How RCA Churches in Albany Are Supporting Foster Families
By Annie Reilly
To offer support to families fostering children, several RCA churches in Albany and Schenectady Classes have partnered with Fostering Futures NY (FFNY), a nonprofit program in New York’s Capital Region that recruits and trains teams of volunteers to provide support to foster families.
A team from each church is paired with one family to do things like help a child with homework, take the family a meal, play a game, or pick up groceries. Since families often foster more than one child, the support of the church team makes a big impact on the family.
Patty Delmonico Schardt and Dawn May Alpaugh reflected on what they have learned from being involved with FFNY in their churches.
Dawn May Alpaugh
Pastor of First Reformed Church in Wynantskill
Several months ago two of us went to an informational meeting about Fostering Futures. A church down the road had been involved and they kept hounding us to consider participating. It was hard not to be swept up in the mission of this organization: to assist, listen, and journey with a foster family in our area.
We were finally matched with a family of 12! Ten children! Some are biological, some are adopted, some are foster [children]. I don’t know which is which. It doesn’t matter. They adopt every child that comes to them. I am humbled by their joy and love and commitment. I am awed by how amazing these children care for one another and call each other family.
I have learned what it means to worry about the big stuff, not the little stuff. Our family doesn’t have time for little stuff. Is everyone loved and fed? Then we’re doing well! They would take care of all the things we help with on their own, but how blessed we are to lighten their burden, as they teach us the way to follow Christ.
Patty Delmonico Schardt
Member of Lynnwood Reformed Church in Schenectady
My husband and I have had the privilege of being involved with the Fostering Futures organization for 18 months. After training, we were given a family to help, along with a team from our church of five others. The family has six children: four toddlers and two preteens. The commitment is once a month for an hour to help the family, plus a monthly team meeting, but we usually go more.
In the first year, our team helped babysit, bring meals, do laundry, paint, and help with yard work. Our favorite thing to do is bring dinner once a month and give the parents a night out. There is art time, reading, games, dancing, and singing for three hours! Baths and pajamas are often included. My husband is a storyteller, which is a favorite of them all. I also go in the mornings a few times a month and babysit some of the toddlers while the mom does errands or gets some work done.
The mom texted me once, “Thank you for loving our children.” After 18 months, we have developed a bond with all of them. When we go over, there is a series of squeals and hugs that we are there. It has been enriching to our lives to be a part of this organization. We are grateful to be a part of this and play a small role in giving some help to these foster children as they grow up.
For more information about how you or your church can get involved with Fostering Futures NY, visit their website.
Annie Reilly is communication coordinator for the Regional Synod of Albany.