By Denise DuBois
When Meagan met the social worker to pick up her first foster child, the six-month-old baby had next to nothing with her. It was late in the evening and the child had come into foster care in an emergency situation. It brought to light what the Roberts family had been praying about for more than two years: a way to care for the fatherless in the community and just how financially daunting foster parenting can be.
“When we picked her up, she didn’t have a lot and we didn’t have anything. We had to immediately go and stock up. It opened our eyes to how many kids come into care and have nothing. We realized that Russell County, Muscogee County and Lee County didn’t have many resources to pull from. We thought to ourselves, there has to be a way to make this easier,” Meagan Roberts said.
It was February when the little girl came into their lives.
By March, the Lord had revealed and put into action a plan for Meagan and her husband Wes.
“I always heard it takes a village to raise a child. Well it takes a village to foster,” she said. That’s when The Village Foster Care Ministry was born.
It’s a place for foster and adoptive parents to come and shop for clothes, shoes, underwear and essential items for their biological children and the children they’re fostering or have adopted. Everything in the store is donated and a crew of volunteers sort through the donations and tend the store. Everything here is free.
“Most foster homes close their homes within a year because it’s so hard. We need to create a sense of community with these people. We have a lot of foster families who are so willing, but, financially, it’s so hard,” Meagan said. “They need someone to come alongside them.”
It was March when they found a storefront in Smiths Station and went to their church, Golden Acres Baptist, to ask for help. Immediately, the staff jumped on board. Church family helped to sort through the first donations and hang shelves. Robin’s Nest Boutique donated clothing racks. By May, the store was open.
The store is open for the parents and children. Parents do have to present proof, either by court documents, foster care paperwork or through a social worker, that they have custody. Then, each month, they can shop for 15 items free of charge.
More than that, when a child comes into emergency care, Meagan, Wes and volunteers meet the social worker and new family with a packed bag of clothes, toiletry items, diapers if needed, shoes and pajamas.
“This is so at least these foster families can get through the first few days until they can come back here and shop or go shopping,” Meagan said. “We’ve been out to dinner when a call comes in late at night. We drop what we’re doing and come pack a bag.”
In June alone, the store sent out 489 items to help 60 foster children.
“It’s been neat to see a vision we prayed over two and a half years ago, and got frustrated that God wasn’t doing anything, come to fruition. He had to prepare our hearts until we were in the middle of foster care. I would not have understood the need until I was getting my hands dirty in foster care,” she said.
Golden Acres Baptist Church supports the ministry financially. The Way Church also sends financial support to make the ministry possible for the community.
Volunteers have come to help the ministry including high school-aged kids.
“God has even lit a spark in the younger generation to help. There are youth groups signed up to help all this month,” Meagan said. “It had been absolutely mind blowing at how far we’ve come.”
As for donations, The Village always needs formula, diapers and wipes. Meagan said they always try to put those things in a bag when a child comes into emergency care. They also need toiletry items, clothes for children and teens, baby gear, backpacks, diaper bags and blankets.
The Village will host an open house for the community on July 29 from 4 to 6 p.m. ET.
The Village is located at 9209 Lee Rd. 246 Unit D in Smiths Station. The store is open Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET or by appointment by calling (334) 392-0166. Email: email@example.com.