(God Provides Solutions)
G.P.S. is a combination of programs directed towards children in the local foster care system. Each program meets a specific need. Route Replenish and Kitchens TLC show the kids they are not forgotten and they are worthy of attention. Our Mentoring and Work Experience programs invest directly into their future, helping them to successfully transition from the foster care system into adulthood.
To children in the state's custody even the smallest kindness, like bringing a weekly snack, means "You are not forgotten." These consistent visits show the kids they are thought of and valued.
Through Route Replenish, volunteers faithfully provide weekly care packages of nutritious snacks. This donation program ministers to the left-behind kids living in youth crisis shelters, safe houses, and CYFD protective custody and processing centers around the city.
This program also opens the door to our other programs and shows the kids that God not only meets their basics needs, but He brings blessings as well.
"Me and a few other grandparent aged men and women provide a meal every week for a youth shelter in our city. These left behind non-adopted, non-fostered, usually sarcastic and rebellious teens, just love when we come. They try and figure out why we think they are important enough for us to return every week with a great meal for them. We just point to them when they ask that question and say, ”Because you are important and worthy of our love."
Kitchens TLC Locally
Kitchen's TLC (Kitchens That Love Children) is a wonderful community partnership designed to bless the orphaned child. Through it, local businesses are able to donate food or make a monetary gift to provide a fun and engaging dinner event.
Our generous restaurant partners or private donors volunteer to be on a weekly rotation to provide a hearty meal to youth crisis shelters and safe homes throughout the city. Delivery of these meals is facilitated by our GPS team volunteers who fellowship and mentor the youth during these "family gatherings".
Finally, we not only give them food for the body, but each child is offered a Bible, the true Bread of Life.
"The greatest obstacle for me is getting myself, my pride and my selfishness out of the way that I might do more and make a greater difference while I still can. With this mindset I see my time on earth as more valuable, no time for pride or self pity or depression or any of the many other things that can beset us in this life if we let them."
"Being involved in the Friends of the Fatherless outreaches has helped our church to become more involved in serving the local community, especially the abandoned teens in our city. We have become more aware, more active and more attentive to the needs of orphaned children."
"These kids respond to true love. In addition to a weekly meal and snacks, we also find places for them to work, give music/voice lessons, and give them rides were they need to go. Since each kid usually has a horrific background of abuse and abandonment, we serve as surrogate grandparents and uncles and aunts that care. They've experienced a very rough road in life, usually at a very young age, and when they finally connect and really know we care, then beautiful things happen for them."
The following statistics about children who age out of the foster care system are taken from a television documentary. In our experience with the GPS program, this rings true.
Each year roughly 30,000 children exit the foster care system when they reach the age of eighteen. It is one of the saddest things you can imagine. To see these children, who were never adopted, reach this point without being taken into a family. Now they have no one. Without help or guidance they must find a place to live. They have to somehow secure transportation. They need to find a job or navigate pursuing an education. Being thrust from the state's care most of them have known their whole life, they are now facing life decisions by themselves with no support and no security blanket.
Who will these children call when things get tough and they need help? Where will they go for Christmas and Thanksgiving? Who will celebrate them on their birthday? Even more tragic is that for the rest of their life they will have no mom or dad to call on for advice, support, or encouragement. Sadly, these children at such a young age, are now on their own.
Aging out of foster care is a dismal time for the children who were never taken in by a family. Statistics show that by the age of twenty five less than half of the kids who age out of the system are employed. More than 80% of young men have been arrested and 68% of young women are dependant on state welfare programs.
With each passing day these kids come closer and closer to the day where the foster care system will no longer care for them. But you can make a difference.
GPS is a perfect place for God's people to prove their love with actions. At Friends of the Fatherless, we continue to build programs to help the left behind, at risk teens who live in these shelters. Our hope is that an army of "doers" will rise up and embrace these children before it is too late.
May God pour out upon us a spirit of determination to make a difference! Won't you be among those who will raise a helping hand and a loving heart?