Adoption and American Ninja Warrior Contestant

By Jordan Upton

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Season 10, episode 8 of American Ninja Warrior aired on July 23, 2018. The Dallas City Finals showcased contestant Katrina Ratcliff, a police officer from Austin, Texas.

In a heartbreaking video about her background, Kat tells the story of losing her father to pancreatic cancer when she was eight years old, and the troubled years with her mom that followed. Her mother had alcohol and drug dependencies and committed suicide when Kat was 15 years old.

When she was 16 yrs. old, Kat met Ellen. They were both working at their small town’s veterinary clinic when Ellen adopted Kat.

“I just felt like she needed somebody, and I felt like it should be me,” Ellen says in the video.

“She started nurturing me and loving me,” Kat says of Ellen. “And gave me the chance to believe in myself. That I was worthy enough to be loved.”

Kat and Ellen illustrate how important it is to offer opportunities to older teens who may have fewer prospects for fostering and adopting. Kat’s life was changed from the love and attention she received after being adopted at 16.

See Kat during the episode: https://www.nbc.com/american-ninja-warrior/video/dallas-city-finals/376613719:15 - 22:45

https://austinpoliceassociation.com/will-of-a-ninja/ https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/austin-police-officer-will-compete-on-american-ninja-warrior/994836140

My Reflective Experiences with AGAPE

By Jordan Upton

As the school year begins again and my summer interning with AGAPE of N.C. draws to a close, I felt it would be appropriate to reflect on my experiences working with the organization. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the privilege of working with AGAPE. Everyone involved with the organization is compassionate, helpful, knowledgeable, and each person cares about the work they do and the children they help. This is true about every staff member from the social workers such as Marilyn Bredon, to the Board of Directors members like Joe Hall, to the executive director Kim Scott.

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Not only do the staff members work tirelessly to promote the mission of AGAPE, but the volunteers, donors, and community members work just as hard and are just as passionate about helping children find loving homes. Take 11-year-old Meredith Finch, for example, who began selling lemonade in her town to raise money to donate to AGAPE. People like that are special, and they recognize that the people at AGAPE are special, too.

When I began working with AGAPE, I had not heard of them and I knew very little about adoption and foster care experiences. Now, by having spoken with those who have adopted, been adopted, and foster children themselves, I have grown a deep appreciation and respect for these people.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to get to know everyone involved with AGAPE, and for all of the people I was able to speak with who were so open and honest about their experiences, and for the chance to share their stories with the public. I only hope I was able to convey their messages and stories in a meaningful way and that they were heard and appreciated by those who read them as much as I appreciated hearing and sharing them. I am excited about the future of AGAPE and can not wait to see what the future has in store for everyone involved.

10 Reasons to Bring Your Family to the 7th Annual Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival

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#10 = MUSIC - There are seven groups performing this year! The Alison Brown Quartet; Bobby Hicks, Mark Kuykendall and Asheville Bluegrass; Tim White & Troublesome Hollow; Fireside Collective; The Snyder Family Band; The Trailblazers with Ivy Phillips; and Dwight Hawkins with Brody Hunt. The $15.00 advance ticket price is a great value, and kids under 12 are admitted free. Gates open at 10:00 AM. Opening ceremonies begin at 10:45 AM with the A Cafellas singing the Star Spangled Banner.  The music ends at 6:30 PM. 

#9 = FOR KIDS - There is an abundance of free activities for kids at the Kids’ Activities tent sponsored by AGAPE of North Carolina! The festival volunteers, called Servants, supervise children’s creative play with a variety of arts and crafts and recycled materials. A unique coloring page to save the date for next year, old-fashioned sidewalk games like marbles and jacks and free face painting are also included. 

#8 = FOOD - The festival features many delicious food options. Choices include Southern comfort foods made from scratch at the Dining Hall just behind the Front Porch Stage featuring BBQ, ribs and chicken with all the fixin's; the award-winning Gunny Smitty’s Hot Dog food truck; Carolina Shaved Ice; Baked With Love home-baked desserts; the CBC Coffee Café for hot and cold coffee beverages, and the popular CBC Canteen for the genuine camp snack experience. 

