The Power Of Community

by Holly Burk

Every now and then, projects come along where passion and purpose collide to create something pretty special. Add to that the power of a community stepping in to meet a need, and you have a shining example of what’s possible when we all work together to bridge a gap. 

Foster Village recently had the profound privilege of partnering with Graceful Spaces Organizing to create a teen resource room at the Travis County Civil and Family Courts Facility. 

As part of the Child Welfare Re-Imagined Pilot, conversations with the Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones and the Honorable Leigh Mathews Rodriguez revealed that a need they frequently heard from the teens on their dockets was for hygiene products. For context, many teens in foster care experience multiple placement moves and frequent instability. 

In child welfare, there are often big, complex needs filled with many moments of powerlessness and very few quick fixes.  As caregivers and those supporting youth intersecting with the child welfare system, there is often so much that is outside of our control. But ensuring that our county’s teens experiencing foster care have access to hygiene products—that’s within our control. Under the vision and leadership of these judges, this community was entrusted to step into that need. 

It’s often said that not everyone can (or should) foster, but “everyone can do something.”  One of the reasons I loved this project was that it was such a tangible expression of that “something”—everyone giving of their time, talent, and treasure to collectively create something meaningful, impactful, and beautiful. 

From the moment we began dreaming up what this resource room could be, we reached out to our partners at Graceful Spaces to help us do it well. It felt like a project that was the ultimate embodiment of both of our missions. They jumped right in and as always, blew us away with their attention to detail and generosity every step of the way. They elevated this space to feel like a boutique shopping experience from the moment a teen walks in. 

Nothing in this room was an afterthought; it was specially curated, down to every acrylic bin, the beautiful custom labels, and the “never forget how wildly capable you are” decal on the wall—a hopeful reminder even when the days feel bleak. 

Recently, our board member, Dionne Schaffner, was at court in her role as a CASA volunteer for a teen and we loved hearing, “My CASA teen was just in the resource room at court on Friday and was thrilled to find some edge control.”

This resource room is an extension of the heartbeat behind our EQUIP pillar. What was once a blank room is now a room filled with resources - hopefully communicating to teens experiencing foster care that they are not alone. It was a testimony to what is possible when the courts, non-profits, businesses, and individuals all partner together to make a difference. 

If you’d like to support this project, there will be a continued need for donations to keep the shelves well-stocked. Individuals, families, churches, businesses - wanna jump in

I leave you with this quote that I was recently introduced to and was so moved by: 

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” 

- Margaret J. Wheatley

May we discover and then be encouraged to take action in the things we care about. When you see a need and have the power to step into that need, step in. This resource room for teens is just one example. But, it begs the question of what other gaps might be filled when we show up for each other. 

What is your project where passion and purpose collide? 

(And speaking of community - it was extra special that the video highlight was completed by foster/adoptive dad Jon Vineyard, of Porch Light Productions.)