“Typically Angels’ Arms Junior Board hosts three happy hours that help raise money to fund activities for the foster children living in Angels’ Arms homes,” says Angels’ Arms Event Coordinator, Maria Chandler. “Sadly, this year, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t. So we had to get creative on how to recoup those lost funds. The Junior Board quickly jumped right into action to make up the difference!”
As our busiest couple months ever comes to a close, we can’t wait to introduce you to our newest house mother, Kasondra McDaniel! She will be moving into one of our Ballwin homes. Kasondra and Kim, one of our current house parents, are sisters. So not only are we helping foster siblings, but we also have siblings doing the fostering! Kasondra has been fostering for two years now and has fostered five children including two sibling groups. Please enjoy this brief Q&A with Kasondra:
My sister and all her many foster children inspired me. Kim has been a foster parent in the St. Louis area for over 20 years. Her family has made a home for over a hundred foster children. Watching her and the children over the years inspired me to help make a difference in children’s lives.
What does it mean to you to now be a part of the Angels’ Arms Family?
Being a foster parent is challenging, as well as rewarding. Angels’ Arms provides support/resources and a community for foster families. The African Proverb is true, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That quote is especially true when dealing with foster care. In addition to becoming part of an organization that is focused on making foster children’s lives better. It will be a great honor and blessing for my family to be a part of the Angels’ Arms family.
Do you have a favorite memory of fostering? If so, what is it?
Some of my favorite memories include multiple firsts for the foster children. I can not highlight one specific memory, but I have multiple favorites that all include: bright eyes, “Ooooos” and “Awwws,” smiles, laughter, and fun. A child’s first experience at the zoo, pool, movie theater, concert, Six Flags, shopping, fireworks, special birthdays, and Christmas. When a child becomes comfortable and feels safe enough to grab you and give you a hug. It is always a special memory when a child allows you to show them love, respect, and the appreciation they deserve.
What are you most looking forward to about becoming an Angels’ Arms house parent?
Once again, I cannot choose one thing I’m looking forward to. We are looking forward to moving into a home that is freshly painted and new to us. I am looking forward to my very own bathroom… lol. The little things I know! We love the location of the house and it will allow my kids to ride their bikes in the neighborhood safely. The new location will make my life easier due to the availability of daycare and after-school care because I am a full-time teacher too. So many things to look forward to, but the bottom line is the constant support and appreciation shown by so many in order to prove to these kiddos that people do care.
The greatest gift you can give us on our 20th birthday is the gift of school supplies! Help us celebrate 20 years of supporting foster families by making a $20 donation and help fulfill our kids’ school supply needs. We currently have 40 school-age children and teens living in our homes and they all need various school supplies ranging from crayons to graphing calculators. Our goal today is to raise $2,500 to ensure each child is equipped with all the resources they need to have a successful start to the school year, whether that’s in person or virtual.
Two ways to donate:
via our website, https://angelsarms.kindful.com/
Please note: In an effort to keep our families and supporters healthy, we’ve chosen to host a back to school fundraiser instead of collecting school supplies. This method will allow us to directly distribute gift cards to our foster families and allow them to purchase the school supplies themselves through online deliveries and curbside pick up. Thank you in advance for your support
With the uncertainty revolving around the upcoming school year, we are anticipating most of the 55 children living in our 13 homes to be learning from home.
Wish list ➡️ https://a.co/d2A5qfl
The wish list above is comprised of electronics that our families have specifically requested in order to help with their homeschooling. We hope you will consider purchasing something from this wish list or even making a donation via our website. If you do purchase something from our wish list, please sign your name on the card so we can thank you properly.
For most of our homes, this virtual learning presents new problems we have never faced before. “With 7 children having to quarantine for 14 days every time a child is exposed, we would never be allowed to leave home between school and family visits,” says one of our foster parents. “I already have a child at home quarantined. We are forced into total virtual education again.” We are grateful that our families are healthy and safe, but this is brand new terrain that the children and parents living in our homes will have to learn to navigate. We hope to provide some assistance during these trying times.
