What Happens After 18?: Aging Out of Foster Care

Leah Tripp

I remember the excitement I felt leading up to March of 2016.

I was turning 18, and I felt like I had the whole world in front of me. I was a senior in high school, I knew where I was going to college, and I felt like I had plenty of options open to me as I moved forward into legal “adulthood.”

18th birthdays should be full of promise and expectation, but for many young adults in America, turning 18 marks a time of great uncertainty.

Each year, over 23,000 children age out of the US foster care system.

Aging out of foster care can be traumatic for a variety of reasons. From a logistical standpoint, many children who age out of foster care become effectively homeless the day they turn 18 if they do not have a support system that is willing to provide them care and housing. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, homelessness impacts 20% of youth who age out of foster care.

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For those who avoid the immediate threat of homelessness, there are a range of other obstacles related to employment, education, and emotional health.

Youth who age out of foster care go to college at a significantly lower rate, as they may not have adults who are willing to guide them through application processes, academic requirements, and required testing.

Their lack of participation in post-secondary education is not due to lack of ability, but to lack of awareness.

In terms of employment, 50% of foster children who age out of the system will have gainful employment by the age of 24. Statistically, the other half of these youth will struggle to maintain stable jobs. The lack of consistent employment can contribute to cyclic patterns that keep foster youth from being able to own their own homes, pursue educational opportunities, or achieve career advancements.

Ultimately, foster youth are in great need of those willing to guide them, care for them, and invest in their lives and growth.

This care can come in the form of full-time foster parenting, mentoring, respite care, or volunteering.

Many Young Adult Foster Homes are beginning to address the challenges associated with aging out by providing care and guidance to foster youth ages 18-21.

These homes allow those who have technically “aged out” to have time to develop necessary skills and a support system in a familial setting.

If you are interested in learning more about helping foster youth, or about Young Adult Foster Homes, visit agapeofnc.org

Young Adult Foster Homes

By Mary Arnold

We are committed to providing these young women with the support they need to assist them in becoming the independent, strong women that God created them to be (Psalm 139:13).

Have you ever wondered what happens to teens when they turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care system?
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 provided a provision that allows states to receive federal money for programs associated with supporting young adults who choose to remain in foster care up to the age of 21. North Carolina is one of 25 states to extend foster care beyond 18 years of age.

AGAPE of NC opened Young Adult Foster Homes in October of this year for young ladies aged 18-21. We are committed to providing these young women with the support they need to assist them in becoming the independent, strong women that God created them to be (Psalm 139:13).

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The young ladies will all be working on different goals while residing at Young Adult Foster Homes. Some will be finishing up high school. Others will be going to college or working to save money to buy a car or rent their own place to live.

Ms. Fay Evans, who has a passion for helping young women and assisting them with the transition to the next phase of their lives, is our resident Foster Parent for our Young Adult Foster Homes located in Raleigh. Ms. Evans has worked with teen girls for over 20 years. She prays for each girl daily -- those who are in her care and those who will be coming into her care. She prays for God’s direction and wisdom in leading the young ladies toward independence.

AGAPE needs additional women volunteers for Young Adult Foster Homes. Ms. Evans will need respite care providers for the home, and we would also like to have mentors from congregations in the area for each young girl. If you have an interest in volunteering at Young Adult Foster Homes please contact Mary Arnold by email at: marnold@agapeofnc.org or by phone at: 919.673.7816.

Prayer and Challenge for 2019

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By Kimberly Scott

Matthew 22:36-40 says “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” I started out with this verse because God’s hand has been in the hearts of fellow christians, of our communities, of commercial businesses and of our government by the ways that they’ve responded to the many natural disasters that have occurred this year.

Christians and communities alike have banded together to help the individuals/families/businesses that have been affected by fires in California, hurricane Michael, hurricane Florence, earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, flooding in Japan just to name a few for 2018. While these natural disasters have been physically devastating, it has also been a reminder of Gods spirit of love and compassion that has infected humanity across the world.

God used these events to remind us how tenuous our plans can be but also to remind us and the world of what really matters when others are hurting and in need.

