Being Intentional: What do Balloons, Rocks and Triangles have to to with Foster Care?

Donation cardI chose to volunteer with The CALL because I believe God wants us to be made aware of issues that are too big for us to handle on our own.  I first was made aware of the need for foster families through The CALL speaking at a women’s event at my church. We need to care, and I think The CALL gave me a great venue to do that in my area. Each year that I attend the Restoring Hope banquet I am reminded of why I continue to serve with The CALL of Crawford and Sebastian Counties.

The Grace Community venue and decorations handmade by various volunteers were beautiful A custom video designed by Branchout Studios, the personal testimony of a college student who once was in care, and the thoughts of a foster Mom who has benefited from The CALL supporting them through their journey helped set up reasons why attendees should choose to donate. While words were intentional, little known was the amount of thought that went into the design and decoration of the event. Gentry Duncan, owner of Sockdolager Events, Emily Treadaway, County Coordinator, and several volunteers spent late hours Wednesday preparing the event space.

One thing I loved about the decorations is while they were beautiful, they cup with rockswere also intentional. While the rocks were beautiful accent pieces, the goal was not just beauty.  During the program they were used to make us realize that together we can make a difference in a child’s life by helping provide support for those who love them. Each table had cups and the cups had names of children on them. No matter the intentions of the Foster Family, Foster care and entry into the system can be scary. As an adult I don’t like change, imagine being a young child leaving all that is familiar.

 Hannah Bush, Financial Coordinator and member of the local Advisory Council, went through a series of ways you can help both big and small. For example, what I do is relatively small but it is still a rock in the cup to support a foster family and ultimately the child in care. I join the team in gathering items for the silent auction which helps provide more funds to support our goal of mobilizing area churches to recruit, train and support foster families in our community. As Hannah continued to mention things you can do to help, it was obvious at our table that there was something we could all do causing the water in our cup to reach to the top.

The top in the illustration is glorifying God by His people (the church) working together to support those providing safe loving homes to children and in many cases being the ones opening their homes. Homes where the child can continue to flourish and grow, rather it be forever or a temporary situation.  Next, the balloons, while they added dimension to the room, they also had children and stories attached to them that people could read. roomGuests were encouraged to take a balloon home and pray for children in care.  Last but not least the triangular structures on the table. While geometric is definitely trending right now, we also know triangles are said to be the strongest shape, we are a community who knows that good things come in threes. First and foremost- we worship the triune God- one God yet three persons: the Father, son, and Holy Spirit!

Secondly we see many great relationships that come in threes, the Church, the Foster Family (child), and The CALL, also The CALL, DCFS, and the Foster Family (child), and lastly, the child, the foster family, and the biological family. We do not discount the original family structure – we pray for our bio families and our foster families are trained to consider that reunification, if possible, is a top desire.

While you may not be ready to foster, you may be able to help in other ways! Reach out to Emily at The CALL in Crawford and Sebastian Counties to find out more ways you can serve!

-Chelsea Sheffield, Event Coordinator

The CALL Support Center

pictureA year ago, this coming November, we met with representatives from Mercy Hospital to discuss the potential use of one of their properties. Right across from Central Mall in a quite, tree lined neighborhood, they owned three houses. They were originally kept for visiting doctors to stay in but one property wasn’t in use any longer. They affectionately called this house on Ellsworth Road, the Baggot Street House. Named after the original property in Dublin, Ireland which was a refuge for distressed women and which later became the Convent of Mercy.

They told us how, in the 1800’s, Catherine McAuley was gifted the property and began to use it to care for the poor in southeast Dublin. She taught disadvantaged children, nursed the sick and housed needy women in her community. The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy grew out of Catherine’s work and in the 1980’s interest in the original house increased and the Sisters of Mercy began an international restoration project. Today, Catherine’s spirit lives on in The CALL Support Center, or as our friends from Mercy call it, the Baggot Street House, right here in Ft Smith.

Mercy wanted to continue Catherine’s original work of providing for the disadvantaged. They reached out to The CALL because they knew we were already working with some of the most disadvantaged in our community, children and youth in foster care. They wanted to provide a a clean and safe place for DHS to conduct visitations between children and their families. A collaboration between Mercy, DHS and The CALL was born, that would allow us to have our office space and The CALL Mall in one location while we would provide upkeep and furnish the house for visits.

We moved in last November and began to schedule visits in January of 2019. So far, we have had over 100 visits! The response we get from the

visiting families is that they are happy to have a space that feels like home. They come in, hang out in the backyard, make a cup of coffee and even cook breakfast while they visit with their children. Some children come to visit with their biological families and they come with their foster family to get diapers or frozen meals from The CALL Mall. This helps the children feel comfortable and secure, in a familiar place.

Our partners at DHS also enjoy the Support Center, Michelle Tenny, PA said,

“Before places like The Call, we were having visits at the DHS office, fast food restaurants, and parks. These places did not allow for quality family time. Parents are more comfortable and prefer The Call. I’ve noticed they are more confident with their parenting skills while in a home setting and have more opportunities for learning parenting skills. I’ve also noticed kids are more comfortable. In short, The Call is a wonderful place and has helped this community enormously. I know that I am extremely grateful for this home and the wonderful ladies that work there.”

