Local lawyers detailed Project Birthday at the Forsyth County Department of Social Services on Friday, May 2, the second day of National Foster Care Month.
Through the Forsyth County Women Attorneys Association- and DSS- sponsored program, attorneys will purchase birthday gifts for local foster children, who will also get a birthday cake (courtesy of Lowes Foods), candles and party favors on their special day.
FCWAA already provides Christmas gifts for foster kids, but when Jessica Bell, an attorney in private practice, heard DSS didn’t do anything for kids’ birthdays, she pushed for her fellow FCWAA members to take action. The group accepted the call enthusiastically and vowed to make sure all children in foster care, which was 161 the last week on April, receive birthday packages.
“We hope that the children in Forsyth County know that they are loved; they are special, and they are not forgotten,” Bell said.
Gifts purchased by Winston-Salem Women of Womble – which is made up of lawyers at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, where FCWAA President Sarah Crotts practices – for foster kids with May birthdays were displayed during the kickoff announcement, which included remarks by WXII Anchor Wanda Starke and Mayor Allen Joines. Other firms and legal organizations are being solicited to provide gifts for upcoming months.
Starke, who was adopted, thinks the royal treatment foster kids will receive thanks to Project Birthday will make a huge difference.
“I had loving parents who always celebrated my birthday and made me feel special,” she said. “… Unfortunately, there’s about 9,000 children in our state in foster care who don’t know that feeling, necessarily; some of them have never celebrated a birthday, so I think what you’re doing here today is just so so special.”
The newly-formed non-profit EACH Foundation will make sure the gifts are picked up. Lily Alexander founded EACH – which was named by a foster teen through a contest – to assist foster children. She hopes to match local churches with foster youth for tutoring purposes and is also collecting gift cards, clothes and other donations for children.
“EACH Foundation is that connection that connects the person wanting to give and the person who needs to receive,” she said.
Brenda Ball praised Project Birthday. Over the last two decades, she and her husband, George, have opened their home to more than 50 foster children, eight of whom they adopted. She keeps track of kids after they leave her care. Many of them went on to be successful adults with families of their own – which makes Ball exceedingly proud.
“For 25 years-plus, I’ve been privileged to care for, to love and to get to know the children coming into foster care, and I’m going to tell you right now, some of the greatest, most wonderful kids in the world come through the foster care system,” Ball said.
More couples, individuals and families like the Balls are needed to care for foster children until they are adopted or are able to return to their own families, said DSS’ Sharon Porter, who recruits foster parents. DSS regularly holds interest meetings for would-be foster parents. Porter said Project Birthday and any and all forms of support for the foster children are welcome.
“I personally feel that it takes a village to raise a child, and we all have to step up to the plate to do what we need to do for children,” she said.
To sponsor a month of Project Birthday, email Bell at email@example.com. For more information about the EACH Foundation, visit www.eachfouondation.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit www.co.forsyth.nc.us/DSS/adopt_foster.aspx.