By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Other | Issue: May 2011
Lauren Wiehle, Lisa Prescott, Julie Kline, Maria Carter and Grace Claflin prepare gift baskets for door prizes at the Choices for Life foster parents appreciation dinner.
They’re people who give of themselves beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. They take in children from abusive or neglectful situations who require therapy for medical or psychological conditions. And they stick with these kids to provide them with the love and care that many have never known.
Foster parents with Choices for Life Foster Care in Sapulpa give 24/7. But on Thursday, May 5, they will be on the receiving end of a special appreciation dinner. As part of the National Foster Care Month in May, Choices for Life will honor all 56 of its foster parents.
The evening will begin with a red carpet reception and catered dinner at the First Baptist Church of Sapulpa. Local businesses have shown their support by donating food and an assortment of items to be awarded as door prizes.
This is the first year the organization has reached out for help in making the appreciation dinner an extra special event. “We were amazed with the response, and we really appreciate each and every donation,” says Julie Kline, supervisor of the Sapulpa office. Participating merchants include the Doubletree Warren Place, Texas Roadhouse, Food Pyramid, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Dave & Buster’s, Tulsa Ballet, Merritt’s Bakery, Mazzio’s and the Cheesecake Factory.
The appreciation dinner not only recognizes the generosity and commitment of foster parents, it raises awareness about the need for more families who are willing to open their homes and hearts to these children.
“Raising kids is hard enough,” says Julie. “Therapeutic needs create a whole new dynamic.” Unlike traditional foster care, Choices for Life focuses on children with a higher level of emotional and behavioral needs. Not everyone can provide the patience, love, strength and open mind that are needed. But there are some who feel a real calling.
The process of becoming a foster parent includes seven weeks of free training, in which treatment families learn to create opportunities for their foster child to heal and grow. Although it does not always happen, the goal is for the child to return to his or her biological family with the interpersonal and behavioral skills to become a positive and accomplished adult.
Therapist Grace Claflin recalls one recent case where a two-year-old was placed in DHS custody when his single mother’s substance abuse became too overwhelming for her. The boy arrived at Choices for Life with no verbal skills, and only emotional outbursts to communicate his feelings.
A caring foster family worked with the boy through speech and behavioral therapy. At the same time, they reached out to the boy’s mother and let her know that someone cared about her and wanted to see her succeed.
A year later, the mother has a job, reliable transportation and a place to live. Most importantly, she has her son again and the parenting skills he needs to continue his progress.
Choices for Life is a national agency with offices in Georgia, Oklahoma City, Checotah, Ponca City and Sapulpa. There are currently 54 children in the Sapulpa program. Many others are in shelters waiting for placement. A new foster care class begins in June. For more information on how to make a lifelong difference in a young person’s life, call (918) 248-4340 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.