Posted on May 7, 2019
On Sunday, members of The CALL hosted a volunteer fair to reach out to the community about ways they can help The CALL with its mission of helping foster and adoptive families.
Possible volunteer areas included financial support, The CALL Mall, Christmas/birthday sponsors, church representatives, teen services, foster/adoptive care, yard work/maintenance, childcare and training.
Karen Langston, Union County Coordinator for The CALL, said not everybody is made to be a foster or adoptive parent, but she wanted to make it clear that there are other ways members of the community can help the children in the system in Union County.
“People think that The CALL is we recruit foster parents, which yes that’s what we do, but there’s also a support element of our work,” Langston said. “We want the community to see there’s so much more to this than foster care. You can see when you look around, we have all the different departments so it can be broken down to your skill level. If you want to be a foster parent, then we’ll talk. If you want to cook a family dinner, then we’ll talk.”
One of the areas that isn’t as commonly thought of is the yard work/maintenance help for families. Langston said foster families can host up to six children at a time and many of the foster families in Union County both parents work full time, which can make doing work such as fixing a light fixture can be a challenge and not doing so can cause a family to lose the ability to foster.
“When they’re getting off at 5 o’clock at night, they’re coming home to six children,” Langston said. “So it’s a huge help to have them on a Saturday morning not have to spend time raking their yard or doing these little things that we do. I’d rather the family be together and create an opportunity. The maintenance can step in and help them be in compliance. A light fixture that isn’t changed can kick a family from being a foster parent. So we want to be able to step in.”
Langston said the maintenance help can also help a birth family trying to get their children back. She gave the example of if they receive a call about a grandparent who needs a porch built in order to get custody of their grandchild, The CALL would like to have a team of people who can step in and help.
“Yes, we’re going to serve our foster families, but we also want to empower biological families any way that we can,” she said. “Any of our services can help our foster and adoptive families, but if we can get big enough and strong enough in all these different avenues, we can reach out past the foster homes to the biological families.”
The CALL Mall is another area that can help families who need it. Its includes donated items such as clothing, packages of diapers, wipes and other essentials, which families with The CALL can come pick up when they need the extra assistance.
One of the volunteers, Genie Humphries, said The CALL Mall came in handy when she was fostering twins. The twins attended a daycare where they had to be changed every hour, which translated to a lot of diapers. However, the Mall was able to help with making sure there was enough.
In addition to the areas that people may not think of, The CALL offers other assistance. When it comes to childcare, volunteers can help with either individual or group care so that parents can take time off to go on dates or attend training that The CALL offers.
Christmas and birthday sponsors help make sure that children in the system don’t miss presents on the special occasions.
Volunteers with the teen services area work with teens heading toward aging out of foster care as mentors. These teens receive a book of advice on life skills such as managing a budget, finding housing and understanding insurance cards.
PRIDE trainers do training with foster and adoptive parents to help with answering questions and providing support.
“The CALL is a support system,” Humphries said. “If you’re having issues with something, there might be a parent who has been through something similar and can help.”
Another key component of The CALL is church representatives. One of the pushes at the volunteer fair was taking steps to have a representative with each congregation in the area. These representatives are points of contact for The CALL to reach out to if a family needs help with areas such as maintenance and the volunteers signed up are unavailable. Then The CALL can reach out to church reps to help find somebody who can help.
“It’s all about the kids,” Langston said. “We don’t want any kids in foster care. We want every kid with their family. Anything we can do to serve that child, be if a foster home, an adoptive home or a biological home, we want to be able to do that.”
Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.