How did you get connected to Foster Village?
A few years ago, I joined a Facebook group called "Community Helping Hands Austin, TX" which is an online group that posts about all Austin non-profit organizations that need community help. When the Foster Village north location was getting ready to open, Community Helping Hands posted about some of the things the new location needed to get up and running. I donated, and in the process of doing so, learned more about Foster Village and the new resource center they were opening.
What does a typical volunteer day look like to you?
One of the things I love about volunteering at Foster Village is that every day is different. Most days are spent unpacking and organizing donations and restocking the resource center, but there really is no typical day. I've packed welcome packs, put together baby equipment, weeded the garden and even delivered donations to foster homes, and gone on a couple of mega shopping trips to help restock the resource center! Part of the fun of volunteering is that there are new needs every day and you get to serve in many different capacities.
Why did you decide to jump in at Foster Village?
I stopped working in early 2020 and then the pandemic hit. By the Fall of 2020, my 3 kids were finally back in school and after spending so many months in isolation, I was in desperate need of community. I wanted to find an opportunity to give back locally. I remembered Foster Village and decided to contact them. After meeting with Holly and spending my first day there, I was hooked. Not only do I feel like I'm contributing in a meaningful way, I love every single person I have met and worked with at Foster Village.
What is a moment or story that has stuck out to you while volunteering?
There are lots of moments that have stuck with me over the years. I've witnessed a biological mom and foster mom meet regularly at the center as they worked together to reunite the biological mom with her children permanently. I've delivered welcome packs to new foster families that just received their first placement. The excitement on their faces was priceless. I've watched grandparents come to the resource center to help provide for their grandchildren that were unexpectedly placed in their custody. One thing I don't think I realized before coming to Foster Village was the support they give to not only foster families but also to kinship families. It really is a "village" that lifts and supports these families.
What is one piece of encouragement you’d give to individuals and families thinking about volunteering?
There are so many different capacities in which you can serve that my advice would be to read about all of the opportunities and just try one! In the beginning, I thought I would be doing more on-call/deliveries but I enjoyed working at the resource center so much that I have stuck with that for the last 3 years! I think there's a little something for everyone.
What are you learning by volunteering and being connected at Foster Village?
I've definitely learned more about the foster care system in general, and the needs of current foster families. It's also been incredibly inspiring to see the amount of love and support this village provides to one another.
What else would you like us to know?
From my first day at Foster Village, I immediately felt like a part of the community. My time and input have always been valued and time flies when I'm volunteering because there is never a shortage of things to do and I love the people I work with. I've even been able to recruit my son's service organization to be a part of the community so he and I could serve together! It's been an awesome experience and I'm thankful to have found Foster Village!