In honor of National Foster Care Month and the more than 400,000 children in the foster system nationwide, the team at Families Helping Families of Iowa decided to reach out to a foster parents and volunteers in our community to learn more about their experiences, what they’ve learned and what volunteering at FHF has been like for them.
How did you first get involved with Families Helping Families (FHF)?
Our first involvement in FHF was in December 2005. We had finished our training and were waiting on our license. We got a call late in the afternoon to take 2 boys, brothers who were 5 and 6 years old. These boys were being picked up from school and had only the clothes they had on. I told the DHS worker that we had not gotten our license and did not have clothing for boys of this age. We were directed to pick the boys up at the Families Helping Families Clothing Closet and we could get a week’s worth of clothes for each of the boys, along with our license. We were amazed with everything Families Helping Families provided the boys. Over time we had six boys and one girl in our home. We learned to keep clothes on-hand for when we needed them, using the Clothing Closet for things we did not have. When a call comes to take a 4-day-old baby at 5 p.m. and you have 20 minutes to get prepared, or you get a call at 10:30 at night a week before Christmas, you have to have items to get you through until the closet opens. FHF was always ready to help with whatever we needed.
Why support this cause?
As a foster parent you never know when you will get a call to take a child and what the child will come with. Some come with the clothes they have on, some come with clothing in a garbage bag. Whatever a case worker can get is all the child has. These children just need a safe place to go and supplies to give them a loving, supportive home. These children deserve to have clothing, blankets, toys and things like any other child would have. By providing the basic needs to these children, it helps give them confidence, self-esteem, helps them feel more a part of a family, and like their friends or kids they go to school with.
What do you wish other people knew about helping children in foster care?
Foster children are no different from any other child. These children are not bad they are just in a bad situation that they have no control over. They want to be loved and cared for just like any other child.
What do you like about volunteering for FHF?
By volunteering at FHF I know that I am helping to make the life of our foster children better, so that they can be positive and confident children in our society. We are helping our next generation be better and stronger individuals.
FHF was started in the Cedar Rapids area by a foster family that saw the need of our foster children. This organization has grown to offer so much more than clothing to these children, shoe vouchers for new shoes, school supplies, haircuts, scholarships for extra activities and programs, senior pictures and much more. By helping the children in foster care now we will help them to become better people, stronger productive members of our society, helping them to not be just a number in the system. By helping to keep these children out of the system by giving them a positive upbringing we are helping our next generation.
“The best day of our lives, the day we adopted our daughter. She is the fourth generation of her family to be in foster care!”