#7 = AUCTION - One-of-a-kind items are available through the exciting and easy online auction, or simply show up at the CBC Hexagazebo in person to bid on your items. The Swicegood Group, a leader in real estate and auctions, manages this activity so all goes smoothly. You can bid on a beach trip, an autographed ukulele, lunch with a patriot, an album collection, a banjo, and much much more.

#6 = SHOPPING - You can shop but don’t drop; just stop where you are! The festival’s vendors include a unique assortment of 20 vendors selling apparel, jewelry, home goods, doggie treats, soaps, artwork, and so much more. Don’t try to buy it all at once; take a break and return to your lawn chair for a musical interlude.

#5 = WEATHER - Don’t sweat the weather. The large professional grade tents will keep you shaded and covered. Historically, the weather on this date has been made to order. And, there are plenty of beverages both iced and hot to keep your body temperature feeling “just right.”

#4 = FAMILY FRIENDLY - This festival is the best family-friendly event in North Carolina. With no alcohol and no smoking, tobacco, or vaping permitted, you can feel good about bringing guests of all ages. Registered nurses staff a  First Aid tent; handicapped parking and assistance is available,  and volunteers called “Servants” work hard to make your festival experience an unforgettable one. Registered guide dogs are allowed.

#3 = PICKER'S PLACE - If you like to pick, then you will feel right at home here with a special pavilion for those folks who want to do more than just watch. Pull up a chair next to some of the best musicians in the world; you never know who you'll meet. 

#2 = ANTIQUE CAR SHOW - That's right. We have cars too! These beauties are located next to the canteen behind the main tent. They are so close to the music that you won't miss a note when you decide to go browse.

#1 = OPEN SEATING - CBC has always used first-come, first-serve, festival style seating. Since there are no assigned seats, you are free to come right down front and set up your chair. (No high-backs please!) Fortunately, there are no bad seats at CBC. All of the grounds provide good views of the stage, and the professional sound team makes sure that every note is crystal clear. 

For more details and to purchase tickets, click here: www.cbcbluegrass.com.

Higher Education for Foster Care Youth

By Jordan Upton

Research has shown that youth in foster care are less likely to continue on to college compared to other high school graduates. Of those who do enroll in college, many do not make it through to obtain a degree.

In efforts to help boost student success, programs such as NC Reach have been established. NC Reach is a state-funded scholarship offered to qualified applicants for up to 4 years of undergraduate study at any of the 74 NC public colleges and universities. Qualified applicants are North Carolina residents, and were either adopted from the NC Division of Social Services (DSS) foster care after the age of 12 or aged out of NC DSS foster care at age 18.

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In addition to scholarship funds that cover tuition and fees, NC Reach provides emotional supports that students may not otherwise have in their personal lives. Students are matched with a coordinator who helps them academically and personally navigate higher education. They can also request a personal coach, or mentor, who will be there to support and encourage them throughout their collegiate experience. Students will receive three care packages per year and are eligible to participate in the Foster Care to Success InternAmerica Program.

Programs such as NC Reach are making higher education more attainable for all students.

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2017/12/07/for-foster-care-kids-college-degrees-are-elusive http://www.ncreach.org

Coping with Back to School Anxiety

By Jordan Upton

The start of a new school year can be a stressful time for parents and children. For children who have experienced personal trauma - like those in foster care who have been removed from their home and biological families - starting a new school may cause or worsen existing anxiety.

The goal for parents is to be supportive without increasing their child’s stress. Some tips for dealing with back to school anxiety:

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  1. Listen to and Don’t Dismiss Their Worries

    Worries are common but listen to them seriously. Rather than saying “There’s nothing to worry about”, acknowledging your child’s fears will help them feel more secure. Taking them seriously will help your child trust and feel comfortable talking with you over future issues.

  2. Problem Solve

    If your child has very specific worries, like forgetting their lunchbox or homework, work out a plan ahead of time for how you will solve it. Make sure they know who to contact if something goes wrong.

  3. Prepare and Practice
    If possible, take your child to the school before the first day. Let them walk around, find their classroom, get comfortable with this new setting. Practice driving to the drop-off or bus stop. If available, attend open house events where your child can meet their teacher and principal in advance of the first day.

