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Help For Children Displaced by Hurricane Harvey

In the days following the devastation that our state experienced due to the massive Hurricane Harvey, we put out a simple call to action to help our neighbors. What started as a simple Amazon wish list of basic necessities for these children and families, turned into a mountain of generosity from around the world. Thousands of items were purchased from that wish list. Truckload after truckload of beds, car seats, socks, gift cards, underpants, diapers, and other resources poured in with thoughtful notes of encouragement from near and far, including Qatar, Italy, and Denmark!

We had the privilege of delivering these desperately needed items to DFPS offices and directly to several foster and kinship families who lost everything.  Dozens of volunteers stepped up to help us sort, haul, and distribute. 

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These unsung UPS heroes made sure every package got to us as quickly as possible, even renting a moving truck to bring a couple of the loads. This is just one of those deliveries!

These unsung UPS heroes made sure every package got to us as quickly as possible, even renting a moving truck to bring a couple of the loads. This is just one of those deliveries!

And the high-quality children's clothing line, Tea Collection, donated 26 large boxes of their brand new clothes toward our efforts. Children who lost everything will now have wonderful, long lasting clothes thanks to this awesome business who stepped up to give back to the community. 

And the high-quality children's clothing line, Tea Collection, donated 26 large boxes of their brand new clothes toward our efforts. Children who lost everything will now have wonderful, long lasting clothes thanks to this awesome business who stepped up to give back to the community. 

We have been so moved and encouraged by what this community was able to accomplish in such a short time. It gives us tremendous hope for our children in crisis knowing that there is a village standing by, ready to fill the needs!

Thank you again to everyone who contributed donations and their time toward this effort!

If you are a foster family who was impacted by the hurricane and you are in need of basic necessities, please contact us at info@fostervillageaustin.org

Foster Parent's Night Out!

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Foster parents, we know how hard it can be to secure approved childcare for your little ones. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Austin Ridge Bible Church in Southwest Austin to provide free childcare opportunities throughout the year. 

Our next Foster Parent's Night Out is scheduled for September 16th from 5pm-8pm. Space will be limited, so be sure to sign up early! Dinner and activities will be provided for all of the kiddos. 

VOLUNTEERS, we would love for you to join us for this event! There is a link to sign-up for you as well. Background checks will be required. 

 

Please email us at info@fostervillageaustin.org with any questions!

Wise Words from one of our seasoned foster mamas...

One of the sweet foster families who we have had the privilege of walking alongside shared these thoughts with us to pass along to new foster families stepping into the uncertain world of foster care. Simple and important thoughts to keep in mind based on this family's experience while fostering. We can all learn something from those who walked before us.

 

'What I wish I knew before fostering…..

 

When my husband and I felt God calling us to adopt or foster, we were really excited. A new child! We were excited to be a part of God’s plan. Fast forward to day two of our emergency placement. Okay, the first 5 hours. “Next time God calls, don’t answer.” Really. We knew going into it that it would be hard, but we didn't know it would be THIS HARD. I mean, we'd had training, home visits, medical tests, fingerprints—we couldn't be more prepared, could we? Actually, no.  And yes. People prepare for their first child, and then discover there's a lot you can't prepare for—just like fostering.  Some of it is truly on the job training. Below is my “wish I would’ve known” list.

 

  • Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help. The foster agency, CASA, child’s attorney, and CPS are all available to help along the journey. ASK.

 

  • You handle what you can handle. The agency will ask if you can handle a lot of different types of children. Be honest. It's not a popularity contest—tell them what you can really handle. Of course they'd love for you to take on 5 kids with special needs, but if you can help one child in “basic care”--that's one child who is safe. God doesn’t need you to save all the children, he needs you to help with the child or children He's chosen for YOU.

 

  • Document Everything. Use the “notes” app for ease.

 

  • God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I’m borrowing that line from our pastor (thanks Brad!), bears repeating.  Daily.

 

  • Therapy is vital for your foster child. It not only makes a difference for them—it helps your bio family. If your child receives Medicaid, the foster parent is allowed to see the child's therapist under that insurance. This can be a life changing resource to learn more about your child, and help your family.

 

  • Strong marriage required. CAUTION. Challenges ahead.

 

  • Foster your bio family. Whatever you give to your family won't be enough. Ouch. Sorry, but it won't. And no matter how many times you tell your bio kids you love them and you're working hard to make things better, it’s still hard.

