Rosie loves big families. Over the past four years she and her husband have been foster parents to twenty different children, from newborn babies to teens. Currently, they are foster parents to seven children, all from difficult and troublesome situations. Rosie admits that she wonders sometimes, “Oh Lord, can I do this?” Obviously, she can!
When the children first come into her care, it can take a long time to build their trust. Many of them have endured unimaginable abuse and neglect. Some have even been moved between numerous families. “I have to have strength and patience. This is a 24/7 job,” Rosie said as she grinned ear to ear. Rosie has always loved children. She and her husband raised two beautiful daughters and two sons. She also watched children for working parents, or when somebody just needed a hand. Four years ago a friend suggested she look into being a foster parent for Catholic Charities. And so she did. Today, staff working in the Foster Care program at Catholic Charities regularly call her when a child who has been removed from a home due to abuse or neglect needs a safe and welcoming home, and a loving family. Rosie does’t have special training or skills, but she does receive support and guidance from the staff at Catholic Charities. “I treat each one of the children in my care with love and respect.” Each child has responsibitiles such as making their beds, cleaning up their rooms before they leave for school, doing their homework, and cleaning the dishes. Rosie aslo speaks fondly of the times they all say grace before enjoying dinner together. The family attends church each week. “I talk to the children and I listen to them. I tell them I love them every day. We do everything together, including group hugs. In this family, nobody is ever left out.” The children are thriving and growing in Rosie’s care. They are happy together at home, they help each other with homework, and show respect and love for their foster parents and each other. Rosie believes she gets her strength and inspriration from the children she cares for. “There is a perfect balance in my life. I give to them and they want to give back.” Rosie said people ask her all the time about her secret to caring for so many children. She claims there is no secret. She loves her work; she loves the children. She doesn’t want to take credit for their success in life. She just wants to be there for the kids, and for Catholic Charities.
Rosie does admit there is one challenging part of the job. She never knows how long a child will stay with her and her husband. She tries not to think about when that day will come. She just wants the children to be happy. “I’ll keep doing this until I can’t do it anymore,” said Rosie. And at Catholic Charities we are grateful for her attitude and commitment. She’s an angel on earth!
Meet Jerome & Brenda…
A series of unexpected events turned Jerome and Brenda’s life upside down. It was especially difficult for Jerome who has spent a large portion of his life caring for others as a father, husband, and Certified Nurse’s Assistant. “I am used to helping others and here I was in need of someone to help me,” Jerome said.
After having raised five children and currently enjoying their beautiful grandchildren, what happened to bring Jerome and Brenda to the streets and living out of their rented car? This is their story …
Jerome began one workday in January unaware that by the end of that day he would be going home to tell his lovely wife he was out of a job. He also found himself filing for Workmen’s Compensation for an injury he suffered that same day. He hired an attorney to help with his case while attempting to find a new job. Three months later, attorney fees, mortgage payments, and no steady income forced Jerome to foreclose on his mortgage and move to an apartment.
It took Jerome another three months to find a new job at a nursing home but his income was not sufficient to pay the full rent every month. While Jerome did receive a settlement check from his Workmen’s Compensation case, the funds were not enough to cover his rent payments.
Thankfully, his new landlord was more than accommodating for six months. But there was no rest for the weary. The back rent situation caused their landlord to evict Jerome and Brenda from their apartment. To add to the humbling experience, the sheriff came to their home to force them out and into the streets.
While Jerome continued working, Brenda kept warm at public places and at night they would go to P.A.D.S. Many stresses continued to plague Jerome, including answering co-worker questions about his living situation.
Thankfully, God is always with us and he sent a Good Samaritan their way. She suggested they try contacting CatholicCharities’ Hope House. Hope House is a shelter for situationally homeless individuals and families in need of a job and a new place to live.
Jerome and Brenda became residents at Hope House. During their seven week stay
they were helped by caring staff. “The staff at Hope House helped us every step of the way,” said Jerome. This was especially true of Melissa and Madeline, their crisis counselors, who not only helped them find a place to live, but helped them access other resources too.
Jerome and Brenda now live in an apartment where the rent is reasonable and they can finally get back on their feet. According to Jerome, “Catholic Charities is an angel of the Lord down here on earth.”
Diane had always cared for others. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she devoted herself to her patients. After twenty years of caring for her patients, Diane felt it was time to make a change.
She found a job at a family owned restaurant and worked there for five years. In addition to her restaurant duties, she became a mentor and confidant to the younger employees she worked with; some even called her “Grandma” because she was always there to listen and give advice. Again, she was caring for others. Then the economy took a turn for the worse and the owner of the restaurant had to make cuts – Diane lost her job. Soon she lost her home. “I was scared and homeless. I lost my job and my home and I had to look for somewhere to go.”
Diane found out about Daybreak. She arrived feeling scared and uncertain about what she would find. What she discovered were people who were kind and helpful – she felt comfortable there. She also found programs and workshops that could help her look for a job and get back on her feet. She was enthusiastic about the workshops and classes. “Anything that Catholic Charities offered – I took it!” She discovered Daybreak’s Employment Program run by Employment Center Coordinator, Vernon Riley. “We give the residents the tools they need to prepare themselves for finding a job.” Daybreak’s Employment Program offers workshops and discussion groups each week that cover everything rom interviewing skills and how to write a resume to money management and workplace ethics. Vern also conducts a one-on-one assessment of each client to determine what they need to succeed in finding and keeping a job. These things include appropriate clothing for an interview, work clothes and shoes needed once they find a job, as well as bus passes or gas for one week once they start a new job. Discussion groups allow for clients to talk about barriers to employment they may be facing in searching for work or on-the-job issues that they have questions about. It allows people to talk and learn from each other, while providing a support system for each other.
Vern Riley has also created “Job Rallies” to kick-start the week. Every Monday morning, residents scan the newspaper for job openings; follow up on leads they may have picked up on; and use the local library to research job openings. Then Vern takes everyone out in the “Application Express” van, owned by Catholic Charities, to go to businesses and fill out applications. This program has been successful for many residents, including Diane.
“Finding a job was difficult. I would get depressed because no one called me back.” But she stuck with it, and with the help of Daybreak’s Employment Program, Diane was able to find a stable job at a local restaurant. “I love my new job. Everyone thereis so nice!” Diane has turned her life around and looks forward to the future. She looks forward to saving some money, buying a car, and finding a home she can call her own.