This year has not gone as planned (understatement of the century)! So, to ease the stress and frustration of it all, I have been meme hunting; chuckling at the expense of 2020. Some of my favorites have looked like this:
But the one that really resonated with me, was this. We went into 2020 with excitement thinking of all the positive experiences we were going to partner with the community to provide kids in foster care. We dreamed of ways we were going to expand into new areas; planning fall events for Tucson and Prescott. Then, 2020 hit and we scrambled. We shifted gears from events to shoring up the young adults that are involved in our housing. We got our legs back underneath us from the loss of volunteers and resources. And, we started re-imagining the dream. All of us have experienced challenges and loss in this time but, kids in foster care have experienced it at a higher rate. Schedules have been upturned. School has been cancelled. Events and activities that connected them to the community have been closed or postponed. Even visits with their families have moved to virtual connections. While necessities have been provided at a higher rate in this season by many of our community partners, we found a huge gap in something that remains vital to the well being of every child- joy.
The Joy Train, that had 40 routes all over the valley, Prescott, and Tucson, involved over 100 volunteers and has impacted over 500 kids, came from a desire to fill that gap- to reconnect the community to kids that need connection most and to bring JOY! Here are some stories of how you did just that!
“I am aunt of my 8 yr old twin nieces. We were the recipients of a delivery and the girls LOVED IT!!!! Thank you so much for the smiles, laughter, dancing, and fun you brought this morning! What an amazing experience for the girls & I!!” -kinship mom
“Thank you!! Our family needed a “win” during this craziness!!” -foster parent
“Getting the box and opening it, my first thought was ‘This is the weirdest box of stuff we have ever got’. You know busy Mom of 6 kids, 3 under 2 years old. I didn’t have time to fully explore the box right away, so I set it aside for a couple hours. Later I opened the box and booklet and thought “This is the coolest thing ever. To think I thought it was weird. I hope everyone thought the same seeing 2 lemons and straws and random household items in a box and that wasn’t just me. LOL! The older kids are big enough to read the instructions and do the projects on their own. They did the Lava Lamp before I got to see and take pictures. They made the putty. We are going on 3 days and the kids are still doing projects. Making huge messes in my kitchen, but having a great time and also getting the littles involved with having fun with them also. I can tell it took effort to get it all put together and dropped off. Thanks for spending time and money on doing this!” -foster mom
“You made his whole summer! This was such a fun idea! Thank you guys!” – foster parent
“We ALL received joy!!! Thank you!” – volunteer host
It was such a great experience for the kids so, we are going to do it again! If you want to join the next Joy Train and help deliver Thankful boxes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Founder/CEO Foster Arizona