FOSTERING HOPE

    “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18: 4-5

    A little more than three years ago, a lunch was scheduled after the 11 a.m. worship service at First Baptist Church. The purpose? It was for those who were interested in foster care and adoption.


    “I told David that I don’t know why I feel like I have to go, but I’m going,” Sydney Rieff said. “I told him that he didn’t have to come with me, but he’s been there from the beginning with me.”


    A seed was planted that Sunday in November 2015 for Sydney and her husband, David Rieff. There had to be something – something impactful – they could do in the

    critical area of foster families.


    “At first I seemed like I was out of my element,” Sydney said, “because we didn’t think we could be foster parents or adopt. But that is so untrue. There are things you can do.”


    On Memorial Day weekend 2016, a half-year later, Fostering Hope began. It is a ministry that Sydney started that supports and helps foster families.


    Think of this analogy: if foster families are an athletic team, then Fostering Hope is the booster club. It seeks to meet needs, provide tangible support and let foster parents know

    they have an advocate.


    “Nobody does exactly what we do,” Sydney said. “We can pretty much fill any basic need when a new foster child comes into a home.”


    Fostering Hope partners with as many as a dozen foster/adoption agencies in the Amarillo/Canyon area. When agencies place children in a foster home,

    Fostering Hope comes aboard to address any daily needs.


    “They are so good about responding quickly,” said Tanya Park, executive director for A World For Children, an agency which has 55 foster children in 50 families in the region that is from south of Lubbock to the top of the Texas Panhandle.


    “They are a huge blessing for families because it can be so chaotic when a child comes into a home.”


    One of the first needs Fostering Hope meets is providing clothes from an amply donated clothing closet. That alone makes a difference, but far from the only help.


    Bedding is available, as are diapers, toys and books, all of them donated by those in the community. Furniture is provided. David has become skilled in setting up bunk beds for those families who suddenly can use them.


    This past year meals were provided during those hectic early times. “If there is a new foster placement, some have special needs or need to go to the doctor that very day, so foster parents spend a lot of time running around from here to there, and having a meal waiting for them is a huge deal,” Sydney said.


    Being able to respond to needs quickly is the key. The relay of a foster child from Child Protective Services to a fostering agency to foster parents often happens suddenly.


    “So foster parents have no idea when they may get a call, and sometimes they are taking care of kids they were not quite prepared for,” Park said. “If a foster parent wants a 6-year-old, but they have an 18-month-old sibling, the foster parent might take both and not be ready for the 18-month-old. We just call Fostering Hope, and they will have the necessary supplies.”


    Christmas 2018 was the second year for Fostering Hope to partner with Buckner for a Christmas party for those ages 18 to 25 who weren’t adopted. Many went from foster home to foster home and are now on their own.


    Gifts often come from First Baptist Church’s Angel Tree. Fostering Hope provides the meal, and the Christmas story is read.


    “Seeing them unwrap gifts is huge for me,” Sydney said. “For many of them, this is the only Christmas they will have.”


    Then there’s the box ministry for those who have aged out of the foster program and are

    taking advantage of college tuition provided by the state. Alternating with Coulter Road Baptist Church and FBC each month, Fostering Hope crams a 10-by-6 box with the things a college student needs – quarters for laundry, tea bags, pens and highlighters, Ramen noodles, stick-it notes and on and on.


    “It goes to show how much we do,” Sydney said. While Fostering Hope had its beginnings at FBC, and a majority of the approximately 80 volunteers are from the church, Rieff emphasized that Fostering Hope welcomes community-wide participation.


    For the Rieffs, and for others who volunteer time and donate supplies to Fostering Hope, the ministry has deep meaning because of what is at stake.


    “No one wants to hear the dirty details of what goes on out there,” Sydney said. “Even in a broad brush, there’s so much neglect, so much drug abuse, so much hunger and everything that goes along with that.


    “We’d be horrified if we knew what went on next door. There are so many needs out there, and my heart is broken daily. These children have not been loved, much less taught about Jesus. We can’t immediately meet all their needs, but there are things that we can do to show Jesus’ love.”

    If you’re interested in volunteering

    with Fostering Hope or learning

    how to be involved, email

    fosteringhopeamarillo@gmail.com


    Written by: Jon Mark Beilue

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