I got some emails regarding my high school reunions this week.  Wait, do I tell you what number?  Oy I don’t really care but sometimes these younger little cretins will tune you out if you say you are “older”.  Well, hey ya’ little douchecopters it’s my 30th high school reunion and I f-in’ rock!

Did I tell you I got a new phone and I still can’t figure the fucking thing out?  It keeps dinging at me.  Stop it!

Anyway, oh yea 30 years.  Oh and why did I say “reunions” you might ask?  Well, I was born and raised in one place and then I moved to another place 2 hours away when I was a junior in high school.  Really incredibly crappy time to move, took me about 20 years to get over.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.

But anyway I go to the reunion of the high school I actually graduated from and then I go to the reunion of the place that is really my home.  The place I call home is where I was born, my 5 brothers and sisters were born and my Dad was born and my Dad’s parents were born.  Anybody before that came from Ireland.  So there was a lot of tradition there.  The other place I was a fish out of water but still made some good friends.

The last several reunions I went to both reunions.  This year, wouldn’t you know it both are on the same weekend.  I think I’ll probably go to the place I was born reunion.

But a lot of you are probably saying, “HS reunion, blech I’d never go to mine I hated high school”.  Sorry but you people kind of bug me as those “sour grapes” types.  Someone had to say it and I finally did.  I know, so much in this world is “not cool” and it’s really cool to shun things.  But honestly, I had some of the best times of my life at reunions.

So you may have been picked on in high school or not one of the cool ones, what better way to say “in your face, you didn’t take me down, I’m still here and I make a lot of money now, so suck it”.   Or something to that effect… than to go to your reunion and look ’em in the eye and smile?

I’m not saying high school was the best time of my life… because college was.  But it’s not about high school per say, it’s about your childhood.  That’s why I feel so much more comfortable at the place I grew up because those were people, some of which I have known from pre-school.  Who else can you laugh with about the kid in 1st grade who always tucked his shirt into his underpants which showed out his pants and had a strange attraction to the nuns at school?

It’s familiar, it’s home.  It’s Mom and Dad, and the street where you lived, and the stoops you sat on, and the corner store.  It’s not about the dickhead named “Meat” that used to stuff you in a locker.  It’s not about Denise who told everyone you were a slut.  Remember the good childhood pals you had.  Also, I almost guarantee you will befriend Meat and Denise at the reunion..

People change.  Everyone is an asshole as a teenager.  Even my own kids.  Ok, not really kids, sorry.  But they can do jerky things at times.  And every time I went to a reunion the kids who were assholes in high school either A.) Don’t show up because they are miserable people to begin with and think it’s stupid or they are embarrassed because they don’t look like they did in high school (i.e. weight gain or hair loss). B.) They show up and they are really nice to you and say they are sorry for being an asshole in high school or C.) Show up and just kind of stick to the other idiots they hung with in high school.  They aren’t mean to anyone but they are embarrassed about what a putz they were in high school.  They had enough guts to show up but not quite enough to apologize.  And that’s ok.

I’ve never once encountered someone being a jerk at a high school reunion.  Nor has anyone I’ve ever known.  It’s actually always been kind of a… healing process.  I don’t know if that’s the right term.  You just kind of get to clear up some stuff in your head.  You get apologies.  You find out what really happened on prom night.  You find out why Joey was really kicked off the football team.   You find out that Linda really broke up with you not because she didn’t like you but because her Mother made her because Mom was an alcoholic and getting a divorce and if she couldn’t be happy, no one could. (seriously, this happened)   It’s like an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries”.  And if you’re single you can always hook up with an old flame (that is single) or someone you always wanted to hook up with (that is single).  Did that.  That was awesome.

Yea, I know we all have Facebook now and that connects you to people but just like internet dating people are COMPLETELY different in person… and when alcohol is involved.  I know, my 20th reunion I ended up in a hot tub in a t-shirt and underwear with a bunch of other classmates…

Another added bonus… great business contacts!  Seriously, I’ve known so many people who made connections, got new business, found new jobs, or found funding for a project.  It’s a great networking opportunity.

So before you poo-poo the high school reunion again, just think about it… get the stick out of your ass and see it as a positive experience.  🙂




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