Businesses and governmental aid have come to the rescue. Several well known businesses such as Wal Mart, Home Depot, GoFundMe, Starbucks and Walgreens are a few who have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to disaster relief. Governmental agencies that are there at ground zero ready to lend aid, risk their lives and delve into danger for others include FEMA, the Red Cross and numerous First responders.

My prayer and challenge for 2019 is that, as quick and fierce as humankind rises to the challenge with the natural disasters that have been talked about above, they will see, they will feel and they will act for the devastation of parentless children and hurting families that are a part of the mission of AGAPE. Strengthening Families One Child at a Time.

Appreciation for Volunteers and Ways to Get Involved

We are extremely grateful for the work our volunteers perform and the ways they minister to AGAPE of NC! We try to make each volunteer’s experience enjoyable by offering opportunities that match individual skills, interests, and passions.

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Some of our current volunteer projects involve working “behind the scenes,” helping with many administrative tasks while other volunteers take on jobs where they may become a “face and spokesperson” for AGAPE. Areas where AGAPE heavily relies on our wonderful volunteers include:

Foster Care Backpack Volunteers

These folks organize donation drives; collect, inventory and store donations; periodically coordinate a group to fill AGAPE’s backpacks with those donations; and deliver the filled AGAPE backpacks to Department of Social Services Offices in various counties a few times a year.

Beth Storms, Kenitra Williams, Teresa Jenkins, and Carol Woollens (together with a lot of other helpful servants) have been instrumental in helping us to grow this ministry.

Newsletter Contributors

We are always looking for newsletter content and welcome anyone who has a foster care and/or adoption story to write and submit an article. We express appreciation to some of our recurring authors: Kia Carter, Erica Asbury, Lydia Huth, Beth Storms, and Jordan Upton.

Time and talents shared by Angela Hardison are also invaluable. For the last couple of years, she has diligently worked on lay out, editing, and printing of AGAPE’s newsletters.

Mail Distribution Administrators

Although AGAPE delivers our newsletter & other information via email to those of you who have e-subscribed, the numberof people interested in AGAPE continues to grow. So, we still send a lot of mail through the postal service.

We appreciate Latrelle Dechene, Mallory Scott, and JaimeTodd for all their work stuffing, folding, stickering, labelling, stamping, and going to the Post Office.

Event Planners & Hospitality Coordinators

Volunteers from all over North Carolina coordinate AGAPE events at their churches and in their communities to raise awareness about the needs of the children, teens and families AGAPE serves. We recognize we could not do it without these tireless individuals.

If you would like to Volunteer with AGAPE of NC in one of the capacities described above, or if you have other ideas about ways you want to get involved, please contact Kaye Orander at korander@agapeofnc.org or 919-810-7178. She would love to talk with you about having a vital impact on AGAPE’s mission to serve children and families in North Carolina.

Director's Update Fall 2018: Change for Life

By Kimberly Scott

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This September AGAPE has launched our 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE giving campaign to run through the end of the year! Once again, we challenge you to save your spare change and prayerfully consider your intentional support for AGAPE of NC.

AGAPE, and the communities we serve, were blessed by the amazing response showered upon us during the campaign last year. When all the CHANGE FOR LIFE donations were counted (during Q1 2018), you had provided over $91,000! Let’s Glorify Him by aiming much higher this year so more children, teens and families may benefit from our Christ-centered outreach!

THANK YOU in advance to the churches who will set aside a special time to collect contributions dedicated to AGAPE during our CHANGE FOR LIFE giving campaign (on top of the monthly, quarterly, and annual financial support you have already committed).

MANY THANKS to all the individuals, too, who will give to AGAPE during this coming giving season – and throughout the year. Your regular support helps sustain the mission we are all called to in James 1:27.

Everyone’s gifts directly impact the growing circle of AGAPE foster & adoptive families opening their hearts and homes to children & teens, birth families reunited through our post-adoption services, and those who seek counsel from our professional and compassionate counseling staff.

If you or your church would like more information about AGAPE and our plans to create CHANGE FOR LIFE, please visit our website: www.agapeofnc.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @AGAPEOFNC.

