By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Special Interest | Issue: May 2013
Staff members of Choices for Life (L to R): (front row) M. Shawn Cooper, Jr., Dona Overbay, Pam Ittner, (back row) Jeanetta Bussell, Kristi Selensky, Maria Carter, and LaShonna Nelson.
Foster parents are truly special individuals. 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 the love and care that many have never known.
Foster parents with Choices for Life Foster Care in Sapulpa give of themselves 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But on Thursday, May 9, they will be on the receiving end of a special appreciation banquet. As part of National Foster Care Month in May, Choices for Life will honor all of its foster parents.
The dinner will be held at First Baptist Church in Sapulpa and gives the foster parents an opportunity to get all dolled up and enjoy a night out for themselves while Choices for Life therapists watch the kids.
The appreciation dinner not only recognizes the generosity and commitment of foster parents, but also raises awareness about the need for more families who are willing to open their homes and hearts to these children.
Raising children is hard enough, but 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 many individuals and families feel a real calling. According to Maria Carter of Choices for Life, they are currently in desperate need of foster parents to care for local children.
The process of becoming a foster parent includes 13 weeks of free training, in which treatment families learn to create opportunities for their foster child to heal and grow. The goal typically 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.
Each child is carefully evaluated and matched with a strong and stable foster family that will integrate that child not only into their family, but also into their community, school and church.
It takes a unique person or family to open their hearts to these children. Those who were up to the challenge say it is one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences in their lives, as they watch a troubled child blossom into a loving and responsible individual.
All children — including the 408,000 American children and youth in foster care — deserve a safe, happy life. Young people in foster care especially need nurturing adults on their side because their own families are in crisis and unable to care for them.
Choices for Life is a national agency with offices in Georgia, Oklahoma City, Checotah, Ponca City and Sapulpa. A new foster care class begins soon. 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.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.