On Saturday, May 6, SaintA hosted its 2nd Annual Call to Action Day, a celebration of foster parents and a chance for families to recommit themselves to the calling. In attendance were foster families and children, along with friends and family interested in becoming foster parents.Guests of honor included Marjorie and Marshall Barlow, who recently retired as foster parents after caring for 300 children, including 60 sibling groups. Community Engagement (CE) Specialist Stephanie Allen shared the Barlow’s caregiving highlights. The Barlows were then presented with a gift to commemorate all they’ve done for Milwaukee children.
Other special guests included a panel from the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council (WI YAC). Former foster youth DJ, Jameelah and Justin shared their candid experiences in and out of foster care and their advice for fostering older children and teens into adulthood.
Gratitude for Foster Parents
The Grow Hope CE team applauded the foster parents in attendance as well those who couldn’t attend. They acknowledged how foster parents work day in and day out to care for foster children in a way that’s trauma informed – and as if they were their own.
“Today, we want to celebrate the appreciation we have for you and that you have for each other,” said CE Specialist Thomas Ecks. “We are giving you time to rediscover your ‘why’ and share it with others.”Foster parents in attendance ranged from 20-somethings to grandparents; there were new and seasoned parents; and caregivers of infants all the way to those caring for teens. The one thing they have in common is that they have all answered the call to care for some of our state’s most vulnerable children.
As Ecks emphasized in his opening remarks, “The need is great. The rewards are greater.”
Call to Action: Every Child Deserves a Champion
SaintA currently has 89 open placement requests, a reflection of a recent increase in the number of children in out of home care. In addition, there are 143 youth living in group homes. Right now, 69% of kids are entering care as part of a sibling group.
“As foster parents, you are some of our best and most effective recruiters of new foster parents,” said Michelle Keller, CE Specialist. “So please, continue to share your stories of foster care’s challenges and successes with others.”
Keller then led the group through the Call to Action, a commitment to caring for foster children throughout Wisconsin who need safe, loving homes. “Every child deserves a champion,” she said.