  4. Focus on the Positives

    Ask your child what they’re excited about at school; even if it’s just recess or snack time, it’s a start. Focus on the fun parts of their day to distract them from anxieties. Find things to praise - going a certain amount of days without calling home, being prepared (not forgetting their backpack or lunchbox), good grades - that will encourage them and boost their confidence about attending school.

  5. Pay Attention to Your Attitude and Behavior

    If you are stressed or upset, your child will be able to tell. Be careful what you say and do as children look to you as a model.

https://www.anxietybc.com/parenting/coping-back-school-anxiety https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/

Helping School-aged Children in Care

By Jordan Upton

Did you know. . .

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●  Children in foster care are far more likely to change schools during the school year, to be in special education classes, and to fail to receive passing grades than their general population counterparts.

●  High school dropout rates are 3 times higherfor foster youth than other low-income children

●  Only about 50% of youth in foster care will graduate from high school

●  Over 40% of school-aged children in foster care have educational difficulties

How can you help?

●  Donate school supplies so that students are well-prepared and have one less worry

●  Become a school volunteer to support and encourage youth in the classroom

●  Offer tutoring services for struggling students

●  Become a foster parent and advocate for the most vulnerable children every day

If you’d like to get involved and help promote the educational success of these children, please contact AGAPE today!

Facts from the National Foster Youth Institute: https://www.nfyi.org/issues/education/

Parental Substance Abuse and Its Effects on Foster Care

By Jordan Upton

Kimberly Scott, executive director of AGAPE, is a licensed clinical social worker. Her post graduate work focused on children, families, substance abuse and schizophrenia research. During her work in mental health hospitals, federal prisons, hospice clinics, and private practice she has gained considerable experience assessing children and adults with issues regarding substance abuse. Mrs. Scott said that the current national opioid crisis has definitely impacted her work at AGAPE.

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“We’ve probably had at least 20 opportunities to place babies that have been born addicted to opiates,” Mrs. Scott said in June 2018.

One of those babies, a little boy, was in the hospital detoxing from drugs for five weeks. “It’s so devastating that these little people have to start out like that,” Mrs. Scott said. Luckily, AGAPE was able to place this boy with a loving family to care for him after his release from the hospital.

39% of children entering foster care in North Carolina can attribute their entry to parental substance abuse. It is likely that AGAPE will have numerous other opportunities to place children who have been affected by opiate abuse. The need for caring foster families is greater than ever. If you want to learn more about how you can help, contact AGAPE today for more information.

How Teachers Can Help

By Jordan Upton

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With 70% of children in foster care being of school age, what can teachers do to help?

There is a chance that teachers will not know if any of their students are in foster care or have been adopted, but there are general steps they can take to ensure the safety and happiness of each student in their classroom, regardless of their home life.

  1. Normalize Foster Care and Adoption

    Teachers can incorporate books and lessons that talk about foster care and adoption. Making students aware of different family arrangements and living situations can help any potential foster or adopted children feel more comfortable talking to their teachers, peers, and school administration.

  2. Learn About Student Backgrounds

    Learning about each student in the classroom can help teachers better meet each student’s individual needs. Many students who have been in foster care will experience learning difficulties from shuffling schools and missing too many days. Understanding the reasons behind each child’s difficulties can help teachers create better plans to engage these students.

  3. Build Relationships

    Quickly building positive relationships with students can help them gain self-confidence and feel secure in your classroom. It will be helpful for students, especially those who have traumatic lives outside of school, to know that someone cares for them. Since teachers see their students five days a week, it is important for the students to have trust and respect for this important role model.

  4. Become an Advocate

    Some recommend that teachers become licensed foster parents to better understand what these students may be facing. Teachers who are licensed foster parents may be able to ease the transitions by fostering students from their school, so the students would not have to relocate and potentially fall behind. They could offer a sense of stability. If becoming a licensed foster parent is not possible, teachers could still advocate for training and education for all school personnel to be better equipped to deal with students in foster care and their specific needs.

5 Ways Teachers Can Help https://www.thornwell.org/5-ways-teachers-can-help-students-foster-care/

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Back to School Tips for Foster Parents

By Jordan Upton

With a new school year starting, foster parents may be asking themselves what they can do to help the kids in their care succeed at school. A few tips:

●  Communication is Key

Teachers will not know that a student is in foster care unless you or the student tell them. Disclosing this information can positively impact your child’s success. Many children in foster care experience learning difficulties, and notifying the teacher ahead of time can help them be better prepared to deal with your child’s specific needs.

