For the last 20 years, my husband and I have been mentoring teenagers who had a rough start in life. We've served as school teachers, mentors, coaches, camp counselors... and now, as Foster Parents. Over the last 10 years, we've had close to 30 young people, teenagers, live in our home... some for a weekend... some for 2-3 months... some for 3 or more years. We want to do more. We NEED to do more. We are compelled to do more, but we are out of space in our home. Last summer, we walled in a 5x8 space in our dinning room to make room for "just one more," but its not enough. We are raising funds to expand so we can essentially become a group home for teenagers, complete with some independent living apartments upstairs for when they age out of the foster-care system to give them some extra time to get on their feet and save up for a down-payment on a home or their first apartment. We really want to build a facility... a campus.... loving a home... that will allow us to set them up for Success!
Most of our kids came to us between age 9 and 16. We've had four older teens / young adults as well. All but two of our kids have been girls. Their painful stories are often similar: Messy Bitter Spiteful Divorces, Angry Alcoholic Parents, and Sexual Abuse or Rape. Put those three together with a sense of abandonment and hopelessness and our kids struggle with low self esteem, self worth and self identity issues, self injury (cutting) and a few have been diagnosed with PTSD from the abuse they suffered growing up. One came to us detoxing from an opiate drug addiction.
By the grace of God, all of the young people we've fostered for extended periods have launched successfully into the next chapter of their lives. And while we are thrilled with the turnarounds we've seen in their lives, we know there are more young people who need a family to take them in and welcome them with loving arms. Our 1,000 sqft ranch just doesn't allow us to take in any more right now but we aren't willing to let that stop us. An architech has donated his time to design a floor plan and build a model for this new group home facility, that will not only provide desperately needed bedrooms, but also a second floor transitional apartment upstairs, so when our children age-out of foster care, they can remain apart of the household, while beginning to live more independently. This will give them some extra time to get on their feet financially and save up for a down-payment on a home or their first apartment. We really want to build a facility that will allow us to set them up for Success, and we need your donations and shares to do it.
Raising $125,000 will get us well on our way to breaking ground, pouring the foundation, and getting the framing and exteriors up and dry so we can start bringing our dream to fruition. Reaching our goal of $225,000 will allow us to make real progress on the inside of the facility as well!
Our kids love the experiences we are able to provide during their time in our home. Camping, Hiking, Boating, Water Skiing, Crabbing, Road Trips...
Grandpa took this photo of us watching fireworks on his boat on the 4th of July....
Two of our kids really LOVE Buffalo Wild Wings
We make Birthday's a big deal in our home....
Sometimes, we just watch movies in the living room
or go watch a local sports game at the high school
But the most important experience we can give our kids, is the sense that they are Safe... they are Loved... and that we will never abandon them. One of our kids has two favorite movie quotes:
"Ohana means Family... and family means no body gets left behind, or forgotten" from lilo and stitch.
and "Keep Moving Forward" which is a Walt Disney quote from Meet the Robinsons.
We've been privileged to see one of our kids graduate high school after 4 years with us, and then automotive technical college... and another graduate a 4 year university, and then go on to get her Master's degree. She filled out every grant application she could find, wrote letters to churches, sent support letters to extended family members and scraped up enough to get through school, working and studying. A third was reunited with her birth family after a few months in our home and she also graduated a 4 year college. Every goal our kids accomplish is nothing short of amazing, considering the situation they grew up in and the challenges they've had to overcome.
Ultimately, we'd like to raise five times our goal.... and use the excess to fully realize our Architect's design, furnish the facility, upgrade a lot of hand-me-down furniture and bedding we are using right now. Moreover, we want to provide our kids with the types of trips and experiences they never had, growing up. We want to open their eyes to the possibilities outside of this little farm town we live in. We also have begun the process of launching a organization to support other Foster Families who have big hearts to help children and teens, but lack the financial means to fully serve those they are called to minister to.
You can learn more about our heart and our passion in the video below we created to share the combined stories of so many of the teenagers who have come to live with our family...
We thank you for your gifts and donations.... for your words of encouragement... for your prayers... and for sharing this campaign with your friends and family and on social media. Thank you for joining with us in this ministry to our kids who have had a rough start in life.
Living a #LifeofContribution
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- Ryan Williams
- Ruth Cope
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