The Desire: In 1990, after the loss of my daughter, Tasheia, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), I realized that the extension of my parenting journey could continue through the lives of others. My desire to be an adoptive parent introduced me to this new world, but the process was tedious, littered with lots of red tape, and extremely frustrating. Although, at the time, I did not move forward with completing the process due to these challenges, the desire still remained a flame that just needed to be stoked at the right time in my life.
In 2013, the desire to do something in the fostering community returned stronger than ever, and at the time, I believed it was to be a foster parent. I shared my interest to foster children with family and friends and most were very supportive. One friend in particular knew my heart, and in knowing me, suggested I pray and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit before moving forward. He was concerned that I would not want to let go in the event of reunification. After some reflection on these comments, I realized he was correct.
The Prompt: On November 11, 2013, the flame that continued to burn in my heart began to blaze when my pastor made a statement in his message and I felt that God was speaking to me directly. He said “when you think about what you can’t do, it distracts you from what you can do”. Instantly I realized that while I might not be ready to be a foster parent (right now), there was still something that I could do…
Taking Action: In December of 2013, I sent an email to all my friends and family asking them to assist me in sponsoring a “foster child” for Christmas. I asked everyone to donate at least $5 and that I would match up to $100 collected. The response was tremendous; I was able to purchase everything on my “Angel” wish list ($400).
The Prompt: God then prompted me that I needed to do more. This led me to a coordinator at DFACS. During our first meeting, I shared my desire to serve foster kids. After this initial meeting we worked together to organize a carnival in May 2014 to celebrate National Foster Care Month. I then shared my vision to host quarterly birthday parties for foster kids. I learned that a lot of these kids’ situation has been so unstable that they have never had a birthday party, it was my desire to ensure that every foster child in Gwinnett County did have that experience. I later read an article on how often times kids are moved from home to home and have no personal items to take with them, and those that do, their belongings are often stuff in a garbage bag. I wanted to change that, so I decided that not only will I host a birthday party, but I would ensure every child gets a book bag and a personal gift. The book bag, not intended for school, is for them to keep their most precious items, so that if/when they are moved to another location, they can take it with them. I have no idea where God is leading me with this journey but I am pumped up and ready to follow his lead.
The Journey Continues: In 2014, I said that I had no idea where God was leading me with this journey, but whatever he asked I would do. Well, my next prompt was to host birthday parties for foster kids in each and every county in Georgia. This is a huge task, but I know that with God’s help, we can do it.
In 2017, we began two new initiatives:
Holidays in the Home: We partnered with an organization called YESS (Youth Empowerment Support Services) to provide support to youths who are transitioning out of foster care .
The Soothing the Soul initiative is a program where we provide children entering foster care for the first time a duffle bag filled with essential items for their first couple of days in foster care (e.g., a 1 year old’s duffle bag would include, diapers, wipes, two outfits, a stuff animal, a book, lotion, bathing soap, and shampoo and conditioner.