●  Become Familiar with School Resources

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Many children in foster care also have difficulty navigating social situations appropriately. Misbehaving, even unintentionally, can land students in the principal or guidance counselor’s office. Meeting these school officials and making them aware of potential issues ahead of time will help them be better prepared in the moment if a situation occurs. They may be able to offer you information on after-school programs, tutoring or extracurriculars that could benefit your child.

●  Volunteer at the School

As their foster parent, you have observed this child’s behaviors at home and learned strategies for managing their stress and anxiety. If you volunteer in their classroom, you can help the teacher deal with these behaviors at school. Your presence may be calming to the student and decrease the chances of them misbehaving.

●  Ask for Help

If you are experiencing any trouble, stress, or anxiety about the back-to-school process with your foster child, contact AGAPE! Our social workers, counselors, and therapists are here to help you as well as the children. We care about the well-being of families and know that the better you feel, the better you can take care of others.

North Carolina Foster Youth and School

By Jordan Upton

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Children entering foster care are dealing with drastic changes in their home lives. They are usually removed quickly and have experienced some sort of trauma. 70% of children in care are of school age. In his article, Foster Youth & School: The Ongoing Struggles, Dr. John DeGarmo explains that these children “often miss a great deal of school, as their foster parents and case workers attend to duties such as enrolling the child into school, meeting with counselors and psychologists, and giving the child time to adequately adjust to the new living situation.”

On the UNC School of Government blog, assistant professor Sara DePasquale writes about the impact of school mobility: “Children in care who transfer schools lose four to six months of academic progress with each change in school placement. Children in foster care are more likely to be retained, suspended, and/or expelled; drop out; and perform poorly on standardized tests. In addition to the academic disruption, children who move schools also lose natural supports that exist in their original school, such as siblings, peers, or trusted adults like teachers, counselors, and/or coaches.”

In April 2017, the North Carolina DHHS Division of Social Services implemented an educational stability policy for children in foster care. It requires that every child in the custody of NC welfare agencies must have a plan for educational stability that addresses school stability, school enrollment, educational needs and services, and documentation regarding educational stability. The family services manual explains:

“Educational stability promotes educational success so children in agency custody continue their education without disruption, maintain important relationships, and have the opportunity to achieve college and career readiness. The emphasis of this policy is to minimize the number of school changes for each child and when a school change is unavoidable ensure each child is enrolled in a timely manner. Decisions regarding educational stabilitymust be based on what is in each child’s best interest.”

While there are always improvements to be made, this policy is a step in the right direction for caring for North Carolina’s youth in foster care and their educational needs.

https://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/foster-youth-school-ongoing-struggles https://civil.sog.unc.edu/school-stability-for-children-in-foster-care/ https://www2.ncdhhs.gov/info/olm/manuals/dss/csm-10/man/1201sXIII.pdf

Why You are So Important!

By Kimberly Scott

Director of AGAPE of NC

In 2017, experts warned that North Carolina’s foster care system is in a predicament. The state’s Division of Social Services began noticing in late 2012 that the number of children coming into foster care was exceeding the number exiting the system. With over 11,000 children in NC already in foster homes, our foster care rate is reportedly the highest it has been in the last 10 years and is steadily rising. Many causes factor into the situation:

  • physical and mental trauma, abuse or neglect;

  • parental substance abuse, including the opioid crisis

    we hear so much about;

  • parental incarceration;

  • a reduction in federal funds for mental health services.

    The bottom line is that the number of children currently in our North Carolina foster care system is rising faster than the number of foster families available to support them. It is AGAPE’s Christ-focused mission to fill as much of that gap as possible with Christian counseling and foster homes where these children will be loved and come to know Jesus.

At present, AGAPE of NC has over 30 kids in care with our 25 foster families. Thankfully, we are blessed with another 25 new families pursuing licensure right now. We also have at least a dozen families providing respite foster care. But AGAPE needs more of YOU because the children need more from us.

