It takes a village
I knew you could do it!
Thanks to you, David’s story has been shared by over three thousand people. That is three thousand people who are helping David find his mother. Three thousand people who have caught a glimpse into the life of a teen in foster care, bringing us one step closer to a home for every child in state custody who needs a loving parent and a place to call home.
“I just wanted to report back that your blog post has been a resounding success! We received an outpouring of inquiries from people touched by the article. Over the past few days, the inquiries have been steadily coming in[…] The inquiries range from offers of gifts and well wishes mostly, to a handful of folks genuinely interested in adopting or helping youth in foster care in some way. I’ve counted a total of 30 inquiries so far, and more will probably still be coming through in the near future.”
It gets even better. It’s not just David who is one step closer to his family, but other kids just like him. I’ve gotten even more emails like this:
“The awesome news is that your post about David got my husband and I started with the adoption process and we’re planning to work with MARE in finding a child to complete our family.”
“Thank you for sharing David’s story, and thank you for the post that started our adoption journey!”
– Amy R. Maine
I’m proud of you.
YOU did this. You made a difference.
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
David’s story is still spreading through the inter-webs, spreading awareness to people who want to help kids just like David. But this is not a moment to rest on our laurels.
Are you one of the readers who want to help, but don’t know how?
This is your moment.
If you were touched by David’s story, and shared it, you can continue to be a hero.
If you recognize that something isn’t right about fact that there are over one hundred thousand children across the US without families to come home to, you can change it. This is our chance to change lives and offer kids in foster care the support and help they need.
All it takes is one, single, step.
Changing lives doesn’t have to cost anything. It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to become a tedious task in our over-stuffed to-do list. All it takes is a minute.
I’ve seen what you can do, and I know you have the power to help. I believe in you.
You don’t need to be a foster parent to make a huge difference. There is a way we can all pitch in, read on for more ideas:
If you’re short on time:
- Click here to learn about common myths that prevent keep kids from getting placed in life-changing foster homes. Share a quick post on social media once a month addressing one of these myths, and show your friends how to advocate for kids in need.
- Read Jessica Good’s story about her late-age adoption and how having parents as a young adult saved her from a series of hardships.
“Adopting a 17-year-old isn’t about giving them the childhood they never had crammed into one year; it’s about giving them a family to turn to for the rest of their life.”
- “We are kids, not trash.” I can vouch that this is true, because it happened to my little brother, who came to us as a foster when he was three years old: “When most kids enter foster care, they receive two trash bags” to store every belonging they have in. Together We Rise is changing that experience by providing a care package for foster kids – with a duffel bag, hygiene kit, and a few comfort items. Click here to find out how you can sponsor a ‘Sweet Case’ for a child in need.
- Write a thank-you note to DCF workers and any foster-parents you know. There’s no disputing that what they do matters. It can be hard to fight to make a difference day after day, and your kind words and thoughts can inspire them to keep going even through the rough parts. Find out how to support foster parents in your community.
- Is your child you a member of a dance studio, children’s gym, or activity center? Speak to a manager about donating one event opening per month to a group of kids in the foster system with Rise Above in exchange for your enthusiastic, loud, appreciative review on social media and company review websites for every event that they host.
- Go shopping! Visit More Than Words (locations in Boston and Waltham, MA) when you’re looking to purchase books, music and video games. Stop by the cafe to grab some Starbucks coffee while you’re there. The bookstore is a career training center empowering youth to run a business. Neat idea, right?
- And of course there are good old-fashioned donations. Check out the DCF kids fund to find out how you can help provide basic necessities like toothbrushes, diapers, and hot meals to kids in DCF or find out how to provide holiday gifts for kids with Together We Rise.
- Donate your birthday: In just a couple minutes, start a fundraiser page and ask for donations to Together We Rise and ask for your age in dollar donations.
Have a half day to spare?
In the time it takes to binge-watch a Netflix series, check out what a difference you can make:
- Less than 3% of teens who age out of the foster system move on to receive a college education. Cheer them on with care packages through Youth In College Care Packages.