The CALL Support Center also provides a way for churches, individuals and businesses to directly impact their community. By volunteering or donating you can directly be a part of what The CALL, Mercy and DHS are doing to help disadvantaged children, youth and families in our community. The work of The CALL is 100% privately funded and largely done through volunteers. If you would like to know more about what we do, I encourage you to attend our 7th Annual Restoring Hope Fundraiser Banquet on October 3rd.

For registration information contact crawfordsebastian@thecallinarkansas.org

The Yancey’s Why

What's Your Why?

Here is “the why” Lisa and I started down the road to foster and adopt.

We knew a couple who had fostered as well as adopted children through The CALL so we were aware of how the system worked.

This couple had a couple of boys in their care and they were up for adoption and at the time no one wanted them. We began to be convicted about the fact that we had so much to offer and were not offering it to children in need of the love that we shared.

We started the process of classes required to open our house and got the ball rolling. This process included having to be certified in CPR and first aid, this alone resulted in me being able to save someone’s life later down the road.

We were camping with what would soon become our two forever boys at Calico Rock, trout fishing with an old friend that I had worked for many years ago, That evening during supper my friend became choked on a piece of meat. I at first thought he had excused himself from the table because he was only coughing. I soon realized when a few moments later he was turning red and waving frantically for me to come and help. We had just recertified after our first year of CPR and first aid a few days prior to this trip, so the Heimlich maneuver was fresh in my mind and without even thinking I was able to dislodge the piece of meat from my friends airway and the first of many lives was changed because of our dealings with the Call.

We met the two little boys that are now my sons at church on Mother’s Day three years ago now. Our Pastor and his wife have a son and daughter in law that foster through The CALL and were visiting our church because of Mother’s Day, when they came in with these two little boys whose faces were glowing with love. I will never forget the look on the youngest ones face, then only two at the time. When they took his little hand and asked him if he wanted to go to children’s church in the back.   His foster mother knew that we had tried in the past to adopt a couple of different times and for one reason or another the process fell through, turned to my wife Lisa and whispered, “they’re up for adoption.”

It was at that moment that we felt that we had just met our new family and after a few short weeks they were in our home for visits and soon to stay.

We began the process to adopt and things were going well for all of us. For one reason or another the final adoption kept getting moved back and we couldn’t understand why.

Then one morning, at the end of the oldest son’s first week of school I awoke to the most life changing event that I have ever experienced. My wife Lisa didn’t wake up that morning, the result of a massive heart attack while we slept. There are no words to describe or try and explain how lost and devastated I was at and from that moment on.

The picture of beauty and health, never sick a day in her life. Lisa’s whole life had revolved around taking care of me and these two precious little boys.

When this happened my Father said, “what about those two little boys?” It was at that moment that I knew that I had to do whatever I could to see that they were taken care of and, if the judge would allow it, I would proceed with the adoption.

Well almost a year has passed now since that tragic morning and I am, for the first time, able to sit down and tell the story of my “Why.” I wouldn’t have ever thought that it would have turned out like this but I now have a home full of love with two little boys that now have my last name and the memory of the love given to us by the greatest Wife and Mother I and my two sons could have ever asked for.

Don’t be afraid to answer the CALL!

Mike and Lisa Yancey

Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party

Sugar Plum

Several of our families were blessed with opportunity to attend the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea party hosted by the Western Arkansas Ballet. Our little girls dressed up, made crafts, had their pictures taken and ate sugary sweets with the ballerinas. I can’t show all the pictures of our kids that are in care but one of our families shared a picture of her daughter at the event. The kids had such a fun time and the parents were so grateful to have the experience.Sugar Plum crafts

Opportunities like this could be once in a lifetime for a child or youth in care. We are very grateful to WAB for providing the tickets and to our families for taking them to the event. There is a often a lot of focus on gifts for the kids at Christmas but I think letting them have experiences is worth more than a toy. A toy only last for a moment, but a memory can last a lifetime. What a fun way to start the Holidays and ring in the New Year!

Movie Date

Movie Night

Lights, Camera, Action, we’re going to the movies! Because of our generous donors and supports The CALL in Crawford & Sebastian was able to rent a screen at Malco Theaters for our families. We were able to serve over 80 families with a ticket, coke and popcorn.Group Photo

We were inspired by the new movie Instant Family, starring Mark Wahlberg. It’s about a couple who decides to adopt and during the process, they end up with 3 kids and the hilarity ensues. The movie, while light hearted, touched on very real issues and handled the ups and downs of adopting fairly accurately. Our families were very impressed with the truthful representation of this adoptive family, the kids and the process. There was not a dry eye in the house so I would recommend tissues!

Again, we’d like to thank our donors for providing the funds for us to do this event. Our families loved it and are looking forward to doing something like this again.Instant Family