To avoid group gatherings and the contact required of walk-ins and drop-offs, all donations will be conducted online and handled via shipping services. We are not accepting used donations at this time. We hope for your understanding of our decision to maintain reasonable distance and protection of one another.
Like many of you, we have witnessed the protest and community unrest over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Angels’ Arms would like to express our sincerest condolences to those families. Angels’ Arms cares deeply about the foster parents, children and the communities we serve. We hurt for black and brown people and the pain they have endured and continue to endure.
In the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color, we are reminded of the inequalities these communities have faced and continue to face. Angels’ Arms stands against racism, police brutality and all forms of injustice. Angels’ Arms also stands alongside those brave enough to serve and protect our communities honorably and who are left to answer for those who do not. We are grateful for all of our supporters who stand with us and are demanding change.
Angels’ Arms is committed to this change and to creating more opportunities for foster children and youth, families and communities of color. These communities experience daily undiagnosed trauma with no real outlet or escape. We are engaging in internal reflection and change that moves through our board, our staff, and our families. We are diversifying our Board of Directors and our Junior Board. We are engaging in real discussion with our supporters and our staff. We are extending our outreach to even more communities in St. Louis City and County, as well as St. Charles and other surrounding areas.
We would like to do more. We are open to listening and learning all we can do to help make some much-needed change happen through dialogue, and more importantly, through action. We invite you to join us as we continue to strive for change. All of us share the responsibility to understand why the playing field is not level for people of color, and how we can help to level it out.
Things here at Angels’ Arms are always changing and evolving. As mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, this summer has been dedicated to transitioning several of our homes. Just last week we welcomed the newest residents in one of our St. Louis City homes, the McDevitt’s.
Mary and Jim McDevitt have been fostering for over seven years and they focus on caring for infants with medical needs. They’ve dedicated their lives to helping foster children and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the Angels’ Arms family.
“We are overjoyed to be members of the Angels’ Arms family,” says Mary McDevitt. “We look forward to continuing to serve our community by providing a safe and loving home while partnering with community members. The children are the real winners when we all come together with love to serve them. I know the children in our home will grow in so many ways as they see how much those in the community love them. We look forward to supportive relationships with like-minded families whom we can help support and draw strength from as well.”
*A fun-fact about our new family: Mary used to work at Professor Bear’s Daycare in St. Louis City, and she was a caregiver for none other than Abbey, our Communications Coordinator. What a small world!*
Thank you to the following businesses and individuals who helped the McDevitt family move and transition into their new home with Angels’ Arms:
- Two Men and a Truck for once again donating four men and two trucks to help move this family into their new home
- Jim and Maggie Lang for donating a washer and dryer
- Mary Rateman for donating a recliner/ rocking chair to help rock the babies to sleep
- The countless volunteers that have turned this house into a home by painting almost every room in the house, cleaning the floors and sprucing up the yard
- Last, but most certainly not least, a special shout out to our Maintenance Manager Tom for contributing innumerable hours working on this house to get it ready for this new loving family. Tom worked on weekends and even into the evenings several times making sure everything was in tip-top shape
In addition to assisting our 12 families and older youth/young adults, we are helping four large, local foster families (24 children total) being cared for by single mothers who have been carefully screened and are in dire need of assistance. Please consider purchasing any of these items and dropping them off at the office. While we can’t have visitors, you can ring the bell, and we’ll get the items from your car to the garage. Here are the following items we are looking for:
House hold essentials:
- Twin bed sheets
- Laundry detergent (name brand)
- Toilet paper
- Frozen meals
- Eggo Waffles
- Frozen meat (burger patties, chicken breast)
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Activity books
- Water toys
- Swim diapers
- Yard games
Anne Fisher, Tonja and Cathy Miller have all dedicated their lives to helping children and youth in foster care. The dynamic mother-daughter(s) duo of Tonja and Anne have been a staple in Angels’ Arms’ history and mission. Now, Cathy will be moving into Anne’s Angels’ Arms home as Anne transitions out of fostering children.
