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.