Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrating service

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?"

Monday is the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it's also a day when we come together to try and answer that question through service in our neighborhoods, our communities and our cities.

There are a lot of great ways to give back across the country, and if you have some time to lend a hand, here's a great place to get started.

I think about that question, and I think about the ways our foster and adoptive parents have answered it. We asked a simple question last year when we launched our "I Did It" campaign. The question we posed to families was "Why did you become a foster parent?" Here's what they wrote back.

"I did it because I saw a huge need in our community, and I wanted to be part of the solution."

"I did it because these children are our future and if we can make a difference in even one child's life then maybe we can make the future better." 

"I did it to help families keep their family together."

"I did it because I wanted to keep siblings together."

"I did it because there is always room for one more person at your table."

"I did it because their birth mother asked for help."

"I did it to help give a child a good, solid start toward adulthood. So many children don't get that."

"We did it because it is not their fault that sometimes there are bump in the road."

"I did it because I am thankful for what our family has."

The list goes on and on. There are a lot of different reasons, but they all capture the spirit of Dr. King's question—What are you doing for others? 

Thanks to all of our foster parents, adoptive parents and community partners who work with youth for choosing to answer that question in such a profound and life-changing way.

Do you have a MLK Day of Service project happening near you? Let us know how it goes!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

5 New Year's resolutions to consider

Maybe you've already made some New Year's resolutions this year (or broken a few!). Either way, we have a few simple suggestions to add to your list. :)

1. Encourage one person this year to consider foster care. Is there a family in your neighborhood or church who you have always thought would make great foster parents? Tell them! Share how great you think they are with kids, and ask them if they've ever considered it. Many people have become foster or adoptive parents simply because someone asked them. And regardless of whether they end up pursuing more information, that kind of compliment is very meaningful.

2. Take a new kind of training class. If you are a current foster or adoptive parent, consider stepping out of your comfort zone with a new training class this year. For example, maybe you've never fostered teens, but have been thinking about it for awhile. A teen-focused training would be a great way to explore the idea and ask questions.

3. Thank a social worker. Social workers have a tough and sometimes thankless job. How about brightening someone's day with a simple card thanking them for choosing this field and for the difficult work they do for kids and families?

4. Write your legislator. Handwritten letters can make a big impact on legislators, who get countless emails and form letters. Tell your legislator that you hope he or she will support initiatives this year that benefit kids and families and provide support for youth in foster care. IFAPA has some great resources posted about legislative issues involving foster care and adoption in Iowa.

5. Be a friend. If you really want to do something special this year, consider getting involved as a mentor or permanency partner with a teen in foster care or a young adult who has recently aged out of the system. Even simple support, like sharing life advice on getting a car loan or renting an apartment or just being there to listen when someone needs to talk, can make a big difference. Check out some great ideas from Foster Club. You can also connect with Iowa youth in care through Elevate.

Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year? Let us know how it's going!