 

  • Smell test? You know how your mom could smell the truth? So can you! If someone tells you something that isn't right—question it. (Yes, you're allowed to question authority.)

 

  • Give yourself a break. This is hard. Really hard.

 

  • God chose you for this ministry for a reason. Whether you foster one child, help with respite care or foster many children. HE has the plan.'

Thank you for these wise words, Kimberly!

 

Parent's Night Out!

Calling all foster parents!

We know how hard it can be to arrange childcare when it comes to the process involved in getting approved babysitters for kids in foster care. So we've partnered with Austin Ridge Bible Church Southwest to give you a night off on April 29th. Space is limited so reserve your spots now. Siblings are welcome to join us!

Fiesta Fundraiser Success!

Last weekend we were humbled and encouraged to have over 100 guests gather to show their support for Foster Village and the families we aim to serve. We enjoyed a Fiesta-Valentine theme with Verde's Mexican Parrilla taco bar, mariachi by Mariachi Amor, a fun photo booth and cupcake bar by Cupcake Social, and several amazing raffle baskets full of awesome prizes donated by local businesses and artisans.

We were able to hear a first-hand experience from a local foster family who Foster Village has had the privilege of wrapping around, as well hear from another former foster family who struggled without the kind of community support we work toward creating. Several foster parents were able to join us through donated tickets by the community (thank you!) and we saw a beautiful mingling of foster parents and compassionate community members with a desire to do their part in being the change needed in our current foster system crisis.

Our goal for the evening was to raise awareness and hopefully raise needed funds for our Welcome Pack and Project SOOTHe programs. We were blown away by the generosity and willingness to fill the gaps for these children and families. Over $10,000 was raised that night, including a year of monthly commitments that many folks stepped up for! We are so excited to put these funds to work for our local children and families in the trenches of foster care.

So far this year, we are receiving at least 5-10 requests weekly for basic necessities for children entering foster care. We are also seeing an increase in awareness and requests for therapeutic items like weighted blankets and infant carriers. It will take a village of resources to meet all of these needs and we are extraordinarily grateful to all of you willing to join us in this effort!

Lastly, this is a bit of Dena Dupuie's story that she shared with us at the event. She and her husband own Hope Realty Texas and are so passionate about our mission that they generously stepped up to sponsor the evening. They've also offered to donate 10% of their commission on homes sold through Foster Village referrals, so keep them in mind if you're in need of realtors with a heart in the Austin area. We are so grateful for their partnership and commitment to our cause...

Our foster journey began in 2008 when our now adopted daughter, Brianna, arrived on our doorstep at the tender age of 14 months. Brianna had suffered a traumatic brain injury from being violently shaken. Little did we know that our future path would be to take in special needs children. While being a foster parent is very rewarding it is also complicated and difficult. One year we took in an emergency placement for a 12 month old who had Reactive Attachment Disorder, a heartbreaking and challenging condition that is especially challenging as a caretaker. He arrived with nothing in his possession. No clothes, food, or toys. We only had a 1 hour notice that he was coming. It was a chaotic transition and it took at least a week for us to get the essentials. We would have been so blessed to have Foster Village on our team back then.
If we had had Foster Village to wrap their arms around us and provide therapeutic support we would have been better equipped to help our special needs foster child. The services Foster Village provides are essential and they are a total blessing to those who care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
— Dena Dupuie

Photo Credit: Cesar E. Lopez Linares (University of Texas Journalism)

This event would not have been possible without the help and generosity of so many. Here are some of the awesome local businesses and individuals who made our event such a success:

Wanderin' Star Farms, The Piazza Center, Epicure, Locomotion Inflatable Play, Dripping Springs Chocolate Company, Blushing Belle Beauty Bar, Private Chef Crystal Reinwald, Austin Dental Care, Hope Realty Texas, LockTite Storage, Avrey Grace Boutique, Austin Apothecary, Farrar Lindler, Cupcake Social Events, Mariachi Amore, Verdes Mexican Parilla, Barrett & Richelle Criswell, Level 2 Promotions, Trey Powers, The Violet Room Austin, Austin Wood & Metal, Art by Meena Motocha, Megan Wilky, Happy Home Austin, and The House of Austin. 

If you were not able to make it to the event but you have a desire to join our mission to bring support and resources to our local children and families in the child welfare system, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@fostervillageaustin.org for information on our monthly partnership program.

