Updated: May 9
The tagline above was one of the expressions cited often by Theresa Toia, Director and Founder of Friends of Foster Kids (FOFK), during my visit at her store in Sterling Heights, Michigan, this week. Theresa along with many dedicated volunteers and donors have been diligently changing lives of foster kids of all ages since the organization’s first days of operation in 2007. It is a great testament of all the love and compassion provided by this wonderful organization that is fulfilling a harsh void many kids in foster care experience every day.
I would like to thank my friend Reverend Kate Thoresen whose leadership with the Faith Communities Coalition is instrumental in connecting good hearted folks who want to help foster children in all capacities. She is an inspiration. I hope Kate doesn’t mind this next compliment about her commitment. Last Friday my friend Sam Misuraca, co-founder of Building Beds 4 Kids, put together a lunch with Kate at a local restaurant. The three of us were chatting about this and that and Sam indicated he was unable to connect with Theresa of Friends of Foster Kids about an idea he had. Quickly, before I could say “magic,” Kate whips out her cell phone, calls Theresa and sets up a time for us to meet her at the store. Now that is connecting and getting things done for a worthy cause. Love her passion.
One of the reasons Kate is passionate about Friends of Foster Kids is that she has watched it grow and seen it help so many foster kids experience a real Christmas. Theresa told me that during the first year of the Christmas gift program, while working out of her basement, she was able to provide gifts for 47 foster kids. Last year, with the help of 1300 volunteers in December, FOFK provided 1369 kids with specific Christmas wish list items. (Please check out the photos below from the website during the Christmas rush.)
This time of year, Theresa and FOFK are extremely busy setting up for graduating students who, at the age of 20, are aging out of the foster care system. This is often a really difficult time for older foster kids and FOFK works diligently with the health and human services professionals in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties to provide necessary items for these students, preparing them for independent living or getting them ready for community college experience.
Hopefully, you are getting the feeling that this organization is becoming a necessary part of helping these kids experience a better life. It is not easy for them and as Theresa explained, most are just trying to get through one day without fear and the strife of not having a family structure to support them.
One way we can help right now is by donating to FOFK to provide funds for Theresa and her team to gather the wish list items requested by these graduating students. Please check out the entire website for more information about their programs and how you can donate and volunteer.
A fun way to contribute and get some exercise at the same time is to participate in their upcoming golf outing on Friday, June 10, at Greystone Golf Club in Washington, Michigan. Please check out the golf banner below for details and how to sign up for one of the many levels of participation. Note the deadline to sign-up is coming up on May 13.
I hope to introduce Theresa to the 3rd Act community next fall with a podcast as she gets ready for the fall campaign and Christmas gift program. Looking forward to that conversation and seeing the store busy with 100 volunteers gathering and wrapping gifts for foster kids.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Roger N. Steed