It's been a while between posts and I'm rededicating myself to weekly blogs (again). Sometimes I just feel a little overwhelmed by life – ever feel that way? Between the weather this winter, the continuing polarization of our country, or the horrendous crimes that occur right in our backyard, it can all just get to be too much.

This is the second post in a mini-series looking at ways that we can make a difference in our communities. Specifically in the lives of the children in our communities. I am woefully ill equipped to address this. I'm researching as we go and I pray for your grace and assistance. The foster care system and child advocacy is not an area in which I am well versed. And that is the point of the series, to familiarize myself with the avenues available to get engaged and make a difference, and to share those findings with you.

Last time I posted was about respite care and you can find that post here. The genesis of that post was the tragedy that occurred here in Springfield when a young girl was kidnapped and murdered. Incidents like this leave us feeling so helpless and angry. I wanted to find a way to channel that energy into something that would make a difference. Two of the members of The Chapel are foster parents, and a close friend has spent the last year working diligently with neglected children in Georgia, they inspired the last post talking about respite care – and really, this series. As a reminder, respite care is a way of giving foster families a break and also connecting with a child that is currently in a foster care environment. While foster families can have babysitter's in their home for temporary breaks, respite care allows you to bring a foster child into your home for up to 72 hours, giving the foster families time to re-focus. Respite care is an important way that you can support foster families to avoid burn out, while also impacting the life of a child in foster care.

Tonight I want to highlight CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA Volunteers are ordinary people who have gone through about 30 hours of training and are appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. Based on the information available on the CASA Website advocates are typically assigned one to two cases at a time. Each case would require approximately 10 hours or research prior to the court date and the 10-15 hours per month until the case is closed. The special advocate does not replace the attorney or the social worker's in a case, but are specifically appointed to represent the children's best interest.

I would love to have a guest post from someone who is an active advocate today. Please send me a note via the contact me link on the blog or messag me via facebook if you are interested in helping us out, or know someone who is. I'm looking to either have someone write a post for us, or I can do an interview and write the post from that.

Fair warning – I'm going to be asking for a lot of help in this series. This is so important and I'm amazed by how little I know about how an ordinary citizen can work to protect a child. But – I have an awesome net of friends who do amazing things for our kids and I'm counting on you to help educate the rest of us.

So calling all social workers, CASA volunteers, foster parents, adoptive parents, and anyone else who wants to highlight how we can help our hurting kids – help me get the word out!

And finally – I would encourage everyone to check out this blog post about foster care. I know I've thought, and still do, “I just don't think I have it in me to do this. I just don't think I could handle it.” This is a gentle post that confronts that thinking. Take a few minutes, it's worth it.

As a christian I can be disheartened by the lack of unity in the body – but this is something we can all do together. This is a place where we can stand as directed by Jesus and take care of the least. This is my heartfelt hope and prayer. Thanks for walking with me.

Here is the information for the Greene county CASA program:

CASA of Southwest MO

Director: Pat Reiser

1111 S. Glenstone Ave. Ste. 2-100 Springfield, MO 65804

(417) 864-6202 x 252

(417) 864-6280 (fax)

preiser@casaswmo.org (email)

www.casaswmo.org

In honor of my own littles.
I wish all were loved as these two are.

 

I was traveling away from my family yesterday when I heard the news about the abduction in Springfield. I, along with so many others, kept refreshing my facebook page and checking news sources to see if anyone had located her. Just before going to sleep I saw that they had arrested a suspect…but they had not found the cherished little girl. I went to bed with a heavy heart but still hoping for a miracle. When I woke this morning, the first thing on my mind was Hailey. I said a prayer and reached for my phone, hoping beyond hope to see a happy ending. But there was no happy ending to this unfolding drama.

I've thought all day about her family, the witnesses, the police, the schools, and the hundreds of people directly touched by this event. I've prayed for all those 'what if' scenarious to be silenced. I've prayed for peace and comfort. This is unimaginable. It's a blessedly rare thing, a stranger abduction. But statistics are cold comfort in the light of fresh grief and tangible fear.

These tragedies leave us all feeling so helpless. They invoke our fear, our anger, but also our desire to reach out to help. I take some comfort in the fact that when one person commits such atrocious evil, thousands more respond with such amazing and profound love.

But despite that comfort, if I am honest, I am mostly overcome by anger and fear. It is in situations such as these that we can become overwhelmed by our more base desires, and crippled by our fears. I needed to find some way to channel all of this emotion and energy away from the cause of revenge, and into the cause of restoration.