Why We Do Respite

Your donations support and equip foster families in your community who are opening their loving, Christian homes right now to children in need. Other Christian families assist them in this mission work by occasionally providing respite. Please watch & listen as the Williams family shares why they became Respite Providers.

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.

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)

"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!

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.

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/.

A Call for Partnerships

By Jordan Upton

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AGAPE of North Carolina offers a lot of impactful programming for youth and families, and we would love to share more information about our organization with you!

In March 2018, we were pleased to attend the Southern Women’s Show at Wake Technical Community College and connect with women in the Triangle area.

We were excited for the opportunity to outreach more recently in western North Carolina. Early in June 2018, we were able to speak with members of the Abilene Church of Christ in Statesville.

We appreciate the opportunity to meet with people and have important conversations in person. As we increase our efforts to recruit potential foster families and spread the mission of AGAPE, we would welcome the opportunity to share our message with similar organizations.

For example, later in June, we’ll be visiting with members of the Kannapolis Church of Christ. We will also be participating in the annual Juneteenth celebration in Durham on Saturday, June 16.

If your church or community organization would like to hear more about AGAPE and our mission, please contact us! Call our main office at (919) 673-7816, or e-mail our office manager, Kaye Orander (korander@agapeofnc.org) to discuss the opportunities for partnership.

There are children in need in our area, and we believe our community can join together to positively impact their lives.

What Can Churches Do to Help AGAPE of N.C.?

By Jordan Upton

One of the greatest assets AGAPE of N.C. has at our disposal is the support and friendship of local churches in our community. The encouragement, volunteer time, and donations received from local, state, and nation-wide partners are invaluable resources that help AGAPE of N.C. provide the greatest possible care in fostering, adoption, and counseling services.

If you are new to AGAPE and are wondering how you and your church can help further our mission, here are a few easy ways you can help be an advocate.

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Donations

AGAPE is grateful for any and all monetary donations that support our continued programs. Gifts may be made online or via check. For more information on donations, please seehttps://www.agapeofnc.org/donate/.

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Normalize the Idea of Fostering and Adoption

There’s a joke about newlyweds constantly being asked by family when they’re going to have kids. It’s played out on television and movies, even in best-selling novels. When these conversations happen in real life, you have the opportunity to discuss alternative family planning. Fostering or adopting isn’t the first idea that comes to most minds when planning for children, but with open, honest conversations, the ideas can be more normalized in today’s society. A better understanding of and a more accepting attitude toward fostering and adopting will benefit those in the system.

Encourage Fostering

Talk to your friends, family, and fellow church members about fostering. Explain how children in crisis could benefit from a stable, nurturing, secure, Christian environment. Encourage others to explore the option of providing comfort and care to children in need.

Volunteering

AGAPE welcomes volunteers who wish to share their skills and passions with us. We hope to create a valuable experience that will benefit both the volunteer and our organization. Please check our list of current volunteer opportunities here: https://www.agapeofnc.org/opportunities/. If you don’t see a role that fits you, please contact AGAPE’s administrative assistant Kaye Orander at 919-673-7816 or korander@agapeofnc.org to express your interest in volunteering and to discuss how you can become part of our mission to serve the children of North Carolina.

Support Those Who Foster

Ask how you can be there for current foster parents: physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually. Monetary donations to AGAPE support our foster parents, but you can be their advocate in other ways too. You could be a shoulder to lean on or a compassionate, listening ear. Pray for the foster parents and their families. Refer them to AGAPE if you feel they need more professional support than you can provide.

Help Spread the Word About AGAPE

The more people who know about our organization, the more people we are potentially able to help. Sharing our blog posts, liking our Instagram posts, following our newsletter, and liking and sharing our Facebook updates will allow us to reach a wider audience. You never know who may see a post you share and how it may affect them. Your sharing could indirectly lead someone to AGAPE to become a donor, volunteer, or foster parent! Spreading the word about AGAPE will help bring awareness to our mission and garner more support of it.

