Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Nov 15
2017

Supporting Families and Children in Foster Care

Community, Foster Care, Service, Stories of Grace | by Anne Johnson

“Take up the cause of the fatherless.” Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

November 12th was Orphan Sunday, a day when the Church stands up for the orphan. November is also National Adoption Month. As of July 2017, there were 1,460 children in foster care in King County, and about 8,800 children in foster care across the state of Washington (more statistics here). Our church family hopes to rally around these children and the families directly supporting them, bringing and being Christ to them in their isolation, fear, and uncertainty.

Caleb and Leah Gross, members of Downtown Cornerstone, have experienced first hand the joy, heartache, difficulty, and miracle of welcoming foster children into their home. Leah was familiar with foster care and adoption through her previous church and had a strong desire to be involved after seeing the great need for homes and foster parents. When they got married, Caleb was still getting used to the idea of foster care.

The Grosses reached out to us as we had gone through the process to become licensed and had been fostering for a short time. We shared our story of how God grew our desire to foster parent and our experiences with the fostering process. We met with Caleb and Leah a number of times over the course of several months. They helped care for our kiddos in foster care and brought us meals during transitions. It was remarkable to watch their hearts grow for children stuck in the foster system and become increasingly confident in God’s sovereignty and goodness for their life.

The Grosses became licensed through the state with relatively few hiccups and have since welcomed two kids into their home. When things got difficult, as they inevitably do, we met together, we encouraged one another, we cried together. We left that place more confident in the call to which Christ has called us.

“Is this the most comfortable or most convenient life? No. But if we’re followers of Christ, comfort isn’t the point at all. Rather joining in the work of bringing redemption and hope to the brokenness and darkness. In the meantime we are sanctified and are touched with new awareness of God’s love for us, His heart of mercy, and His compassion towards us. He is our good Father. If we get the honor of being a father or mother to those without, why wouldn’t we?”

Their story continues. The day in and day out of caring for children, going to appointments, attending court dates and bio-family visits, checking in with social workers, etc. We are here to support one another, spur one another on, and remind each other what Christ has done for us and the life for which He saved us.

DCC ENGAGEMENT

DCC has been engaging with the foster care system for a number of years. During the 2014 and 2016 Advent seasons, we ran clothing drives for the foster youth in King County. We collected over 1,000 pieces of clothing! These clothes were distributed to kids in need of comfort and necessities. Learn about opportunities to help support foster families this season here.

  • The Capitol Hill North Community supports a ‘Fostering Together’ support group by providing childcare and dinner every month to the foster families who attend.
  • The Foster Support Faith Alliance (FSFA) is a ministry of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. The FSFA connects local churches wanting to engage the foster care system with the agencies and foster families in need of volunteer service. I have the opportunity to represent DCC as well as facilitate the local chapter of FSFA. We partner with the King West Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) office which is less than a mile away from our church building. We’ve partnered with the office in numerous ways to support foster families, bio families, and social workers.
  • On September 30th, DCC hosted a Caregiver’s Evening Out event. Foster, adoptive and kinship care parents were able to enjoy an evening to themselves while we cared for their children. Thirty-five volunteers welcomed 40 children from 18 families, prepared dinner, played games, made crafts and tangibly loved these families involved in foster care. We were also able to provide goodie bags for all the parents. For various reasons, many of these families don’t have opportunities like these to take time for themselves. The families were so grateful and appreciative for the special night we helped facilitate for them!

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

“I could never do that”, “I want to but would get too attached”, “They are so lucky to have you”. Many people don’t understand who can or can’t become a foster parent or the multitude of other ways you can support the fostering community.

We are holding a Foster Care Info Session & Viewing on November 19th at 1pm and will share specific ways to get involved. We’ll also watch the ReMoved films to give insight into foster care and will have time for discussion and questions.

If you are interested in attending or would like to find out more about foster care opportunities, please contact Ben and Anne at mercy@downtowncornerstone.org.

For His glory,

Anne & Ben Johnson
DCC members & foster parents

Jan 13
2017

Foster Care Drive Recap: Loving Our City Well

Advent Drive, City Life, Foster Care, Service | by Deacon Jen Keogh

But you, God see the trouble of the afflicted. You consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” – Psalm 10:14

God sees our troubles and meets our needs. The Foster Care Drive provided tangible evidence of this simple yet profound truth. With over 375 items donated, including a cornucopia of T-rex hoodies, sparkly shirts, and cozy pjs, God’s love and provision for those in need was majestically on display.