Valentine Fiesta Fundraiser

Taco 'bout a fun night!
Grab your valentine and amigos and join us for a private party event at Verde's Mexican Parrilla!
Tickets include access to an all-inclusive taco bar and 2 drink tickets (margaritas, beer, wine, and soft drinks), mariachi entertainment, and a 'kissing booth' for a photo keepsake with your Valentine. We'll also be raffling off some unbeatable raffle baskets- stayed tuned for sneak peeks!
Space is limited, so get your tickets early. Guests must be over 21.
All proceeds go toward meeting the needs of local foster families and at-risk children in our community.

Tickets can be purchased on our Facebook page! Link below.

A Season for Giving

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of a supportive and generous Village danced in their heads ...

Thanks to the generosity of this amazing village, we were able to sponsor every wish list item for boys living in a local group home this Christmas! We've also delivered warm coats, clothes, beds, toys, furniture, a Christmas tree, Welcome Packs, and other necessities to over 100 children this year. All because this village of folks (y'all!) have stepped up to give and volunteer your time and resources. What a gift it is to do this with you all!
If you are still looking for opportunities to give to children in need this season, we've created an Amazon Wish List for children in kinship care. Kinship care is when family members or friends step in as foster parents. The major difference is that these families do not receive any financial support from the state like a traditional foster family does. Often times these families will take in entire sets of siblings and have to suddenly figure out how to stretch their household budget to cover all of the additional expenses. 
Foster Village has had the privilege of coming alongside some of these kinship families and we hope to rally some support and encouragement for them this holiday season. 
We have made up a list of Wish List Items that we collected from these kiddos and siblings in the home. Feel free to pick anything from this list (linked below and on our Facebook page) and it will be wrapped and delivered to that child!
And if you're local and interested in giving the gift of service, we'd love to have you join us for a wrapping party on December 17th. We'll be wrapping and sorting dozens of wish list gifts, so bring along a roll of wrapping paper, your favorite scissors, and any little elves who'd like to help! The sign-up for the wrapping party is here (space will be limited). 
If you want to do both- purchase off of the Wish List + come to the wrapping party, then feel free to ship the items to your home and bring them along to the wrapping party.

Loads of Welcome Packs ready to go... and a cute little helper. 

Loads of Welcome Packs ready to go... and a cute little helper. 

We are so very grateful for this community and how very engaged and generous you all have been! The families and children we are serving have been overwhelmingly grateful for all of the donations and support as well. Keep up the great work, Village! 

Warm Hugs and Hot Cocoa,
Chrystal Smith
Founder/Executive Director

Fallin' For Foster Families 2016

On November 13th we had the privilege of partnering with Wandrin' Star Farms to create a fun-filled evening at the farm for some deserving families brought together through foster care. One of the amazing foster mamas who attended so eloquently shared her family's experience at the event...

With a van full of children, we drove over country roads past cattle and fields of oaks to Wandrin’ Star Farms. Though we’d never been, it felt a little like going home. I think it was because the village gathering to visit and break bread on that balmy Sunday eve in the middle of November was one that we intrinsically, seamlessly identified with.

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Foster Village Austin’s Fall Festival celebrating Foster Families in the Austin area created a high fun and low stress space that allowed kids to be kids and parents to relax a bit. In the gaga ball pit a group of contenders fought hard for the win. The game itself would be enough to cause me to stop and watch (I’d never seen it played before), but it was the picture of it all that halted me. Who belonged with whom? I looked at the faces, features, and skin tones trying to match up siblings and parents. After a quick second, what I was looking at settled on me like an embrace- I couldn’t tell. In this place, in this sacred space we were invited into, the substance that links families together transcends what’s perceivable with my eyes. The thing that binds is courageous love and a decision to step into a place of brokenness so that others may begin to heal.

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As I made my way over to the petting area where my girls were conspiring to smuggle a bunny home, I stopped at the baby chicks where children were clumsily loving on those little birds. Their small hands so tender and willing to demonstrate their affection to these wee creatures juxtaposed in my mind with the knowledge that tender hands may not have been so available to them.

After a quick and definitive conversation with my kids about how a rabbit absolutely wouldn’t be joining our family anytime in the near future, I went to find Mike who was crafting with our small son while talking with fellow foster parents and their children. The conversation was easy and the mood was mellow as they slowly added beads to their creation. I walked away thinking about how peaceful the atmosphere was.

