Cedar Rapids, IA
It started like so many things do: a group of committed parents identified a need, got together and made a vision into a reality. In this case, the parents were foster parents and they recognized a need to create a resource for other families supporting children in foster care with necessary items including clothing. One year later Families Helping Families of Iowa secured its nonprofit status with a mission of meeting the needs of youth who have been abused or neglected to offer them the same opportunities other children have.
Families Helping Families offers programs and services designed specifically for children in foster care in Iowa, and the families that care for them. The majority of requests come from families in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City corridor, with girls and boys from varied ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, newborns to teens.
The Clothing Closet
“The average child in foster care moves seven times before the age of 18, usually abruptly leaving their home with very few personal belongings,” said Lisa Buckman, Executive Director of Families Helping Families. “The Clothing Closet provides essentials that help make these difficult transitions more bearable.”
Over 1,100 children and families visit the Clothing Closet each year. Social workers and case workers contact Families Helping Families around the clock in the event of an emergency placement.
“In many instances caregivers get a call telling them they need to pick up a child in 20 minutes,” said Buckman. “That’s how much time they have to prepare to welcome a child into their home. When they come here they can pick up clothing, shoes, a coat, a quilt, some books and even a toy to help them get through the first couple of weeks.”
REM Iowa, a partner of The MENTOR Network, enriches The Network’s partnership with Families Helping Families through hands on volunteer work throughout the year, including during our National Volunteer Day and during the holiday season.
“We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to support the children and youth in foster care through the programs and services offered by Families Helping Families, said Lisa Pakkebier, Executive Director, REM Iowa. “It is incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to participate in the Families Helping Families Annual Holiday Party and to experience the joy this brings to the children and the families that care for them. Families Helping Families is a mission-based organization, as we are, focused on improving the lives of people. We have similar missions. It is personally and professionally rewarding to be affiliated with organizations of this nature.”
“Simply put, when children have their basic needs met and have a little bit of security at a time of uncertainty, they have an opportunity to thrive,” said Buckman.