Another benefit of Covid was the reality that everyone had time to clean out their closets, but nobody was receiving donations!
We took advantage of this opportunity to create the “Connection Closet”.
This kinship family and I received donations, washed them, organized them, rented a storage unit, and assembled shelving to provide a space to keep gently used clothing for kinship kids!
27 kids and counting have been recipients of this program!
If you have new or gently used clothing to donate, email email@example.com for details around drop off!
One of the best things about running a non-profit is seeing the BEST of people. This is a story about just that.
I have a caregiver who raises her niece and nephew. She recently graduated from a Master’s Program and purchased a sewing machine for herself to celebrate. She had always wanted to learn to sew. She reached out to me, asking if I might be able to locate another one for her niece, so they could learn and sew together.
I did what I always do in these situations, and I reached out to my neighborhood Facebook groups. Quickly, I had a response, and I was off to pick up an old Bernina machine. Bernina’s are excellent machines, but this one was old.
I wanted to confirm that it still worked well, so I took it to the local sewing machine dealer to have them look at it. They checked it out, and let me know that the pedal would need to be replaced, and it would cost $350. The machine was solid, but it was expensive to replace the parts.
I explained that I ran a non-profit and we did not have enough to cover the expense. I thanked them, and asked if they could use the machine for parts. They said they could, and we cordially parted ways.
The next day, the salesperson I talked to called me back. He said he would like to trade me for the donation, and that he was sure he could find another machine that would be suitable for the young lady.
We arranged a pickup date, and I was thrilled!
When I went to pick up the machine, the shop gave me a brand new beginner Bernadette machine, worth $500.
It was so amazing!
The man did not have to call me back with that offer, but they wanted to be a part of supporting caregivers in their way!
There are many generous humans in the world, and we are thankful to be able to see it in action!
Kinship Connection has just finished its Covid Grocery Delivery program. We have filled over 150 requests for groceries, diapers/formula, clothing, headphones for kids, and more!
It has been a difficult year for all of us, but it was such a highlight seeing these smiles and sometimes tears of joy, feeling supported in a tough season. It is not over for these caregivers, but they were blessed with this boost of encouragement whenever they needed it.
Kinship Connection wanted this benefit to be a representation of healthy help to encourage respect and humanity in a fractured world. We attempted to do this by encouraging families to request what they needed instead of providing them what we thought they needed. This made the effort more tedious, as we shopped each week with individual lists; but we hope and believe it added healing value to the provision for these families.
Kinship will continue to provide gift cards for grocery items to families in emergency situations. If you would like to contribute toward this donate here or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where to drop off gift cards.
When COVID19 came upon us, I joined the world of disappointment when so many of my plans for Kinship Connection changed without warning. There was a big event scheduled, that would have provided a significant opportunity to connect with many Kinship Caregivers; but, it was cancelled. A second event was postponed that would have given me an opportunity to connect with many important people in the Child Welfare arena. I felt deflated of passion, and wondered if this idea of mine was worth pursuing.
Just prior to COVID19 I became aware of a Kinship Collaborators group that had been meeting to share resources and ideas on how best to serve Kinship Caregivers. I went to two meetings in person, before they moved to a virtual model. I admit I was humbled to realize that this idea of serving Kinship Caregivers was not original (in Washington) with me. This group, which consisted of Kinship Support Group leaders and several Kinship Caregivers, had been doing this work for some time; and I would be joining my betters and learning from them.
As time continues to pass, support group leaders report that some caregivers are struggling to stay upbeat. Older caregivers' energy wanes as the kids' schooling and entertaining grows tiresome. Younger caregivers juggle working remotely in a small space with little ones' endless needs. And of course, finding time to shop for needs and prepare meals is harder than ever, not to mention the significant health risks that shopping brings to an older caregiver. Considering the life of the child if the caregiver fell to COVID19 is dire.
My connection with this blessed group of people has rekindled my passion. As a non-profit, my funding comes from donors and grants. I have not had the opportunity to do much connecting on that front, but I am blessed to currently have nearly zero overhead costs. So, the contributions that got me started are able to be used solely for the needs of these caregivers. It blesses me to listen to the needs, and fill the gaps as often as I am able. One of these things is to deliver weekly groceries to caregivers who can't leave their home. Each week, on my deliveries, I am connected to another Kinship Caregiver, or two, or three. I see their smiling faces, and watch as their kids help to carry in the delivery that I set on their doorstep. They smile and wave, expressing gratitude with an air hug.
Eventually the funds will dwindle away, if I do not ask for help. This is the most difficult part of running a non-profit for someone like myself. But the reality is, I need help on every level. I needed help to understand the real needs through the Kinship Collaboration group. Through this group, I have been able to regain passion and rise above disappointment. This is what community provides. The Collaboration Group provided the awareness of the needs. I can meet some, and am lifted in spirit. Kinship Caregivers are vulnerable and willing to share their needs. I can meet some, and am lifted in spirit. I am learning that part of community is sharing our needs, so that others can meet some and be lifted in spirit. I need you, and so do the kinship caregivers and their children. We need funds. We need donations. And we need encouragement and reminders not to give into negative thinking. Do you have something to offer?
The following are ways Kinship Connection is serving Caregivers during this pandemic. Consider if you can take part, and have your spirits lifted.
Please connect with me if you have a donation, or funds, or time for delivery. It will lift you during this hard season. I promise.
Christmas came for Kinship Connection, thanks to special donations from the community!
6 families, including 12 children of Kinship Caregivers, were served. Gift cards were contributed, clothes were purchased and donated, and even a table and chairs (bottom photo) were procured for a Kinship auntie that loves to host family events!
We are so thankful for our donors who helped our young organization make these families feel supported and loved this Christmas.
We need your continued encouragement and support, as we work to serve a very large community of Kinship Caregivers in our state.
This photo was taken last year at the Refresh Conference (https://therefreshconference.org/). It is a picture of myself (Joy) and my dear friend, Amelia, who is a kinship caregiver.
Amelia is caring for her little brother, who was my foster son. I invited her to join me at a conference where she could get some training, specific to dealing with the challenges that her new “son” would be encountering.
He would have many big behaviors, due to the trauma of moving several times before he ended up with her family. Attending these trainings sparked many conversations between us, about Amelia’s brother’s challenges, and even encouraged her to work through some trauma that she had as well.
We came to the conclusion that Kinship Caregivers need to have awareness of and access to conferences like Refresh. A year later, Kinship Connection has been birthed and has grown into a 501c3, non-profit corporation.
We are looking forward to providing a way for 6-8 Kinship Caregivers to come to the @Refresh Conference this year, free of charge, with childcare included. We will have a connecting place for the caregivers to meet one another and appreciate that they are not alone.
I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to connect with Amelia, and I pray that Kinship Connection is able to encourage many kinship caregivers in the coming years.