PurposeOne:27 is a group of women who came together in 2017 to answer the call of God to respond to the foster care crisis that exists in our community. The need for more foster homes is urgent, but often overlooked. We believe that responding to the needs of the children in foster care, especially those right here in our own county, is a purpose worth acting on.
Our ministry to foster families and children is founded on James 1:27 which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God is to care for orphans and widows in their time of need and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.” We wanted to support our local foster families and we knew they needed community support, but there was not an organized way to administer help. PurposeOne:27 is changing that! Now, there IS a way for the community to get help to our local families whether through volunteering, financial donations, prayer, or in-kind services. WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Walton County, FL has not escaped the fall out of the national drug epidemic. Unfortunately, the children of users and dealers pay the highest price when their parents no longer provide their basic needs. The statistics vary from quarter to quarter, but the fact is that Walton County, FL has one of the highest rates of child removal in the state. That means there are approximately 150 to 175 children in Walton County who are displaced from their home right now. Of those, approximately 100 are in the care of a relative or a close family friend leaving approximately 85 to 90 children who need a foster family to care for them.
Right now, Walton County has less than 10 foster families to respond to the needs of the 85 to 100 children in need. Nearly 90% of the children in foster care from Walton County are placed out of county with 20% of those being placed outside Northwest Florida. Most people don’t realize how much the trauma increases for a child who is removed from their home and then additionally taken to an area that is foreign to them. This requires changing schools, being removed from friends, teachers, church and other community support systems. Additionally, routing sibling visits and visits with parents becomes more difficult and less frequent due to travel burden. Children from Walton County are being placed as far as Miami and Tampa because of the lack of licensed foster homes locally. Although our neighboring counties have a need for more foster families, the need isn’t nearly as urgent as Walton County’s.
CURRENT AVAILABLE BEDS PER COUNTY (Facts provided by Families First Network)
ESCAMBIA – 186
SANTA ROSA – 130
OKALOOSA – 127
WALTON – only 24
PURPOSE : to grow and support foster families in our community by supporting current foster families and raising awareness of the need for more foster families.
VISION : that every foster child has a loving home in their community.
PurposeOne:27 is so blessed to be under the covering and blessing of our home church, Destiny Worship Center. They provide us with guidance and support us in all of our community efforts.
Over the past two years we have ministered to foster families in Walton County through:
- 56 meals served
- 12 families assisted with supplies such as backpacks, clothes, car seats, strollers, and school supplies
- 7 respite events allowing parents to drop kids off for some organized fun while they have alone time to do whatever they need
- Over $1000 in gift cards to help offset the costs of taking in children who often come with nothing
- Numerous meals and pedicures to local foster parents through our business partnerships
- 90 duffle bags and 10 backpacks loaded with toiletries delivered to Walton County’s child removal team so that children have something other than a trash bag for their belongings when they are removed
- Countless prayers, encouraging phone calls and texts to foster families.
- Monthly support group meetings held in Walton County so foster parents no longer have to travel to another county for education and support
MEET THE PURPOSEONE:27 TEAM
PurposeOne:27 Leader/Prayer Ministry
I’ve loved children since I was a child myself. Growing up, when I envisioned my future family I always imagined having my own kids, as well as adopting. Like many people, once I became an adult I realized that real life doesn’t always look just like our dreams. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad; it just means it’s different, so, I could either get really frustrated, or I could re-adjust my desires and dreams to fit reality.
For years, I questioned why God had placed such a deep desire in my heart to foster or adopt when He knew that my personal circumstances would prevent it. At times I became very frustrated with what I believed were the obstacles to accomplishing my dream. Over the past few years and through various people and circumstances God continued to burden me with what I saw and heard about the unthinkable number of foster children in Walton County, but I always ran into a dead end when it came to how I could help.
In January of 2017 God began to show me why he gave me a heart for foster children and how He planned for me to use it. The need to “do something” about the foster crisis in my community drove me to speak up even though I felt my hands were tied. Once I spoke up, God started to reveal His plan. I learned that there were others who shared my burden for foster children and like me they were ready to do something about it. We were in agreement that, “not everyone can be a foster parent, but we can all help those who can.” This is how PurposeOne:27 began.
Our desire is to support families who are able to foster and those who are already fostering and to somehow help carry the load through our support. There are far too few foster homes and far too many foster children in the world but especially in Walton County. I hope that through our love and support that more people are encouraged to foster and that soon we would have a foster home for every child who needs one.
Foster Parent Liaison & Supply Ministry
In 2003 our family of 4 decided to take in two precious girls as non relative care placement and later ended up adopting them into our family. It was challenging going through the process of transitioning from a family of 4 to a family of 6 along with all the appointments, court hearings, counseling and extra financial responsibility.
We were trying to learn the girls likes and dislikes, habits, struggles, and just love on them as well as helping them deal with the loss of their parents. Shortly into the process I was given a gift card to the grocery store. That was so overwhelming generous to me and I was so honored that they thought of me and wanted to help. A simple act of kindness in a time of need is just what PurposeOne:27 wants to be for the foster families of Walton County.
Fast forward to October 2016 as my children were almost all grown up and moving away I heard the Lord so clearly tell me to start taking in women and children. So I immediately obeyed and within just a few days with the direction and guidance of the Lord a mom with 3 children were moving into my home. I knew in my heart that I wanted to help mom’s get back on their feet so that they don’t lose their children again to the foster care system. A few months later PurposeOne:27 was birthed and I knew I wanted to be a part of supporting foster parents, that way I could be on both sides of the issues facing our families today.
In some cases the mom’s I have worked with don’t have their children because they are already in the foster care system. In other cases the mom’s have been reunited with their children but are on the verge of losing them again. Nothing is more enjoyable to me than to see a mom get back on her feet , do the work needed and go through the proper steps to be reunited with her children. This is the desire that I believe the Lord has placed on my heart. To help women and children in their time of need and to help them be reunited with each other. If I can help foster families stay fostering until that precious child can be reunited with their momma and help the momma get back on her feet so that she can be reunited with her child then I would says that is a successful story. This is why I have chosen to be a part of PurposeOne:27 to love, help and support these families and to be a part of something bigger than myself.
13 years ago, my husband, Hayward, and I, decided to establish our home in Walton County. We had been in Hillsborough County since we married, in 2003, and we decided we needed to get closer to our family as we were expecting our first child. In Hillsborough County I worked as a Special Education Teacher in a very low income part of Tampa. Several of my students had broken home lives and I was seeing the effects on students with this type of instability.
After several months of being home with our first born, I felt a strong urge to return to work, but not to teach. God led me into a position with Families First Network, doing case management for families under protective services.
I worked in this position for almost 7 years and my eyes were truly opened to the heartbreaking realities that so many children face each day. Watching children be separated from their loved ones and go into foster homes broke my heart. What was even more heartbreaking was that most of the time, they had to leave Walton County, due to the lack of homes in our area. 13 years later, Walton County is still struggling with finding and maintaining good foster parents.
After almost 7 years at FFN I had my 4th child and I knew that I was needed at home raising my own children. When PurposeOne:27 was established it gave me the opportunity to continue to help children in foster care. I can support foster parents through prayer or by bringing dinner and I feel like I am still helping those children in need. It is my honor and pleasure to serve the foster parents of Walton County.
Secretary & Meal Ministry Leader
Info coming soon!