We have been inspired to make it an easier journey home for foster care children in Sarasota. We know our Sarasota Moms Blog readers will be inspired too.
May was National Foster Care Awareness Month, and during that month, we learned about struggles that foster children face — and how we could help.
Recently, we came across Rob Chasteen-Scheer’s story on Facebook. Mr. Chasteen-Scheer was a foster care child himself. In the video, he explained his life and transition through foster care. He explained how the system cannot support you anymore when you turn 18 years old. Left homeless once again at 18, he immediately enrolled in the military to survive. Eventually, he got married, and he and his husband adopted four beautiful foster children of a different race of their own.
To us, the whole story was a great story about survival and love.
But, the part that really touched us was that when Chasteen-Scheer was a foster child, he moved from home to home carrying his things in garbage bags. And 30 years later, his oldest adopted children arrived at his doorstep with trash bags too!
Since then, he created Comfort Cases to collect and distribute duffel bags, backpacks and supplies for foster care children in his area of the country: Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.
My children and I became inspired. But, we did not know if this was a problem in Sarasota. Then, coincidence struck.
Within two weeks, I was having lunch with a friend, talking casually, when we made a new connection. It turns out Cameron Zamora and his wife, Lisa, are in the process of adopting two wonderful children they have been caring for through foster care. I shared with him Mr. Chasteen-Scheer’s story. And guess what….his two kids came home with plastic garbage bags too! Not only that, but Lisa also works at the Safe Children Coalition, which cares for foster children in Sarasota as a service through the YMCA.
So, we realized there is no way around this. We have to help.
Imagine you are a child. You have just lost your family. And you are placed with strangers in foster care. You might feel lonely or unloved. Then, you are given a black plastic garbage bag to carry all of your possessions. This is a daily reality in Sarasota and around the country.
There are more than 1,400 foster care children in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties, according to Safe Children Coalition. This number is growing and much worse with our opioid epidemic.
Donating a suitcase can ease these children’s pain. It can make their journey to a safe, stable, and loving home easier.
My family and I have decided to collect new roller suitcases or donations for foster children ages 0-17 who will be at the Safe Children Coalition this year. If you feel inspired to help these children, join us in this journey. You can go through me and drop off donations during my collection and I’ll take care of it. Or, you can donate, volunteer, or even foster/adopt through Safe Children Coalition.
I cannot imagine my children not having us, their parents, in their lives. Much less can I imagine them going from home to home carrying plastic trash bags.
We are hoping you are inspired by these stories and join us in collecting our first 40 suitcases this summer.
Which type of suitcase? A new roller suitcase that you can imagine your own child using.
You can drop off your suitcases or send donations to my office:
1921 Waldemere St. Ste. 607, Sarasota, FL 34239
We will also be collecting donations at Phillippi Shores Elementary School until June 5, 2017.
Or, contact Safe Children Coalition to get more details or to work with them directly too: 866-661-5656
Your generosity will help make it an easier journey home for foster care children in Sarasota.
Ana and Miguel Rodríguez-Díaz