Shonya Anderson, MSW, is currently the foster parent recruitment specialist with The Up Center, a 130-year old non-profit organization headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. The Up Center’s mission is to protect children, strengthen families, empower people in crisis, and help those with disabilities maximize their fullest potential. The Up Center serves 10,000 people every year in Hampton Roads. For more information, visit www.theupcenter.org.
Just a few minutes of your time can “change a child’s lifetime”
“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.” ~H. Jackson Brown
If you’re like me, your heart’s desire is to give back to the community and help children in need. There are 1,042 Hampton Roads children in foster care (enough to fill two average size elementary schools in your neighborhood) and each one needs your support.
So, how do you support youth in foster care when your grocery list, a pile of dirty laundry, and a bowl of soggy Cheerios is staring you in the face? Believe me, you’re not alone. I think we can all relate to the struggle we have with our “heart” and the “hour hand.” So what can you do?
Whether you have a few minutes, a few hours, a few weeks or even more time, there are ways you can support children and teens in foster care and “change a lifetime.” Here are some examples:
If you have a few minutes…
Help recruit foster parents. It’s as simple as posting a flyer on a community bulletin board in a local restaurant, leaving a few brochures on the resource table at your place of worship or in the reception area at your doctor’s or veterinarian’s office.
Make a contribution to an agency that supports the mission of Protecting Children.
If you have a few hours...
Raise awareness by coordinating presentations to your faith-based organization, civic group, PTA, fraternity, sorority, or other neighborhood association. Most foster care and adoption agencies can provide speakers and literature.
If you have a few weeks…
Become a short-term care foster parentand give full-time foster parents a break on the weekends, during an out-of-town emergency or while they attend an adult only event, such as a wedding or graduation.
Encourage business leaders in your community to support youth in foster care. Ask your company to distribute material in paycheck stubs, post flyers on bulletin boards, forward an email to employees, etc.
If you have more time…
Become a foster or adoptive parent.You don’t have to be young, married, rich, highly educated, own a big house, or have kids of your own. Caring families are especially needed for teens, sibling groups and children with special needs.
Now, take your eyes off the clock and take the next minute to contact a local foster care or adoption agency to let them know how you’d like to support a child in foster care. It’s time well spent!
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