So, when AGAPE of NC asks YOU to

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  • consider becoming a foster parent or a respite care provider;

  • donate items or funds needed to supply SALEM HOUSE;

  • start saving your spare change now because AGAPE’s 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE! fundraising campaign will kick off in September 2018;

  • volunteer your time & talents; and

  • pray for AGAPE and those who need us...

    know it is ALL for the children and families God wants us to serve. “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Staff Profile: Meet AGAPE of NC's Director, Kim Scott

By Jordan Upton

Executive Director Kimberly Scott knows that her involvement with AGAPE was not her plan, but God’s. As a young girl, Kim often told her family that she wanted a job for God, and took comfort in her mother’s response that “we all have a job for God.” This thinking led her to a life of service and helping others.

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Originally from Texas, Kim earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her husband, an engineer, received calls from headhunters and was offered jobs around the world. She was pregnant when her husband asked if she’d rather move to North Carolina or Germany. With two toddlers and another baby on the way, Kim thought it best to stay in the States. She envisioned the move to North Carolina as a starting point for a life of travel; they would stay a couple years then check out other places. But things don’t always go as we plan, and 19 years later Kim is still enjoying life in NC.

After relocating to NC, Kim was lucky to stay home with her children until they all began school. At that time, she started her own private practice. One day, her minister walked into the office with a new client. Until then, her minister didn’t know that she was a licensed clinical social worker. After seeing her practice and learning of her qualifications, Kim’s minister approached her about AGAPE. He was on the organization’s board of directors and the search committee for a new executive director.

Kim wasn’t looking for a job. She had been in practice for years and had about 15 people working for her. She said, “I was doing great where I was,” and even joked, “I had a great boss - me!”
But after several interviews where she learned more about the meaning and mission of AGAPE, Kim found herself thinking ‘if they’ll have me, I am here.’ When they officially offered her the position of executive director in October 2013, Kim said, “Of course! Of course, I’m going to take this job. No, wasn’t even an option.”

Nearly five years into her role as executive director, Kim says, “I feel truly blessed to be part of this organization, and just to be able to be part of people’s lives in such a profound way.”

Kim has a hand in every aspect of AGAPE - making presentations about foster care, raising awareness, recruiting foster families and board members. She manages the staff and helps with financial planning. She receives calls daily about kids needing placement and works to find a match for them. In short, she does everything she can to fulfill AGAPE’s mission of strengthening families through compassionate Christian outreach.

"First-Night in Foster Care" Backpack Blessings

By Beth Storms

AGAPE Backpack Coordinator

Since January 2018, AGAPE Volunteers have delivered 100“ first-night in foster care” backpack to Department of Social Service offices in 5 North Carolina counties! The DSS workers have expressed gratitude for AGAPE’s outreach to ease the transition for children entering foster care. They tell our Backpack Distributors stories illustrating how important AGAPE’s “comfort bags” are to these kids at one of the most difficult times in their lives.

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To prepare for the next round of deliveries, AGAPE urged a few churches to hold a Backpack Donation Drive in March and April and a “packing” party was held on the heels of that drive. Your kindness has enabled another 194 backpacks to be filled and ready to go (with several leftover items, just in need of blankets, to fill more)!

Thank you to members from the following congregations who generously donated during our Spring 2018 Backpack Donation Drive: Biltmore Church of Christ, Asheville, NC; Cary Church of Christ, Cary, NC; Deep River Church of Christ, High Point, NC; Jericho Church of Christ, Mocksville, NC; Brooks Avenue Church of Christ, North Raleigh Church of Christ, and Raleigh Church of Christ, Raleigh, NC. We also want to thank an individual Friend outside of these fellowships who donated beautiful homemade blankets along with other items. We deeply appreciate ALL the Church Leaders and Volunteers who promote this AGAPE Ministry; collect, organize, store and transport donated items; and deliver these first response backpacks to DSS!

Book Recommendation: Another Place at the Table

By Jordan Upton

Kathy Harrison used to struggle for an answer to the common question, “What do you do?” After decades of experience, Kathy now has a ready reply: “I do some writing and some teaching, but my important job is being a foster mother.”

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Kathy explores her family and life choices in her highly rated book, Another Place at the Table. Published in 2003, the book details many of Kathy’s experiences fostering children in need. At the time of publication, she had fostered 100 children. Now in 2018, she has fostered 153.

