27. March 2012 13:18
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Livonia hosted several hosted Lutheran Social Services of Michigan foster parents and their families on March 24, providing respite, a good meal and some entertainment. In the afternoon, teen and adult volunteers did crafts and games with the children so the foster parents could take a few hours off. Then the families came together for dinner.
Al and Cynthia Lucas attended with four members of their extended family. Al recently retired from Chrysler but maintains his position as pastor at Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. He and his wife have been foster parents with Lutheran Social Services for more than 20 years. He estimates they have cared for over 100 children. They adopted several, and many of their foster children have gone on to college. With them at Holy Trinity were their daughter Shania, 9, and three sisters, aged 5 to 8, who they are adopting. Michelle Wells is an unmarried grandmother caring for two of her grandchildren. She also has two foster children, 10-year-old Peter and 13-year-old Nicole. She has been a foster parent for many years, and is often asked to take on a case in an emergency situation. She hopes all four of her charges can attend Lutheran Social Services’ camp for foster children this summer.
“It was humbling to spend time with these people who have opened their homes to the very vulnerable young people here in our area,” said Paul Drenkow, a longtime Lutheran Social Services volunteer and a member of Holy Trinity. “It was inspiring to see Holy Trinity members reach out to these families—especially our young people who spent the day playing with the foster children. I also enjoyed seeing Jack Bailey, who provided entertainment, delighting the young girls by dancing with them.”
Audrey Williams-Burton, director of Lutheran Social Services’ programs for children and families in Southeast Michigan, says there are about 14,000 children in foster care in Michigan. She noted that children become “eligible” for foster care at all ages. There is a critical need for homes for teenagers, who will “age out” of foster care support when they reach 18. Host families are needed to house these youth and be a role model so they can become independent adults. In this situation, the host families do not need to go through the same training as foster parents, but do receive compensation.
Members of Holy Trinity know the value of a strong family. “By continuing to support Lutheran Social Services’ foster care program, we can help can help those in need experience the same feeling,” said Drenkow.