As a potential mother of a foster care child who may one day enter my home, I was reminded that the many donations do not serve abstract children, but actual image-bearers. I praise God for the ways He’s used our church body to support and bless DSHS and the children in foster care!

Here are some of the responses we received from the coordinators we partnered with:

“I would like to thank you for all that you did for children in care, foster families, and social workers in 2016. I am so amazed at all the labor and love you have poured into the community. You have provided hope in the lives of those who may feel there is no hope left.”
– Jessica Hatch, Social and Heath Program Consultant at DSHS: Children’s Administration

“Thank you so much for your FAITHFUL, GENEROUS giving this Christmas season, [and for] your church’s involvement and dedication to these marginalized children and their hard-working foster parents and social workers!”
– Mandy Nell, Foster Care Specialist with Church Engagement at Seattle Union Gospel Mission

Clothing donations were dropped off at King West DSHS office and will be distributed to other DSHS offices in King County including DSHS – Delridge and DSHS – MLK. Adult clothing donations were provided to Parents for Parents, an organization that assists parents whose children have entered the system by providing training and resources. You can see the generosity of our church-wide collection evidenced in photos above (and that was just the second trip!).

GET INVOLVED

If you are interested in learning more about foster and adoptive care in the State of Washington, or want to get involved through donating or volunteering, please feel free to contact me. I love sharing about these wonderful kiddos! Thank you on behalf all of the kids who will sleep, run, and thrive in the clothing you’ve donated.

“He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” – Deuteronomy 10:18

To God be the glory,

Jen Keogh

You can get connected to Jen to learn more about foster and adoptive care in the State of Washington by emailing info@downtowncornerstone.org.

Nov 22
2016

Give and Serve this Advent Season

Advent Drive, City Life, Event, Foster Care, News | by Pastor Craig Sturm

The season of Advent has historically been intended to cause the hearts of Christians to remember and rejoice in the glory of the truth that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us! We celebrate that He has broken into human history to redeem that which was enslaved; restore that which was broken; to renew that which had been dead! The incarnation of Jesus is the single greatest act of love, grace, and mercy in the history of humanity. It is good news of great joy — for the world, and for us as individuals. As we reflect on God’s abundance to us in Jesus, there are two ways that you can partner with DCC to serve and give this Advent season:

FOSTER CARE CLOTHING DRIVE

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On any given day there are 1,200 to 1,500 children in foster care in King County. Whether children are picked up from school or removed directly from home, they often don’t have the chance to bring their clothes with them. Consequently, many children come into foster care without coats or sometimes even socks! It can take weeks for DSHS to get foster children these basic winter essentials. Life in foster care can be extraordinarily challenging and disruptive for kids and teens, both emotionally and developmentally. Having the comfort of warm clothes can go a long way in helping children transition into foster care. Downtown Cornerstone has chosen to partner with DSHS this advent season to provide comfortable clothes for foster children entering state care. The items donated will give DSHS offices a supply of winter items to give out to children as soon as they enter care.

How to Participate:
Starting November 27th, donate clothing for elementary-aged children by dropping clothing in barrels on Sunday or by purchasing items online using the Amazon Wish List.

More Details:
More details, including a list of needed items, can be found at www.downtowncornerstone.org/foster-care-drive

VOLUNTEER WITH THE CARE NET MOBILE UNIT

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After Sanctity of Life Sunday this year, a small group of people within Downtown Cornerstone Church felt convicted and called to respond to the alarming statistics of how abortion affects our city. In response, the group began The LIFE Project, which targeted two connected areas of need: Pregnancy Crisis Support and Adoption/Foster Care. The Pregnancy Crisis Support team partnered with CareNet, the largest pregnancy crisis resource in the Puget Sound, to support their strategy of bringing a Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) to Seattle. The Mobile Medical Unit is a bus that will serve women and families where there are currently no life-affirming pregnancy service available. The MMU has the flexibility to park near college campuses, churches, and community centers, reaching women right in their neighborhood for free pregnancy testing, ultrasound appointments, and STI screenings. The statistics for the Mobile Medical Unit are staggering: 4 out of 5 women who board a Mobile Medical Unit choose life for their baby. By God’s grace, working through your passion and generosity, Downtown Cornerstone Church helped support the purchase of the first Mobile Medical Unit for Seattle! The next step in our partnership with CareNet is to serve in ways that directly affect the Medical Mobile Unit.

How to Participate:
There are a number of unique ways that you can serve including: Drivers, Marketing Volunteers, Men to give counsel and support to potential fathers, Medical Volunteers, and Medical Professionals.