- Hairdressers: Volunteer a weekday at a local shelter or contact Rise Above to set up a volunteer styling session for kids and teens who would glow with the added attention and confidence boost a new look could provide. Extra Credit: Host a fundraiser at your salon to recruit new clients and donate the tax-deductible proceeds to a local shelter or the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE).
- Photographers: The Heart Gallery (across the US) is recruiting both professionals and hobbyists to cover adoption events to highlight kids who need parents. Post-processing your images isn’t necessary, so a quick shoot & burn session could take less than a day of your time. Don’t let your self-doubts keep you from this amazing experience – all intermediate to advanced skill levels are welcome. Massachusetts-specific photographers and cinematrographers can contact MARE directly.
Extra Credit: Landscape and fine-art photographers – auction a piece on your website or at a local business to increase your visibility and donate the tax-deductible proceeds to a local shelter or the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE).
- Writers: Spend a weekend researching common myths about adoption, gathering adoption and fostering stories, and write a blog post or newspaper article to spread awareness about the invisible kids in our community who need a voice to speak for them.
- Bakers: Hold a bake-sale at your local community event and donate the tax-deductible proceeds to a local shelter or the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE).
- Marketing Gurus: Run a workshop for the foster and homeless youth who run the More Than Words bookstore to teach them job skills and vocational training they can use to contribute back to the community.
- Actors and make-believers! Spend a couple hours as a mock-interviewer to help foster and homeless youth train for job interviews at More Than Words.
- Golfers – check out the DCF kids fund annual golf classic.
- Social Butterflies – Organize a volunteer day with friends or co-workers to create care bags or build bikes for kids in foster care with Together We Rise.
- Are you looking for a fun family activity? Register for the annual spring Run/Walk for adoption hosted by Jordan’s Furniture. This year’s event in 2016, there were a ton of fun events including face-painting, create-your-own-frisbee, family dog tag portraits and even free family portraits courtesy of yours truly. I hope to see you next year!
- Volunteer 1.5 hours a month for one year and join the volunteer case review program. Help children in your community find safe homes and earn a small stipend for your time. Click here to learn more.
- Become a respite-care provider to give foster-parents a break from full-time parenting.
- Learn more about mentoring in Massachusetts or across the US across the US to provide much-needed encouragement, guidance, a sense of belonging, and community connections to help one special teen as they transition to adulthood. Create a rewarding relationship with a child who looks up to you – and a friendship for life.
- Check out the fun volunteer opportunities at More Than Words (especially if you love coaching or books!) for weekly or monthly positions to fit your skills and interests.
- Find out how to sponsor a kid, volunteer for the day, or pitch in to buy some new clothes, a toy, or help fund a trip for siblings to reunite at Disney Land for a child in foster care with the help of Together We Rise.
Are you a member of a great company?
- Organize a bike-building event with friends or co-workers – restore childhood for kids in the system and help young adults who have aged out of the system and don’t have access to transportation with the help of Together We Rise.
- Are you a business-owner or member of a community-based organization? Offer a teen in DCF care an entry-level position to provide job training and add a motivated contributor to your team. Click here for more information on the DCF Summer Employment Program.
- Create a foster-family friendly environment and offer support to employees who chose to foster or adopt. Click here (PDF file) for more information on how your company can spread awareness and create opportunities for foster families to balance work and parenting.
- Host a group of youth for a site visit, tour, or shadow day at your place of business or campus to help youth gain critical exposure as they plan for their futures. Or spend half a day running a workshop. Read more at More Than Words.
- College students & recent grads: Together We Rise is looking for social media and marketing interns – get college credit and help the organization that is changing the way kids experience the foster system.
Got too much stuff?
- If you have an old car lying around MARE has a car donation program to fund family recruitment for foster kids like David.
- Host a book drive or clear off cluttered shelves of books, DVDs, CDs and videogames – donate them to More Than Words to support homeless youth and kids in foster care who run this amazing bookstore.
Are you a creative thinker?
How can your unique career skills or hobbies – the ones that are fun and easy for you – help kids in your community? When you think of something, let me know or leave a comment and I’ll add it to this list!