Staff Profile: Meet the Mentor of Salem House

By Jordan Upton

With the help of donors, board members, and the community, AGAPE of NC was able to open the Salem House in 2017. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this house allows for young men aged 18 to 21 who are near to aging out of the foster care system to reside with a house mentor. Here they gain invaluable resources such as job training, resume building, and life skills that will be utilized after their stay at the Salem House.

Currently there are four residents at Salem House under the tutelage of Mr. Larry Dais. Mr. Dais, a recent retiree from the electronic industry, is the foster parent who serves as guardian, teacher, and mentor to these four young men. When asked how he became involved with AGAPE, Dais explained, “There’s a gentleman I go to church with, Joe Hall, and he is a member of the board of directors of AGAPE. And he approached me one day and asked if I would be interested in fostering these 18 to 21 year old boys. And I thought about it for a week or so, and thought it might be something I’d like to do.” This was only the first step on the path that would lead Larry to the Salem House.

The next step for Mr. Dais was to become certified in Foster Care, which is a North Carolina statute to serve in this capacity in the system. After training alongside Mrs. Grace Hepler for ten to eleven months, which included exhaustive and extensive research on scenarios, state rules and regulations, as well as understanding the values associated with AGAPE, Mr. Dais passed his state licensure test in June of 2017.

When asked what a typical day at the Salem House looks like, Larry explained that school and work are first and foremost. Any remaining time available around those two areas include family-type interactions with each other where adult responsibilities such as chores and budgeting are discussed. Additionally, Larry stated his intent to teach the boys skills like writing a resume, how to perform well during an interview, and how to properly fill out job applications. Larry also has hopes of bringing in volunteers to show their certain areas of expertise, such as cooking, to the residents of the house.

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When asked about what members of the community can do to help the Salem House and the foster care community as a whole Mr. Dais said that they need “volunteer[s] to teach these boys about life; how to be adults. We could even have families come in to talk about family dynamics. Hopefully one day these young men will become dads or fathers. And with these break-ups and disconnects they’ve gone through in their lives, I’m sure a lot of them have no real model for how to be a dad, how to be part of a family. So I would just really encourage folks to get involved.”

Whether you are in the Winston-Salem community and are willing and able to volunteer your time to help these boys learn how to expertly navigate adulthood, or you just get the word out about the Salem House, Mr. Dais strongly urges to be an advocate for not only AGAPE and the Salem House in particular, but of fostering as a whole and describes his short time fostering as incredibly satisfying. Donating your time, money, or materials to worthwhile projects such as the Salem House benefits all involved and helps to maintain a community of love, care, and fellowship. Even if it is as small as donating a jar of peanut butter. As Mr. Dais told me, “We could always use another jar of peanut butter.”

Backpack Blessings

By Beth Storms

“These backpacks can seem like a tiny thing to us, but they can mean so much to a child with nothing; it says someone cares for them.” Sandi B

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It takes many caring hands to fill a little backpack 14” square. These first response foster care bags are just big enough to hold a child’s blanket, small stuffed animal, coloring/activity book, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a note of encouragement.

Before these little yellow backpacks with the AGAPE logo on the front can be filled, a call is made, donated items are purchased, a collection area is set up, and arrangements are made to transport. Upon arrival, the items are sorted into bins and gently used items are washed and sometimes mended.

Packing day arrives! Fran described her August backpack packing experience this way...what initially looked like an amazing amount of items sorted across two long rows of tables, came to mean so much more after learning how they would be used; maybe a little boy would like a superhero themed backpack or a little girl might like a pretty pink princess themed backpack. Sandi shared how she and her husband were once AGAPE Foster Parents; perhaps their loving example is a reason their son and his family are now fostering through another organization where they live in Arkansas. Sharon appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how the AGAPE ministry touches the lives of children placed in foster care as she worked. While Carolyn feels physically limited in how she can serve these days, she was glad to able to help.

Hands help in many other amazing ways. Carolyn also serves with the Raleigh Bear Ministry; both Raleigh and Brooks Ave provide bears. A Quilt Ministry at Deep River creates beautiful quilts and graciously donates several to the AGAPE Backpack Ministry. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of an active toddler who often feels like her life has been reduced to an unending round of laundry, dishes, and story time. Making comfort blankets for the younger foster children when her schedule allows helps fulfill her desire to serve.

