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.