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lawreene kids in the pool
Foster Family

When Foster Parents Say Goodbye

In March, we bid farewell to Angels’ Arms foster parents Lawreene (left) and Will Hall (middle). While some tears were shed on all sides, it will be a great new start for the Halls as they retire to Florida! And, their foster children are able to stay in their Angels’ Arms home, already bonding with their new foster parents.

The Halls have been fostering for 10 years, and joined Angels’ Arms as parents in June of 2020, during the height of covid. What they experienced joining the Angels’ Arms family is something they will never forget.

Support, support and more support!

What was different when they began fostering in an Angels’ Arms home? Lawreene made it very clear, “From day one, it was the level of support and the extended family. You could see the difference overnight. Being part of the Angels’ Arms family, with all the different parents and different levels of experience, you always had someone to call on who would understand. No matter what situation you were facing, the other foster parents would listen, and they gave great advice.”

The support made a huge difference in the lives of Lawreene and Will’s foster children. “A lot of the public believe that you become a foster parent for the money.” Lawreene explained, “They don’t realize that you are given maybe $300 a year to clothe a child. It is wonderful with Angels’ Arms to get extra gift cards to get the boys some clothes. Some of them are growing so fast that I have to shop almost monthly.”

While Lawreene and her boys are big thrift store shoppers, “A gift card means I can go out and get them a brand-new pair of pants. It does something for their confidence, They stand taller, smile more, because they get to go to school with a new outfit. And that little purchase is a big confidence booster.

Little things like this make a huge difference in these kids’ lives. And Angels’ Arms takes care of so many little details that they see. It’s all those little things that help the foster parents make a real home and provide a real childhood for the kids.”

In addition to helping with food and clothing, the Hall family really enjoyed the opportunity to gather with other Angels’ Arms families. Their boys love getting together with the foster kids from Angels’ Arms 15 homes. “The boys felt the difference from before and after living in an Angels’ Arms home. The staff and community supporters think of everything. They put together fantastic family events and outings. It’s been a joy to be a part of Angels’ Arms. This is the model that should be duplicated across the country through other foster care agencies.”

And then there are the meals. Supporters often provide meals that seem to come at just the right time. “I’ve had them delivered on days when I was sick, and it was such a blessing. Or I might get involved with appointments for the kids, and when I finally get home, I still have to figure out dinner. That’s when the meals are so great.”

What happens in Florida?

The Halls plan to retire and do some traveling. And, although they are moving into a retirement community, Lawreene plans to figure out how to continue working with kids. “My passion is still to help kids. I want to connect with some school or agency down there and help out. Being an Angels’ Arms foster parent has been such a great experience. The three short years we were here, made a huge difference. I sing Angels’ Arms’ praises whenever I can and wherever I can. I’ll forever be attached, even from Florida.”

While she’s happy for the new beginning, Lawreene admits she is very sad to leave her foster kids. Their new foster parents (Tamatha and Guido Araya) moved into the home and provided a smooth transition, meeting the boys and spending time with them at several family outings. Lawreene explained, “It’s important to keep the boys in the same school, and to have the stability of their home and neighborhood. They are excited about the Arayas coming.”

Under the Angels’ Arms Umbrella

“Coming to Angels’ Arms has shown me that there are so many kind and generous people in St. Louis. It is amazing. The news is so negative, and you hear all the bad and see all the division. Under Angels’ Arms, it’s diverse, but it’s still a big family feel. When you experience this kind of love from complete strangers, it restores your faith in humanity. There is still good out there in the world, and that’s what I really want these boys to see. They appreciate what people do, and it helps them grow up to have a generous spirit and to be kind and big hearted. I see that in them.

“Being under the Angels’ Arms umbrella is a safe place to be. You feel the support. I just wish we could pattern this 50 more times – we’d have an Angels’ Arms in each state. The world would be different because the children would be different. These children will grow up to be citizens who will make a difference. It takes us all – everybody has a role to play. You may not be taking a child in your home, but everybody can help in some small way.”

Making a difference

“The donors should know, those meals, those gift cards – you’re making a huge difference in a child’s life, in a foster parent’s life. It might seem like it’s a small thing, but it’s huge. Trying to navigate the whole foster care system is sometimes overwhelming in itself. Donors may not know that what they have done may have come at just the right time. That extra support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference.”

Lawreene and Will have touched the lives and hearts of so many children in their 10 years of fostering. We wish them well on their new journey, and thank them for the huge difference they made in the many lives they touched.

Foster Family

Sharing the LOVE this Valentine’s Day!

Sweet Stories for the Month of Love!

Some of the first things that come to people’s minds when they think of the month of February are Valentine’s Day, love, Groundhog Day, Black History Month, or Mardi Gras. Well…if your first thought for February is Valentine’s Day, we have so many sweet stories to share!

I am sure you can think back to the days when you spent weeks thinking about what valentines you were going to pick for your class, taking time to think about which valentine each classmate would receive, and what your Valentine’s Day box was going to look like. You may have even been the person who forgot to get your valentine’s box until the night before, causing a panicked hurry to the store for your parents!

Some of the members of the Singleton family have never had a Valentine’s Day party. Their foster mom decided to throw them a party at home and made a very special Valentine’s gift for them to open.  The kids enjoyed putting up the decorations throughout the house and were so happy to be having a Valentine’s party.  

The McDaniel family recently started a new tradition this year in their home. They have a bulletin board that displays their artwork. During the month of February, the foster mother in this home celebrated each of her foster children leading up to Valentine’s Day. We can only imagine how excited the kids in this home must have been when they walked past the bulletin board and saw themselves spotlighted!

The oldest child in the Spencer family made more steps towards being independent with a little help from her foster mom. This young lady rode her bike to the local community college to register for college classes and has also been riding her bike to work. What an amazing young lady to ride her bike in the winter to do these things to help her in the future! Punxsutawney Phil told us we had six more weeks of winter, but we hope that the spring weather is here to stay so this young lady can enjoy more bike rides.

Have you ever wanted to lounge around the house and just watch movies all day? One of our foster parents was asked by the nine-year-old in the Miller family if they could lounge on the chaise and watch a movie. While they were watching the movie, the foster child had their head on their foster mom’s chest, and she said she could hear and feel her heartbeat. A couple minutes later the child said their hearts were beating at the same time and that makes them one. This special moment touched their mother’s heart as it captured just how she, as their foster mother, feels and how blessed they are to have each other.

The Tripp family came home from a fun afternoon at the park to find out their kitty, Hunter, had unexpectedly passed away. The four-year-old in the home was with her foster mother when she received the news about Hunter, and she sat on the porch comforting her. She comforted her foster mother by rubbing her back and saying, “Don’t cry, Hunter knows you loved him.” Hunter will always be a part of this foster family and the foster mother was thankful her daughter was there to comfort her during this time.

After having a fun-filled summer, one of our foster moms printed all the photos of her family so they could create memory books. What a great idea! As the Bocklage foster family was going through the photos, the ten-year-old burst into tears as soon as the photos were given to them. Their foster mom asked why they were crying, and their response was, “I can’t believe I finally have real pictures of me and my brother.”  

After reading all the incredible stories of some of the sweet children in our homes shared by our amazing foster moms, we want you to take a moment to imagine an almost 6-foot-tall young man, soon to be a young adult, wanting a hug goodnight every night. This young man has been through so much and every night before he goes to bed, he requests a hug and tells his foster mom, “I love you dearly Grandma and thank you for being there for me.” He has ambitious dreams to become a successful young man and eventually wants to be able to bring his kids to visit his foster mom on the holidays.