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Two fall youth rallies hosted by the Cary and Raleigh youth, produced over 150 encouragement cards to slip into the AGAPE backpacks by simply setting up an area for kids to get creative. Geri, the coordinator of this activity at Cary, said several stayed to make cards specifically because the cards were for AGAPE; many already knew about the ministry because their congregation had collected items to go in the backpacks. One girl, about 12, not aware of AGAPE asked Geri about the activity; after learning what it was for, she shared with Geri that she was currently in foster care and intently proceeded to make several cards. Each card was designed with a sense of caring and, while Geri said she struggled with what to say to a young child she did not know, most of the kids had no trouble with what to write.

Teresa became a Backpack Distributor last July; upon following up with the Social Worker Supervisor a few weeks after her first visit she learned all the backpacks were given out within
a week which was heartbreaking for her to hear but also solidified her reasons for volunteering. The supervisor shared that many children they place only come with the clothes they have on and how she was blessed to personally witness the happiness these backpacks can bring when she had the opportunity to hand out two herself.

And then, we begin again! A spring donation drive is in the works. We tend to run out of blankets when we are packing; winter clearance sales may be a good time to help us stock up! Five Below or thrift stores may be other good resources. 

Giving Whole-Heartedly!

By Alandya Warren

It is a universal truth that Jesus is the one friend who will stick by your side for eternity; I believe this wholeheartedly.  In the four gospels, more specifically in Mark chapter two, we learn that a paralyzed man desires to see Jesus once he hears of the Messiah's arrival in town. Everyone else in Capernaum shares that same longing and a crowd soon surrounds Jesus as he shares the Word. The paralyzed man garners his four friends to accompany him to see Jesus, but they cannot get to Jesus because of the crowd. At this point, many people would have turned back and settled for something less than what they wanted. But the paralyzed man's friends were adamant about getting him to Jesus. The friends climbed the dwelling place all the way to the top, dug through the roof, and lowered their friend down to the Lord. 

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It is in this story that I, Alandya Warren, long to be that type of friend to those around me. The friends found in the Gospel of Mark saw and knew how to meet their disabled friend's needs, and it was with Jesus. If we genuinely want to be like Jesus - to love the unlovable, forgive the unworthy, and do good to those we can never repay you - it is one of the greatest gifts you can give and experience yourself. 

AGAPE of NC was the organization that was quintessential in the meeting the needs of my heart; which was to give wholeheartedly. 

Note: For her Sweet 16 Birthday in November 2017, the author asked her family and friends to gift donations to AGAPE in lieu of presenting her with gifts! Let us all be so inspired! 

The CHANGE for LIFE You Gave was Awesome!

Director's Update

By Kim Scott

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With many thanks to YOU for responding to our appeals, we can declare AGAPE's Second Annual CHANGE for LIFE campaign a resounding success! Together, you exceeded our financial campaign goal of $70,000 - raising a total of $82,000! That's an almost 31% increase over the previous year's campaign! 

The Second Annual CHANGE for LIFE campaign again challenged donors to save their spare change until churches across North Carolina could collect it on the AGAPE Sundays they designated in December 2017 and January 2018. We also requested continuous prayer over all the other donations given monthly, quarterly and annually each year in support of AGAPE's mission.  

Our social media outreach focused on raising awareness about all the opportunities to make a CHANGE for LIFE! Some of those efforts included: 

- Allowing everyone to "meet" some of our foster families by sharing videos

- Launching our first GIVING TUESDAY appeal last November

- Working with WQDR on commercials that aired throughout November and December to communicate the need for more foster parents.

The positive impact of your faithful support is already evident in 2018 with:

- New foster families becoming licensed

- Additional foster children being placed into these homes

- New adoptions

- Additional opportunities to provide Christian counseling to members of our community.

Our gratitude goes out to you all for believing and participating in AGAPE's calling to place foster and adoptive children in safe, loving, Christian homes.