Mentoring and Advocacy
You're not feeling called to bring a child into your home but want to get involved. What are some other ways to build relationships and make a difference in the lives of orphans and vulnerable kids? We'd love to connect you to some great opportunities in our community:
ADVOCATE FOR MICHIGAN FOSTER CHILDREN/TEENS WHO ARE WAITING TO FIND FOREVER FAMILIES:
Grant Me Hope is a local marketing initiative which aims to find older foster children adoptive homes before they age out of the foster care system. You can be a part of advocating for foster youth by sharing videos of the youth to expose them to potential adoptive families through social media or e-mail, or by donating funds for production of the videos. Click here to access Grant Me Hope's Facebook page, and commit to sharing videos of waiting youth once a week or once a month! Or visit Grant Me Hope's website to access all of their current videos and information.
COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES:
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a community-based program that recruits, trains and supports citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care. Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives. Most counties have a CASA program and are continually in need of volunteers. Volunteers commit to devoting 10-20 hours/month to their CASA role. Learn more about the Kent County CASA program by clicking here.
MENTORS FOR VULNERABLE/FOSTER YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS:
DA Blodgett/St. John's offers a variety of mentoring programs helping youth, aged 10-20, who are considered at-risk; this includes those in residential treatment and foster care, as well as those who have experienced other adverse childhood events (ACEs) known to disrupt healthy development. In addition, they serve young moms up to age 25 who need encouragement and support with parenting. Mentors invest 4-8 hours per month at a school, the mentor's place of work or in the community. Click here for more information on becoming a mentor in Kent County.
REFUGEE AND IMMIGRANT YOUTH MENTORING:
Many children and teens need someone to look up to and provide positive guidance in their lives. This rings especially true for two groups of youth: those in refugee and immigrant foster care and those aging out of foster care, many of whom need help obtaining practical skills as they work toward a life of independence. In this program, mentors commit to meeting with youth for at least 4 hours per month for one year. Click here to learn more about this Bethany Christian Services program.
SUPPORT FAMILIES FOR TEENS IN FOSTER CARE:
Even if you have no experience with foster care you can support a local youth in foster care, giving them a sense of normalcy and helping them to know they are not alone. In the Operation Forever Families support program, you will meet at least once a month with a teen for encouragement and typical family activities: Going to church, grocery shopping, sporting events, etc. This connection also gives you the unique role of ensuring these youth have the opportunity to engage with families who may consider adoption. For the foster care youth, this might mean going to a high school football game, a church event, or simply having dinner with friends. Learn more about Operation Forever Families by clicking here.
WOODFIELD COMMUNITY CENTER:
After some town hall meetings with our Woodfield neighbors we gained a better understanding of the needs in our community, and Kentwood Community Church has partnered with the owner and management of the apartments to develop the community center on the apartment complex property. Volunteers provide a safe nurturing place for vulnerable children and families, to strengthen relationships and hear Jesus lifted up. Woodfield Community Center is located at the Woodfield Apartments, just outside KCC's door. There are many summer opportunities, as well as a weekly after school program during the school year. Learn more about Woodfield Community Center on their Facebook page.