Our Mentor Recognition Award recipient for 2021 received three strong nominations, two from recent mentee’s and one from her caseworker. She is a very worthy recipient for the Mentor Recognition Award for 2021. 

Christina Hernandez has been a foster parent for 10 years and a Mentor for 4 years, supporting 15 new foster and kinship families. Somehow, she also finds time to be active with both the Calgary Foster Parents Association as a Director and in working closely with Marie’s Clothing Boutique.

When asked what strengths she feels like she brings to the Mentor Program, Christina replied, “we are blessed to have some pretty incredible foster parents in our region. They, like me, question whether they are doing enough, or doing it right. Validating their concerns, having a listening ear and being a soft place for vulnerability, is what I aim for. We’ve all had nights of crying ourselves to sleep because we feel like we are failing. Supporting each other through those moments of weakness, is what matters, and is my goal as a mentor.”

Her caseworker feels that “Christina goes above and beyond with the families she works with to ensure they feel supported, educated and skilled in their role as new foster parents. She guides them with her kindness, openness and humour.”  “She is always brainstorming new ways to relationship building and support that is unique for each caregiver.”

I think one of her greatest strength’s lies in her ability to cheerfully navigate the challenges that come with parenting four children in care with varying needs and delays.  Christina’s love and commitment to each of the children in her home is evident in the way she reassures them, includes them and patiently supports them while encouraging their growth.” Her caseworker added, “I have trouble articulating how great she is.”

One of her mentee’s commented that she was available when they were getting their first infant placement and spent hours helping them shop and get a crib set up for their first baby placement. Her mentees also mentioned her availability, gift of listening, encouraging conversation, positive feedback, how respectful she is. One of her past mentee’s added, that having her as a mentor is probably one of the reasons, they are still foster parents.

It is evident, Christina loves being a mentor!  When asked if there was anything she’d like to pass along to someone who is considering becoming a mentor, she said, “sitting and chatting about something I am passionate about, hardly seems like work. I have rubbed shoulders with some pretty incredible humans, who are striving to lighten someone else’s load, as a foster parent. They have encouraged and inspired me probably more than I have them and I have made many new friends through being a mentor.”

We are ever grateful for all she brings to the Mentor Program, her mentee’s, the CFPA and her growing family. It is an honour to acknowledge her tremendous effort with this Regional Mentor Recognition Award.