The saying “It takes a village” is one that rings true in the world of child welfare. Professionals, foster parents, and others involved in the welfare of children rely on each other for insight, direction, and information that will help to promote the well-being of at-risk kids. Volunteer organizations and individuals also help to fill the gap in responding to the needs of foster children.
One organization is devoted to this need. In 2008, staff members of James River Church became aware of a boy who had been brought into emergency foster care in the middle of the night due to extreme abuse. Their hearts wrenched by the situation, they began to formulate a way for their church to become connected and committed on a deeper level to the welfare of children in Southwest Missouri, and around the world. This vision led to the beginning of Cherish Kids. The organization is founded on the belief that every child is a gift from God and deserves to be cared for and cherished.
Cherish Kids collaborates and partners with local and state agencies as well as community groups in order to make a difference in the lives of children. They have a three-fold mission:
Raising awareness of the needs of children in crisis locally, statewide, and around the world,
Offering resources to families and individuals by providing credible information and guidance,
Providing support by assisting children in crisis with essential needs and providing financial, emotional, and spiritual support to families and individuals in their effort to foster and adopt.
With one part-time paid staff member and ten to twelve office volunteers, Cherish Kids relies heavily on volunteers. They are incredibly blessed and touched by the fact that more than two hundred people have helped them in this mission through volunteering at their various events. They strongly believe that God goes before them in stirring the hearts of many people who seek to fulfill the calling to care for foster and orphaned children. They admit that they would not be able to do what they do without the generous outpouring of many who are willing to be the hands and feet of the church.
Allowing people to utilize their gifts and resources to help children is crucial in keeping people actively involved, and Cherish Kids fully recognizes this. Utilizing volunteers helps to not only multiply their efforts, but also helps with keeping costs low and in being better stewards of their resources. They also seek to embrace volunteers, show their appreciation, and get involved in their personal lives as they all join together on the journey of ministering to children and families in need.
Cherish Kids believes that the greatest need within the church is raising awareness of the epidemic of abuse and neglect of children. They also believe that it is vital to equip churches to respond to the needs of children who are at-risk or orphaned. Through their efforts and collaboration with local and state agencies, they have been able to assist in finding foster home placements for children, often within a twenty-four-hour period.
With the full support of their church and the presence and energy of volunteers, Cherish Kids is making a mark in child welfare in Southwest Missouri and around the world. This summer, they are hosting the Cherish Kids Leadership Summit that will train other churches to launch the program in their area. Their prayer is that the program would expand beyond Missouri, that they will continue to find foster homes for children in need, and they would encourage and equip families who seek to be present in the lives of children.
Cherish Kids exists to encourage, enable, and empower people in the belief that everyone can make a difference in the lives of children in need of a place to call home, whether it is through foster parenting, adoption, or volunteering. You can find out more information about Cherish Kids on their website: www.cherishkids.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 417-581-KIDS (5437)