Three years ago, our family had the opportunity to provide a few weekends of respite for a sibling set of 2 little boys, Jacob* (age 6) and his brother Joey* (age 5). While adding them to the mix of bio and foster kiddos of our own proved a tad overwhelming, I soon realized that my definition of what constituted a lot to handle paled in comparison to what some of our foster children experience before they reach our home.
One particular weekend, I discovered as I was driving down Division St. with a car full of six kids, that I had lost my wallet. Bummer, I thought...
A month ago, River West and A Jesus Church partnered together to complete the final stage of the makeover projects at the Midtown DHS office: the staff lounge and kitchen area. When Judy Harris walked into that office two years ago, this area was not being used. Torn chairs, pieces of furniture in excess, lavender walls, and a molding sink area in the kitchen all kept the staff workers far from this place intended to “lounge.” The quiet heroes in this office kept to themselves at their desks on a short break, and meanwhile, this area continued collecting dust, furniture, and mold instead of laughter, peace and solace after a long day and deeply emotional work.
Our makeover was a dramatic success. The staff lounge was equipped with high grade furniture where staff meetings can be held. Crisp bright lines cover the walls, and new sophisticated furniture filled the corners. This new comfortable and clean spot invited staff in. Tea and coffee caddies were stocked, the magazine rack filled, and as these pieces came together, it was now a place where these staff members could come and retreat for a few minutes. Over the past two years, the relationship fostered between DHS and River West Church has become increasingly tender and special. They have reached out to us for needs beyond beautifying the walls of their office. In times of need, they turned to us—Christ’s body—and we have tangibly become hands and feet to the orphan and the widow.
In concluding this phase of our work at DHS, we decided to host a luncheon for the staff in their new and improved lounge. Conversations were buzzing in every corner of the room and plates stacked high with BBQ chicken, salad and more cookies than we knew what to do with. We came in and I sat in a new chair in the newly redone conference room and shared lunch with a caseworker. She told me, “You’ll never know what heartache looks like for a little child until you see it day in and day out.” As she sat there in vulnerability, there was a moment, while looking around the room, I saw the impact of this newly completed project. Hundreds of children filter through this office, and these case workers assiduously give their hearts and lives in service. This particular case worker had a refreshing energy to her, as she shared, “Christians should be the ones responding to foster care. Because, as Christians, we are the ones that have hope. We have hope to give to these children in need.”
Give and share the hope of Jesus to a child in need through foster care. If you’re interested in getting involved in foster care (which can mean an array of things!), let’s get coffee. Email Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was the first weekend of December and our first weekend “open” for foster care, and we were awaiting a call with baited breath. My husband and I have no kids of our own, and had nothing but an “idea” of what shelter foster care would look like. We were excited to finally be jumping in, but a little anxious as well.
Nothing materialized Friday. No calls on Saturday. And, after saying no to a severely violent and challenged 10-year-old boy on Sunday (and both feeling immense guilt about it), we got a call at 5:44am on Monday morning requesting care for a few hours--until DHS opened--for a 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy. They were in two locations, but the police had found Ruthie walking around downtown by herself...at 5am...in the cold. Her fifth birthday had been the day before, on Sunday.