Why we need a new children’s charity

Allow me to share a story with you about why I love children in the foster system and why helping them is my passion; essentially, why we need a new children’s charity.

Twenty years ago, I had a baby store (we sold infant apparel and furniture, not babies)…Wait, let me start over.

It was a dark and stormy night (it really was) when a woman came into my store with three little ones under the age of five. None were wearing coats, or warm clothes for that matter, or shoes. “What are you doing dragging those children out in this freezing weather dressed like that?” I demanded.

“They aren’t my children. I just picked them up from the foster agency. They have nothing. Can you help us?”

My attitude toward this woman immediately shifted. “Of course,” I said.

She walked up to the counter where I stood and set the smallest child down on the counter. She was 18 months old and had been so neglected she didn’t know how to walk, but she could crawl. Across the counter, her bony little knees and hands carried her, all the way to me. Her big blue eyes looked up at me while she raised her arms. This beautiful little baby girl was asking me, a total stranger, to pick her up and love her! I wept.

The kind woman shared her story of caring for children who had been abused and neglected, children in the foster system. All in need of love, stability, food and medical help. Their parents: addicted to drugs, live in filth, neglect their children’s basic needs, or physically and emotionally hurt them.

That night my purpose in life became clear: help these children. No child deserves to be starved, beaten, left alone, locked up, neglected or molested.

Several years later, with three of my own biological children, I became a foster mom. It was the most rewarding and fulfilling time imaginable (along with raising my own babies.) In this time, I had the pleasure to help raise nine children, each one remarkable.

Every child who came through our doors was resilient, strong, smart and loving. They were also scared, anxious, worried, hungry and behind academically.

The preschool age children were already behind their peers.  Not one knew any letters of the alphabet, or numbers or colors or shapes. One child didn’t even know his name, which left me wondering what his parents called him.

Immediately, I saw many needs: preschool, tutoring, parenting classes, youth support systems, free resources for clothing, toys, furniture, school supplies, and more loving families to adopt these lovable little ones. They needed a charity for children.

My first priority was to put the tots in preschool. In case you didn’t know, preschool costs roughly $400-$600 a month, per child. That was out of my budget. So I called Headstart, which is a state-funded preschool. It took two months for someone to call me back and then two more weeks after that for someone to come to our home and do an evaluation. Weeks later…I called them to find out the children qualified (of course they did) for the free preschool, but there was no room. We’d have to wait for an opening. Six months later, still no opening. Nine months later the children moved into another foster home. And guess what? The process had to start all…over…again.

Now several years later, I am embarking on a mission to make a difference. With old friends and new friends at my side to help, I know we will succeed.

Our mission: to help all children experience the joys of childhood.

Our vision: to provide a free preschool (for children in the foster system only) and offer resources to help youth (both in and aged out), succeed in life.

This is our children’s charity – Fostering Hope For Youth.