So I reached out tonight to a couple of my friends that work with abused children. I knew that they would be processing this situation differently than those of us who are not used to confronting evil so directly. There is a heroic segment of our population who confront horrific stories on a daily basis. They step into the chaos and work tirelessly to restore order for children. One child at a time, day after day. So I asked them – what can we do? What is a tangible, concrete way that I and other's who are struggling with this tragedy, can make a difference in the life of a child? They had several suggestions but I'll focus on just one of their suggestions this evening – respite care for foster families.

Respite care is designed to provide relief from the stresses of the constant responsibilities that foster families face. Maybe you are not able to be a full time foster family but you have a heart to help kids. Respite care allows you to connect with children in a more temporary setting and not only provide them with healthy relationships, but also give some relief to those amazing families who are fostering full time. You do have to be licensed which means you have to submit an application and go through the different background checks. That process is described in full (for Missouri) here. What a fantastic way to support children and families! Do take note though, the process to get licensed takes some time and you need to be tenacious in the process, but what a wonderful way to channel all of our need and desire to help!

If you feel like respite care is also more than you are able to provide right now, you can reach out to the various organizations that support foster kids. I'll provide a link to several of them below. They are always on the lookout for new and used items, and monetary support is always needed as well.

Family Matters Resourse Center: Strengthening families, children, and youth touched by foster care or adoption through training, support, community collaboration and advocacy. This is a local organization providing support for our great foster and adoptive families.

AdoptUsKids.org is a great resource for both adopting and fostering families.

GreatCircle.org is the new site for Boys & Girls Town of Missouri – another great organization that helps our at risk kids.

The impact that we could have, as a community, to positively impact the lives of children cannot be under estimated. I will find a way to connect with the foster and adoption community in Springfield and I will do this in honor of that young life taken so tragically. I hope you will, too.

 

“….because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

The Velveteen Rabbit

I pray that's right.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I am really excited – the Project Home Indy trip is just one week away!

I sent a message letting them know that we were trying to organize a little mini fundraiser for them. I included a question for them after some of you noticed that there were no baby clothes on their Amazon wish list. Here is their response:

Hi Julie!

That's so nice of you all! Yes! We accept new or gently used baby clothes up to 2T.

Our teens are often more in need of clothing- anything soft and stretchy is best- yoga pants, sweats, PJ's and soft tees suit everyone!

Thanks again!!

Project Home Indy

So if any of you have any gently used or new baby clothes, or comfy clothes for the momma's, they would be very appreciated.

Here is the link again to the Amazon Wish List. If you haven't used an Amazon Wish List before – you can click and purchase any of the items listed – they have amounts needed and the list updates as you buy so you can be certain that you aren't getting duplicate items. Amazon will ship the items direct to Project Home Indy.

If the shipping costs are at issue – feel free to pick the things up locally (Springfield/Crocker areas). Mom and I will arrange to get them from you and take them with us! Just leave us a comment on the blog or facebook.

Let's take a moment to pray for Project Home Indy and for those young mom's. Let's just shower them with prayer on this beautiful Sunday.

The best part of donating is the underlying message to those young mom's that they matter, and we care. We donate small, but they feel big. Sometimes all it takes to make the next right choice is knowing that people care if you do.

Please message me or comment with any questions you may have and thank you for participating!

Much love and Happy Sunday!

To learn more about Project Home Indy click here.

Here is how I learned about them.

 

Introducing the 'Let's DO something' section of our blog!!!

This is our first official event. It is 'official' because we are calling it official – criteria is very high around here.

In early March a blog I follow called Momastery introduced her readers to Project Home Indy. This is an amazing organization that goes deep to impact the lives of teen mom's. They give these girls a home, therapy, childcare – real tools to make a real difference.

Click here to see the story the founder wrote to Momastery about their organization. It's powerful stuff.

My mom and I are making a roadtrip to Indianapolis next weekend, May 4/5, to attend a charity event for Project Home Indy. The author of Momastery will be speaking at the event – I am so excited!

We are also hoping to take a car full of stuff to these girls – or at least a nice list of things that have been sent! I am personally loading up all my DVD's and a ton of books – the girls need things to do and a call out on facebook asked for DVD's.

But they have lots of needs. That's where we will come in.

Click HERE to go to their website and see their Amazon wish list – there are all kinds of items, big and small. You can order right from Amazon and they will ship the stuff direct to Project Home Indy.

All I ask is you leave a little note saying that you are going to DO this with us. You don't have to list what you donated, it isn't about how much, it's about the DO! If you are like me this process of looking at poverty differently has been a hard road – and this is our reward. A moment to give to an organization that goes deep to resolve the full scope of needs, and a chance to be a part of a group that is really investing in the lives of these girls.

If you have movies or books to donate and you live in the Springfield or Crocker area you can leave a comment and we will arrange a way to pick them up before we leave.

Thank you so much! We will be looking at how to best get involved with organizations addressing poverty going forward in the series, but this is a little chance to stop talking and start Do'ing :).

 

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