While I adjusted our six and a half month old foster daughter who was hanging out in her favorite spot- her baby carrier, I drank in the view. There were little ones on a barrel train being pulled by a tractor, its driver’s copper hair shining in the light of the golden hour. Groups of adults organically pulled together by the stories they share, so similar and so different. Woven in-between tales of toddler tantrums or recollections of ‘the early days’ are words like, ‘agency’, ‘guardian ad litem’, ‘CPA’, and ‘permanency goals’. Missing was the pause that usually follows to explain the terms. We all knew. And in the knowing found community. No two cases are ever the same, but the similarities that are threaded through- the victories and the battles yet won, the baby steps forward and the bridges we build- tie us all into the same colorful afghan.

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There were moms and dads with biological children and children adopted, a sweet couple anxiously awaiting their first placement, a family made up of two superhero moms with a sibling group of 5, families whose children had grown up, another family with 4 kids who are helping to equip a young woman aging out to be successful and anchor herself. Families just beginning to dip their toes in and families like my own; deep in the trenches of the unknown clinging to the stories of those who have swam this channel before.

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On the ride home I glanced back at our tribe of tired children and whispered my thanks that we could be counted among such an extraordinary group. A village sanctified by hard things and hopeful hearts. There’s a spot in Central Texas where s’mores crumbs fall into the footprints of happy kids. It’s a place I went to meet some new folks and let my kids run around, but when I left I realized it was hallowed ground.  

~Amanda Moore

{you can follow the Moore Family's foster journey by heading over to www.mikeandmandymoore.com}

We are so grateful for all of the volunteers and businesses who made this event possible! What a beautiful example of being a Village. We are already looking forward to doing it again next year! 

Shopping for a Cause

Whether you're getting a head start on your holiday shopping or just a fan of supporting amazing small businesses and good causes... we have some awesome opportunities to share!

We are so excited to be partnering with three awesome small businesses run by moms with a passion for giving back. Each of these amazing businesses are currently offering special custom made products or services that will not only benefit the buyer but also the children and families that Foster Village serves. 

Please take a look at each of these limited time offers from some businesses you need to know about...

At Farmgirl Paints Etsy shop you will find amazing one-of-kind leather cuff bracelets, made from up-cycled belts and customized with hand stamped words of your choice. I have been a huge fan of this shop for years and these cuffs are by far my favorite and most complimented accessory. And through October 16, Farmgirl Paints will be donating a portion of their sales to Foster Village! This is a win-win, friends. And they're currently offering 15% off using code "chrystal15". The shop will be closing for the rest of this year on October 16th, so this is a great time to get that jump start on your holiday shopping! Check out their Etsy page to see all of the design options. 

I first fell in love with Alpine Baby Co. when our daughter was still toddling around and Chelsi sent us some of the cutest, comfiest little leggings that I'd ever seen. They are a business that strives to create sustainable, ethical clothing to the new babes and mini-adventurers in life. All of their clothing is handmade with American made materials. High quality, comfort, and style... the trifecta! Through October 12th, Alpine baby Co. is having a 'Get One, Give One' sale and Foster Village is the lucky recipient! They've designed an exclusive "it takes a village" legging for children and with every sale, Alpine Baby Co. will donate another pair for Foster Village to include in our Welcome Packs for children in foster care. This is a great opportunity to support an awesome business and give back to the community at the same time! Order through their website before the sale ends on October 12th!

And after checking those things off your shopping list, here's a great opportunity to get your holiday family photos squared away too...  Tricia Dunlap is a talented Austin area photographer and she has a huge heart for the mission of Foster Village. She approached us with the idea of "People in Pajamas", a fun and creative way to capture families in their comfort zone without the stress and bribery required in typical family photo shoots. And the best part is, with every "People in Pajamas" photo shoot booked with her, she's donating $50 to Foster Village to purchase new pajamas for children entering foster care. You would not believe how excited these precious kids get about new pajamas! Your family gets fun, no-stress photos together in the comfort of your own home, and children coming from hard places will be blessed with cozy new jammies of their very own. Tricia is offering these 20 minute sessions for $250 ($50 goes straight to Foster Village!) and it will include 10 edited digital files within two weeks of your session. What a fun and smart way to mix it up with holiday photos!  Check out Tricia's website for more details. 

We are so very thankful and inspired by these small business with a desire to give back! Let's show them our support, Village!