By Nancy Price
About two years ago, Center Grove resident Summer Huber realized there was little support for foster families in Johnson County. Often, children show up at their new foster homes with little but the clothing on their backs. Some may have been victims of sexual or physical abuse, or struggle with suicidal ideation. The experience for both foster parents and children can feel lonely and overwhelming.
Huber and another acquaintance saw a need in their community and decided to do something about it. They started Resources of Hope (ROH) a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, to meet the physical and emotional needs of foster youth living in central Indiana. Initially, before becoming a nonprofit, ROH started as a clothing closet, then expanded to include training and support groups.
CREATING A COMMUNITY
“One of the biggest things is just creating that community of others who are going through similar situations,” said Huber, founder and executive director of ROH. “You might have support from family and church members, but until you are connected with a community of others who are going through a similar situation, sometimes you feel the support, but you also feel isolated because they can’t fully understand the challenges that you experience as a family, the heartache that when you have to say goodbye to a child, and so having someone that you can relate to you on that level of a foster parent has been really awesome.”
“Foster families can’t do this amazing, hard journey alone,” added Sarah Weber, a foster parent from Columbus who’s been helped by ROH. “Having an organization to turn to in those moments of need, whether physical or emotional, is so encouraging.”
Located in Whiteland, ROH offers foster parent and community trainings, such as suicide and sexual abuse prevention, CPR/AED and First Aid; Morning Meet-Up, a support group for foster parents, Safe Family hosts and kinship/guardianship care; an annual Foster Family Back to School Bash; Recharge, an afternoon off for local foster parents; Birthday Blessings; and Teen Connect.
Birthday Blessings, which started in February, “is one of our newest programs that’s been huge for a lot of families,” Huber said. Birthday Blessings relies on donated gifts and financial contributions so that a foster child may receive either pajamas or a new outfit and a gift valued at $25. Birthdays and other special days can be challenging for foster children because “they’re not necessarily with their real family. We want to help make that day special, giving an extra gift to a child that is going through a hard time,” Huber added.
The Teen Connect program is for youth either in foster care, adopted or in a kinship placement for those ages 12-17. “The second Friday the boys meet, and the fourth Friday the girls meet, and we have quarterly coed meetings,” said Ranae Furnee, a Center Grove resident and executive assistant with ROH. “We have all different kinds of events, from making wood kits to doing our nails to sporting events to self-defense classes; we even painted pumpkins. There are adult mentors that lead these classes. We just want to be an arm of support for these kids that need it.”
“They are very supportive,” said a foster teen, a Center Grove High School sophomore who attends Teen Connect. “It’s just a really good place to come and relax for a few hours and talk to youth our age who have been through similar situations like us. It really gives us kids a time to really get to know each other. I’ve never had a place like this that I could to come to. It feels very safe.”
“Talking with girls from other similar backgrounds has definitely helped a lot,” added Kat Huber, a junior who also attends CGHS. Kat was previously in foster care and adopted by Summer Huber in March. “We all get together and hang out. Our backgrounds don’t really matter to us. I’ve met a lot of great girls through the program.”
Donna Kempf, a foster mom from Center Grove, said both of her adopted teenagers have participated in the Teen Connect activities. “Both of them frequently ask about and look forward to the next event,” she said. “I would consider Resources of Hope a critical part of our ability to adequately care for the children in our home. Their support and resources they supply are invaluable. We’ve even been blessed with volunteers bringing supplies directly to our home upon initial placement when we were unable to get out. This is unprecedented in any other business.”
ROH will be hosting an inaugural golf outing on Sept. 18. Proceeds benefit local foster kids. For more information, go to resourcesofhope.org/golf-tournament. To donate to ROH, please visit resourcesofhope.org.