This last year with All For Family has been a bumpy, windy road, full of stress, confusion, excitement, amazement, and peace. There were times I questioned whether we would be able to keep going; whether I would be able to keep going.
With Covid, and all of the other illnesses going around this year, we faced many canceled visits, with several being last minute. We struggled to find coverage for supervised family visits, but, in nearly every instance, our amazing volunteers pulled through and got it done. I think we only had a couple of instances where we were unable to cover some of a family's visit hours they had with us.
There have been times were I have felt sluggish, and like I was letting others down because I wasn't moving as quickly as I would like for various tasks. I realized, though, that I simply need help, and I have been learning to delegate more. There is only one me, and I can only do so much. Sometimes other things need my attention, especially my family.
With my husband being hospitalized with Sepsis, and with parenting my own foster child who is overcoming trauma, grief & loss, I have questioned if I am taking too much time away from them. I especially questioned this when taking him to our office with me one day triggered his trauma, as he also did supervised visitation there (I am so grateful we will be moving to a new location soon). He is adjusting to kindergarten life this year, T-Ball, and Soccer, and, when not doing those things, he is in constant need of my love and attention, as most kids his age are. I wouldn't trade this part of my life for anything, though.
Our Foster Parent Training Extravaganza was a lot of work, took a great deal out of me, and took me a while to bounce back energy wise once it was over, but I am so very glad we did it. Foster Parents seemed to really enjoy the event, learning from other foster parents, and have asked for the event again next year. I asked one youth what she enjoyed most about the event, and she said, "Making new friends". Those words alone made it all worth while. Having been a foster youth myself, I know how hard it is to feel like you belong and fit in, wondering and knowing that few around you have any idea what you are going through.
Even though there have been times this year where I have had to sit back and reflect, those moments where I am sharing a heartfelt, tear jerker kind of phone call with a mom who is contemplating going to rehab to make a better life for her and child, followed by additional calls learning that after we talked, she did indeed go to rehab, remind me of why I on this journey.
I have shared countless phone calls with grateful bio parents who are so happy we are providing a service that will help them see their children, and a multitude of case managers who repeatedly tell us how much our program is needed. I have seen amazing volunteers and board members step up and help carry the weight, and a wonderful community pull together to show their support. We have been immensely blessed through the Jefferson Foundation, along with churches such as Raintree Church, Cedar Hill Lutheran, and City on a Hill Church, for which we are so very grateful.
So, in gearing up for 2022, I am still here, and will keep doing the work we have promised. This next year will look a bit different with growth and change for All For Family. We will be bringing on admin support, and we will trying to figure out some kind of salary for me as well. Up until now, every person with our agency, including myself, have been strictly volunteer based. My family circumstances are changing, though, and I want to keep giving All For Family everything I've got. We have so much more to bring to our community; I have so much more to give.
My hopes for 2022 are to move into a larger building where we can double our supervised visit space to serve more than one family visit at a time, finally establish an indoor play space/birthday party venue, and obtain State Contracts for Parent Education Classes, Parent Aid Services, Foster Parent Training Classes, and another Foster Parent Training Extravaganza. Since I have a Master's in Education, the State Contracts would help generate a salary for me, while also helping bring an increase in vital services to our county.
This will take a lot of time and resources, but, with the help and support of our community, I know we can do it. I hope you will join me on this journey to be a part of the change we are bringing to Jefferson County and the Foster Care System.
You can help us by volunteering to supervise family visits, offering services in a skilled profession, becoming a sponsor, making a donation, helping to share information about All For Family and what we doing, donating items we need for our building, particularly when we move to a larger building, inviting us to speak at your church, business, or organization, and simply by being there to lend a helping hand when we need it.
In the meantime, from All For Family to your family, we wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season!
Always remember: One person can make a difference! Let Change Begin With You!