In her book, Kathy describes how she found her calling to “offer a small island of safety in an unsafe and terrifying world.” After raising three biological sons, Kathy went to work in a Head Start program. She dealt daily with children in need, seeing them placed in foster care and fast-tracked for adoption. She and her husband decided to foster-to-adopt a pair of siblings from the Head Start program, after which Kathy began her full-time commitment to foster care. “I chose to devote myself to caring for the state’s neediest children,” she wrote.

Kathy and her husband were awarded Massachusetts Foster Parents of the Year in 1996. In 2002 they were awarded the Goldie Rogers Memorial Award for embodying Goldie’s ‘spirit of dedication and commitment to foster parenting and advocacy efforts’. In 2003, Kathy was featured as one of People magazine’s ‘Heroes Among Us’.

Another Place at the Table is an excellent read for current foster parents, those considering becoming a foster parent, and those who are curious to know more about the system in general. Kathy writes about heartbreaking situations and difficult children but manages to keep a positive attitude and a sense of hopefulness. She believes in the goodness of people and the ability to make a positive impact on children’s lives through patience and compassion. Through her writing, Kathy empowers readers to “live a life that matters, a life that makes a difference”.

Read reviews and see why Another Place at the Table has been rated 4.2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/391081.Another_Place_at_the_Table

Read more about Kathy Harrison here: http://www.helpourkidsinc.org/foster-hero-kathy-harrison/

Partnership Made in Heaven

by Lisa Brewer

Lisa Brewer serves as Executive Director of Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival.

For the past two years, AGAPE of NC has sponsored the Kids’ Activities tent at Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival. The event is the nation’s only bluegrass festival held at a Bible camp promoting Bible study and wholesome recreation. In fact, it might just be the most family-friendly festival around. And that works out well for a partnership between CBC and AGAPE.

More than two thousand guests have visited the festival on the second Saturday of September since AGAPE began sponsoring a children’s area. Multi-generational families with members of all ages have enjoyed the best in bluegrass artists, tasty meals, a classic car show, and a variety of free crafts activities. The AGAPE of NC’s Kids’ Activities tent has featured Bible crafts, recyclables for art projects, a Bible coloring page and free face painting. Each year, a “Save the Date” coloring page has been designed by artist and CBC camper, Melea Womack, of the Charlotte area (she doubles as a face painter).

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“Our involvement with Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival began because we wanted to increase our own organization's profile,” said AGAPE of NC ExecutiveDirector, Kimberly Scott. “The festival gave us a very appropriate venue in which to do that. What makes this a great place for AGAPE to be is the audience. Guests who attend this event believe in family values. And if they have not experienced strong families before, we can demonstrate what they look like here.”

The annual bluegrass festival is a fundraiser for the Bible camp’s capital development and scholarship funds. No child has ever been turned away from Carolina Bible Camp due to an inability to pay. In fact, every camper’s fee is kept low and supplemented by the fundraiser.

Performing artists are chosen carefully by the festival committee to ensure family-friendly listening. Alcohol and tobacco products are not permitted at the Camp at any time, including during the festival.

Carolina Bible Camp is situated on sixty-eight wooded acres in Mocksville, NC. Cabins are rustic in design with modern accommodations including heat, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms. A dining hall with commercial grade kitchen comfortably seats 250 at one time. Outdoor activities include walking trails, in-ground pool (open during summer camp weeks only), beach volleyball, jungle gym, disc golf and more. The largest outdoor shelter is a popular gathering spot for a cappella singing during camping weeks.  During the bluegrass festival, it becomes a Pickers’ Place for instrumentalists who want to “jam.” More than 100 volunteers work together to create a memorable family festival experience for guests.

In addition to sponsoring the Kids’ Activities tent, Scott and other AGAPE representatives promoted AGAPE at a separate booth at the bluegrass festival.

“This has given us a means to engage with festival guests directly,” Scott explained. “We have had many special conversations about exploring foster family service and supporting AGAPE’s mission in various ways."

“We believe in the healing qualities of music, fun, and fellowship,” Scott said. “Those activities are so important to families, and they are highlighted at Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival. With Christ as the foundation of the Camp and the foundation of AGAPE, we know we are at the right place to share Christ as the foundation of the family.”

