420,000 kids in need of a MOM!

The month of May brings the start of the summer season – new growth and life is all around; kids are finishing up the school year and everyone is looking forward to a summer filled with fun.  Mother’s Day, quite appropriately, is in the month of May, reminding all of us how important the love and support of our moms are in our lives.  My mom – who did an unbelievable job of parenting and raising eight children – has been gone now for over 7 years.  I still think of her every day, and I am so grateful to her for dedicating her heart and soul to her family, and to me.

May is also National Foster Care Month, established by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.  Its original focus was to give foster parents the recognition they deserve for opening their hearts and homes to children in foster care. I think it’s so appropriate that May is a time to celebrate both Mother’s Day and Foster Care Month.

At Arizona Helping Hands, each and every day, we meet amazing moms (and dads) who choose to go the extra mile, to change their lives for fragile boys and girls who don’t have the love and support of moms like mine.  The life of a child who has been traumatized by abuse and neglect can truly be enriched by that one caring adult, that unique and special individual who steps up to say, “You are special, you are loved!”

Moms are the emotional backbones of a family. They provide the structure, the love, the encouragement to help their children succeed.  I think of moms like Victoria, who has fostered 39 children.   I know for a fact that the children in her home have been blessed by having her as their mom.  She has been a saving grace for damaged and hurting boys and girls who, without her, may not be with us today.  Her role as a foster mom has provided stability and love to children who were crying out for help.

I have so many stories to share of the love that foster moms provide to kids in need.  I think of the young woman who recently came to us for support when she received her third foster placement.  She gives all of her love and support to the babies who are placed in her care, fully knowing that they could be with her for just days, maybe for weeks, or possibly for a lifetime.  She doesn’t hesitate to invest every fiber of her being to support each and every child who comes into her care.  She never holds back, knowing that a baby she has grown to love with every piece of her heart could be gone tomorrow.  Rather, she takes the risk, she invests herself fully and she provides love and support to make one child’s life just a little bit better.

This is the challenge for every foster parent.  You have to take the risk, to make the commitment, knowing that if it is a moment, or a lifetime, you have helped a child.  You have loved, cared, and changed the life of a boy or girl in need.

I send wishes to every mom for a Happy Mother’s Day.  Your compassion and love will stay with your child for their entire lives.  A very special Happy Mother’s Day to every foster mom.  Latest statistics show that there are 420,000+ kids in foster care in the United States.  So many kids who are in need of a Mom like Victoria to love them.  Please know that the risk that you take is worth it.  No matter the duration, you will be remembered, appreciated and treasured.  Like my amazing mother, the love and commitment you make to the child in your care will never be forgotten.  Thank you Foster Moms, Adoptive Moms, and all Moms.

Robert Brault writes:  “There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child – and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.” Thanks to all moms who give their love to children who need it so desperately.   Happy Mother’s Day!

Dan Shufelt is the President & CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more about the Organization at www.azhelpinghands.org and contact Dan at dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org

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