Guest post by Rich Hayes, a foster parent and advisory council member for Eckerd’s 8th Annual Jingle Jangle Jam.
After hearing a sermon on James 1:27 in the summer of 2008, Lisa and I prayed and considered ways that we could really live out that kind of love. We researched foster care programs and decided to be trained and licensed through Eckerd as foster parents. Since we already had a full house with two growing sons, 10 and 14, we believed that we would provide short-term foster care for a child or two from time-to-time. In January 2009, our first foster child arrived. He was two-years old and had already endured a lifetime of trauma. Thankfully, we were able to adopt him in November 2011. Today he is eight years old and full of life, hope and purpose.
Over the past nearly seven years, we have had the joy of caring for over 45 boys and girls ranging in age from 3 days old to 17. Sometimes the children just need a safe place for a night or two and sometimes several years. We have had the incredible joy of working with biological parents, case managers, guardian ad litems, attorneys, judges, child protection officers, educators and therapists. It truly takes a community to give a child a second chance. Eckerd stands in the gap and works diligently to provide that second chance to the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods, children.
Two years ago, we sold our house of 15 years in an effort to foster more children, more effectively. God provided us with a much larger home with more bedrooms and space to keep siblings together. In the years to come, we look forward to continuing our relationship with Eckerd as we foster children and advocate for their best interests.
In Tampa Bay alone there are approximately 6,000 children in foster care. Every child deserves to know and feel love, and that’s where you can make a difference. As a foster parent, you can give a child the love and security they need. If you are interested in fostering, please visit www.eckerd.org/foster to learn more about how to become a foster parent with Eckerd.