Southwest Baptist University partners with Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical College, Drury University and Evangel University this fall in Fostering Futures, an effort to educate the community about foster care, promote advocacy and support youth and families in the foster care system.
This is the third year for the five institutions to join together in a common community service initiative coinciding with National Make a Difference Day, taking place this year Saturday, Oct. 24.
The foster care issue was selected by the partnership due to the proportionally large foster-care population in the region. For instance, of the 15,000 children in the Missouri foster care system, there are more than 850 children in Greene County alone, with only 250 local foster homes to care for them, according to the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association (MFCAA).
“Educating and caring are key elements in SBU’s mission, and our community is strengthened when we share kindness and encouragement with our fellow citizens.” said Dr. Rob Harris, vice president for student development. “By helping those within foster care, individuals are creating a positive ripple effect that has massive potential to create lasting influence and inspiration.”
SBU’s participation in the initiative will focus on education and promoting advocacy in the campus community through four dedicated chapel services, which began Sept. 28 with Nathan Ross, the youth advocacy supervisor of the MFCAA, who shared what it was like growing up in the foster-care system and encouraged students to get involved in the issue.
Next was Mark Hay, direct services coordinator at Southwest Missouri Resource Center and director of Sammy’s Window, a local project of the MFCAA that provides foster and adoptive families with free clothing, food, hygiene items, furniture, and other supplies to help meet the immediate practical needs that arise when they are asked to take in children, often on very short notice. Hays discussed Sammy’s Window and did a Q&A session on Oct. 5.
Landee Nevills, SBU director of residence life, will discuss foster care and have a student panel in chapel on Oct. 7, followed on Oct. 14 by Kurt Caddy, SBU director of university ministries, who will discuss the biblical perspective of caring for orphans in a talk titled “The Spirit of Adoption.”
“We are adopted into God’s family,” Kaddy said. “Adoption is a picture of God’s love and care for us. When we participate in fostering and adoption, we are participating in a redemptive act that is both beautiful and painful. We are acting toward these children as God has acted toward us.”
The institutions will also combine their efforts by collecting donations of clothing, hygiene, food and other items to support Sammy’s Window. SBU will assist in this effort by organizing a campus-wide collection of underwear and socks Oct. 5 through Oct. 16.
Faculty, staff, students and the community are welcome to contribute items to SBU’s collection for Sammy’s Window. Drop-off locations will be set up in campus locations like the Student Union and Sells Administrative Center.
SBU plans to continue the Fostering Futures initiative throughout the remainder of the academic year by hosting additional educational events, collections and other activities. To learn more about SBU’s participation in Fostering Futures, please contact Harris at (417) 328-1885.