More Details:
To learn more about these opportunities, our partnership with Care Net, and to volunteer to serve, visit http://www.downtowncornerstone.org/carenet

If you have any questions on these two efforts, please email info@downtowncornerstone.org. If you’d like to participate with the LIFE Project (Foster Care/Adoption or Pregnancy Support), please email craig@downtowncornerstone.org.

For His glory,
Pastor Craig

Jan 13
2015

Foster Care Drive: Loving the Least of These

Advent Drive, City Life, Foster Care, Service | by Anne Johnson

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“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – Jesus (John 14:18)

As foster parents licensed through the state, my husband and I see firsthand what it is like for children to come “into the system.” Our current foster son came to us with nothing but a worn coat and the clothes he was wearing. In the midst of uncertainty in a new and strange place, the gift of comfortable clothes is undeniably reassuring.

Throughout the Foster Care Drive, I watched in grateful amazement as our living room filled with messy piles of socks, bags of sweatshirts, and boxes of sweatpants. I am astonished by God’s grace and provision through the Downtown Cornerstone community. Through the freedom to love as we have been loved, we collected over 780 articles of clothing! You can see the generosity of that collection evidenced below in photos of my car stuffed with your donations.

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The bottom-right photo above is the play area at the West Seattle Visitation Center where the clothes will be distributed. When children come into care after hours, they are often brought here and given overnight bags with essentials, if any are available. Lisa, the DSHS social worker who runs the visitation center, was incredibly grateful to stock the center with our much-needed supplies.

GET INVOLVED

If you are looking for more ways to help, Lisa shared that a dream of hers is to have a supply of duffel bags. If children are lucky enough to bring their things from home, they usually carry their items around in trash bags. Just as some fresh socks can bring comfort, having a proper bag for your possessions (however few) can bring a sense of worth and value.

The Visitation Center is also in desperate need of a refresh. There is currently a project through Amara, an adoption support agency, to update the Center. For more information, visit Amara’s GoFundMe page.

If you are interested in learning more about foster and adoptive care in the State of Washington, or want to get involved through donating or volunteering, please feel free to contact me. I love sharing about these wonderful kiddos! Thank you on behalf  all of the kids who will sleep, run, and thrive in the clothing you’ve donated.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name…Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity…”
– Psalm 68:4-6

Christ is all,
Anne Johnson

You can get connected to Anne to learn more about foster and adoptive care in the State of Washington by emailing info@downtowncornerstone.org.

Dec 11
2014

Foster Care Clothing Drive

Advent Drive, Foster Care, News, Service | by Pastor David Parker

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As we kick off this advent season, we want to demonstrate the love of Christ in action. We are not only here to proclaim the good news of Jesus in our city, but we also want to be good news to our city. In light of that, through the month of December, two things are happening:

COMMUNITY

Our Cornerstone Communities will be looking for ways to love and bless the people and needs that God has placed around them. If you know of a person or family in need, talk to your community lead. [Note: If you are in need of particular help in this season, please let us know by emailing info@downtowncornerstone.org.]

CHURCH

Corporately, we’ve chosen to partner with DSHS this advent season to provide comfortable clothes for foster children entering state care. On any given day there are 1,300 to 1,500 children in foster care in King County. Whether children are picked up from school or removed directly from home, they often don’t have the chance to bring their clothes with them. Consequently, many children come into foster care without coats or sometimes even socks! It can take weeks for DSHS to get foster children these basic winter essentials.

Life in foster care can be extraordinarily challenging and disruptive for kids and teens, both emotionally and developmentally. Having the comfort of warm clothes can go a long way in helping children transition into foster care. The items donated will give DSHS offices a supply of winter items to give out to children as soon as they enter care.

  • Donations: Bring in your donations every Sunday at AMC Theaters, now through the end of December. You can also purchase online and have items shipped directly to DCC.
  • Details: For a full list of details, including clothing items, Amazon shopping list ideas, and more, visit downtowncornerstone.org/foster-care-drive.
  • Flyer: If you would like to place a receptacle in your apartment building or workplace, you can download a promotional flyer HERE. Don’t forget to write your name and phone number on it, so people can follow up with questions!
  • Questions: Email info@downtowncornerstone.org

Whatever you and/or your community ends up doing, get creative, be generous, and ask Jesus to give you a vision for incarnating the love of Christ this season. In Christ we have been given much. By Him and through Him we have much to give.

For the Gospel in this city,
Pastor David