We have discussed on many occasions my love for Tarleton State University and how it not only served me as a student while I was enrolled, it has continued to serve me now as an alum. I can still remember the day I called my mom, bored out of my gourd, because even with a full load of classes and 30ish hours a week at Wal-Mart, I had more free time than I knew what to do with. Of course that wasn’t an issue for long, we all know I earned my A in socializing through hours of dedicated hardwork, and a good bit of those relationships are still part of my life today.
When I landed at Texas State for grad school I really didn’t know anyone other than my two roommates who were determined to not socialize anymore than absolutely necessary. I started a job and almost two weeks to the day I started, the restaurant filed for bankruptcy and I was once again on the hunt. I was able to find a couple of gigs here and there, maxed out my student loan withdraw, and finally got a job working with high school students on their college aspirations. Through this job I was introduced to Rob “Big Daddy” Rodriguez.
I had never in my life met someone so full of life, so selflessly devoted to the enrichment of others, and so passionate about a cause. I had no experience with adoption or foster care, but this man made me want to jump in with everything I had and help. His charisma, charm, and chaos hooked me on whatever he was working on because I desperately needed purpose in my life and Rob needed bodies.
According to Family4life.org here are a few statistics on foster children:
- There are over 580,000 children in foster care across the United States.
- 65% – 85% of children entering the foster care system have at least one sibling.
- 30% of children in foster care have four siblings or more.
- 75% of siblings end up apart when they enter foster care.
Did you know that? Can you even imagine entering into foster care without your brother or sister? Sheltered and naive is an understatement, but once Rob opened my eyes to this need I knew I had to get involved. The coolest part of this organization, in my opinion, is how they serve the children they work with – Camp Family4Life!
It is the goal of Camp Family 4 Life to foster positive sibling connection. We create situations where children can experience positive, self-affirming childhood events and activities. We schedule family trips to the movies, bowling and enable them to celebrate birthdays and holidays together when possible. We realize that many children haven’t had the chance to be with their siblings during these times or their lives we interrupted by abuse and neglect. The sibling connection is taken for granted by many of us who have not been separated by the system. We are dedicated to understanding these events as times to heal in the sometimes turbulent relationship between siblings.
As you can imagine, the children effected by fostering are in need of all of the TLC that they can get so each child is partnered with a Buddy that has the sole responsibility of providing support and encouragement through the weekend. Also on staff is the Care Team which is comprised of a Licensed Therapist, A Registered Nurse, and other experienced professionals trained in handling crises situations. The Care Team serves as a support and intervention resource and tool for siblings struggling to communicate with one another or experiencing difficulty with the reunification or transition process.
So how can you help? The needs of the organization can be found HERE. Donations are tax deductible, and the list of physical items ranges from gift cards to sleeping bags to basic office supplies. No one should have to use words like “turbulent”, “separated”, and “neglect” to describe their childhood. I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a Buddy and to be auxiliary help through a couple of camps, believe me when I say that a little goes a long way in helping these children. Believe it or not, there are worse things in the world than terminal disease, ALS, and death.
“One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.” – Lewis Carroll