Marilyn and Chuck Mraz are members of Simpsonwood UMC and share how they have found great support from Simpsonwood UMC as they open their home to foster children. 

Chuck and Marilyn Mraz

My husband and I have only been fostering for three years.  The fostering world is certainly different from anything we have ever done and is, unequivocally, the most rewarding.

One of the many things I’ve learned is that it is very hard for foster parents to ask for help, and I can tell you there were many, many, many times that I could have, should have, held my hand up and said, “I NEED HELP.” 

I am so grateful that the United Methodist Children’s Home has informed us of and guided us through tapping into the resources we have at hand… our fellow church members!  There are so many people who can’t foster themselves but love to help, be it by providing meals, shopping for the family when a new foster child arrives, babysitting, taking the children to appointments, or simply praying, just to name a few.

At Simpsonwood UMC we had our first meeting led by the Care Connection Team at UMCH last fall.  We first recruited a person to be the point person to organize the foster family’s needs; then we needed to identify volunteers and identify how these volunteers would be able to help.  The response was incredible.

We had families sign up to provide clothing items for children when they are first brought into care, others signed up to bring meals when needed or to provide transportation to school activities or other appointments, and another group signed up to go through the approval process to babysit.  Each family that signed up for a specific task also signed up to offer prayers for the foster family and the children brought into their homes.

For me personally, I could never put a price tag on how valuable it is to have a resource for babysitting.  The families that offered to babysit went through orientation, background checks, and fingerprinting to become approved babysitters.  This means that I have much more flexibility in making doctor and dentist appointments, getting a haircut, and all the other things that make having “little people” in tow a bit cumbersome to say the least!

I have learned to never underestimate the power and support of my church family.   I recently read an article about how church members can support foster families.  The opportunities to serve these kids and the families who care for them are endless.  They gave a simple script that we hope to adopt at Simpsonwood.  “At Simpsonwood United Methodist Church, some of us are going to bring children into our homes; the rest of us are going to find ways to serve and support them!”

Chuck with two foster children, feeding the ducks

At Simpsonwood we have had seven families foster through the United Methodist Children’s Home; two have relocated and are still fostering and two more families are in the process of becoming commissioned.  God has richly blessed our church, not only with the foster families but all the families who serve as support.  The Care Connection Team at UMCH introduced us to this concept and continue to offer support.

A coalition of churches in our area has been established, not only to spread the word regarding the need for foster homes, but to educate churches and their members about the need to support the families who foster.  In order to accomplish this we need churches working together to make sure that each and every child who enters into the foster care system has a loving family to live with and a caring church family to support the needs of the foster family – it truly does take a village!

*If you are interested in foster care, or supporting foster care please contact Brett Hillashiem
*To support foster families at Simpsonwood UMC, please contact the Care Coordinator for Simpsonwood: Lisa Hines

Save the Date: On Sunday, October 15 we will be collecting a special offering for the United Methodist Children’s Home.