The seventh annual Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2018. Performing artists include Grammy winner Alison Brown; acclaimed Bobby Hicks, Mark Kuykendal & Asheville Bluegrass; returning favorite Tim White & Troublesome Hollow; 2017 MerleFest band competition winners The Trailblazers; 2016 MerleFest band competition winners Fireside Collective; the popular Snyder Family Band; and famed pre-war stringband musician Dwight “Sawman” Hawkins. For more information, please contact Lisa Brewer at spchwoman@ aol.com or visit www.cbcbluegrass.com.

Board of Directors Profile: Meet Vice Chairman Joe Hall

By Jordan Upton

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AGAPE of North Carolina could not run as efficiently or productively if it were not for the help of our amazing and diverse staff, volunteers, and board members. The board of directors is made up of various members of the community who help maintain AGAPE’s pursuit of excellence. Each of these members bring a unique yet equally important aspect to the organization, which allows growth, new perspectives, and expert problem solving. The board is made up of various positions, each of which holding a particular purpose and integral for the board to function well. The positions rotate every few years allowing for new faces and fresh ideas to be brought to these posts. The members of the board, who live across parts of North Carolina and in various states across the U.S., meet quarterly either in person or via teleconference to discuss the future plans with AGAPE and to ensure the organization is running at its highest potential.

One of these board members is Mr. Joe Hall, of Claremont, North Carolina. Mr. Hall is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force. After spending 20-plus years traveling the country, Joe and his wife of 34 years, Cathy, ended up in Kansas. There, the couple with their two biological children, fostered a two-month-old daughter, Kimi. Shortly after, Kimi had three other siblings brought in to be fostered by the Hall family. Three years later, all four children were adopted by Joe and Cathy. The family then moved to North Carolina where Joe teaches JROTC at Bunker Hill High School.

Lt. Col. Hall became involved with AGAPE after viewing a presentation former Director Tom Slaughter made at a church service one morning recruiting potential volunteers, foster families, donors, and sharing the message of AGAPE. Shortly after Joe became a board member where he has now served in various capacities including Vice Chairman and Chairman over the past seven years.

AGAPE is blessed to have people such as Lt. Col. Hall be a part of our organization and thank him and his family, as well as families like his, for all of the work they do for AGAPE.

Making Lemonade for Those Given Lemons

By Jordan Upton

AGAPE of N.C. is incredibly blessed to have such helpful, thoughtful, and compassionate donors and volunteers. This help comes in various ways, whether it be by donating monetarily, donating their time, or even sharing AGAPE’s social media posts to raise the public’s awareness of the organization. While any and all support for AGAPE is greatly appreciated, one of the most special stories of our volunteers is that of 11-year-old Meredith Finch.

In June of 2017 the Finch family, Craig, Cara, and their daughter Meredith had three foster children placed with them from AGAPE. After the arrival of the three children, the then 10-year-old Meredith saw that children in foster care have very few personal effects to call their own and was determined to help in any way she could. This led her to build and paint, with the help of her grandfather and mother, a lemonade stand. Meredith sets up either at home or outside of a family friend’s store in town. The money made over the course of a few months from September of 2017 to the end of the year was over $300. With the profits, Meredith bought toothbrushes, pajamas, blankets, toys, and anything else she felt foster children would need. The remaining funds Meredith had were donated directly to AGAPE.

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So far this year, after only being open twice, Meredith’s lemonade stand has raised close to $300 and shows no sign of slowing down. Meredith’s mother, Cara, explained that the kindness of strangers has led to the accumulation of the money donated to AGAPE. After learning the money is going to the organization some people do not even purchase the ice cold lemonade or delicious cookies. Meredith advertises AGAPE’s website and those who simply want to give are directed to the donate page of the website.

AGAPE is honored to have people like Meredith and her family associated with the organization. If you or anyone you know would like to help donate time, supplies, or money to AGAPE please visit https://www.agapeofnc.org/donate/.

Maintaining Relationships Between Past Foster Parents and Foster Children

by Carrie Craft

liveabout.com
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Connections are important to a child.  When caregivers change, sometimes without the child understanding why, it can send the wrong message to the child that they are not loved or worthy.  Finding creative ways to keep a level of communication open with those that a child wants a relationship with can be very important and healthy. Today's article by Carrie Craft offers good advice on maintaining relationships.   

Source: https://www.liveabout.com/maintaining-rela...