Cathy has been fostering children for two years, but started out as a license respite provider. She has been around the fostering community for 14 years – ever since her mom, Anne, started fostering. Cathy currently has three girls living in her home. Although not an “official” Angels’ Arms house parent until recently, Cathy and the foster children she takes care of have already been part of the Angels’ Arms family for several years.
“Ever since I met Miss Bess, she opened her arms up to me and accepted me as already part of this family,” says Cathy.
Cathy has been involved in Angels’ Arms events, shopped for supplies in our garage and attended multiple family activities.
“Angels’ Arms is exactly as the titles states,” says Cathy. “They open their arms to anyone and everyone to offer support. It’s been the biggest blessing.”
We’re so lucky to have an entire family of dedicated foster parents in our organization.
Anne spent seven years with Angels’ Arms from 2012-2020, but has been fostering children in need for about 15 years. During her time at Angels’ Arms, Anne took in 25 children who she loved and treated as her own. “I’m so blessed and thankful…,” says Anne. “Thank you Angels’ Arms.”
Tonja fostered 19 youth during her two years with Angels’ Arms. Many of the children she helped, were involved in our Life Launch program. Tonja, along with Angels’ Arms, helped provide tutoring resources for those who needed an extra help in class among a myriad of other forms of support.
There has been a whirlwind of changes here at Angels’ Arms over the past few months – as our friend Olaf from Frozen would say, “all good things, all good things!” We are in the process of transitioning three of our homes for new families. During this season of change, we have gotten to know several amazing families who are doing such wonderful things to improve the lives of foster children. There are two new families we have selected that will be joining the Angels’ Arms family. Introducing our newest house parents:
Lawreene and Will Hall will be the newest parents living in one of our South County homes. The Hall’s have fostered for over six years and have five foster children with them currently, four of whom are siblings. They take elevated needs children and are in the process of completing their therapeutic classes.
- Greentree Community Church for helping our Maintenance Manager, Tom, stain the deck, paint, install flooring and everything in between
- Tim Mitchell for also helping Tom install new flooring
- Judy Kriete and Joe Robideau for painting the master bedroom and inside of the closets
- Two Men and a Truck for donating their services to help move everything from one home to another
- Marnie Clawson, Chris Madison and Linda Marino Adair for donating to our Wish Wednesday fundraiser on Facebook so the Hall’s can get an outdoor play set for their children to enjoy
- Even some of the youth in our Life Launch program stepped up to help Tom move heavy furniture from one home to another
“Living at the Launch Pad has been nothing short of a blessing for me. Angels’ Arms has provided an abundant amount of resources and support to set me up for success. I will forever be grateful for my Angels’ Arms family. Now it is time for me to spread my wings!” – Hannah Lively
Hannah has been part of Angels’ Arms since she was 14 years old; she will be turning 21 this month and we are so excited for her to be moving out on her own! Everyone knows how scary it can be to move out and live independently for the first time. Hannah is a responsible and mature young woman, and we know she will do great things. We want her to be successful and help her furnish her new place. Since we’re all staying at home and the majority of us are cleaning our houses during this quarantine, we are hoping some of our supporters have found they not longer need that couch that’s taking up space in the basement or that old coffee table you forgot you had.
- Couch(es) – L or sectional if possible (Donated by Jen Wallner)
- Coffee table
- End tables
- Dresser set (Donated)
- Small dining table and 4 chairs
- Washer and Dryer
“While we will miss seeing her smiling face every day, we are so excited to see Hannah take on this next step in life,” says Cat, Life Launch Coordinator. “So many youth are not ready to live independently when they age out of the foster care system at 21, but Hannah is the perfect example of how resiliency and on-going support can get our young adults in foster care on to that next step.”
Hannah is able to pick up furniture from your home between now and Monday, 4/20. The pick ups will be contactless (ie. leave furniture outside and Hannah will get it). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule pick ups if you would like to donate any of the above items. Thank you in advance for our continued support of our youth.