Have you ever wondered how foster children and families receive help and support? Well, we had the pleasure of speaking with Ann Hughes, the Executive Director of Friends of Foster Children Forever (FFCF), to learn what it truly is all about.
The mission behind it all
The Friends of Foster Children Forever is a local non-profit organization in the Southwest Florida area. They strive to help children all across the area to succeed in life. The organization provides a variety of tools and programs, from supplies to summer camps, but their largest is the Academic Mentoring Program. This is extremely important to them because being prepared academically, will set a child on the right course to success. This mentor program helps the children get excited for school and makes them hopeful for their futures. Aside from the mentorships, they provide after-school programs such as dance, and various sports. They also provide professional tutoring for children who are having a hard time in school or with certain subjects. These tutors will continuously work with them regardless of switching from home to home or school to school.
Behind the scenes
There are a lot of great things provided, but what does it take for this organization to successfully help? Well, the community around them of course! Aside from the wonderful employees, the volunteers are a huge asset. From mentors to running summer camps, FFCF is always looking for help from their local community. On top of providing your time, all donations are welcome and extremely helpful as well. The donations help pay for the professional academic tutors, field trips for the kids, and supplies needed to help. In addition to donations, they hold fundraisers including this years back to school drive, being their most successful one yet! This year, more nonprofits and groups participated than ever before. They were able to distribute 150 backpacks, with 500 still left to give. On top of the backpacks they were able to provide uniforms for children whose school does not supply them. The organization is always prepared by providing an emergency backpack for the children who are taken from a home in an emergency or short notice. These emergency backpacks include, clothes, pajamas, blankets, tooth brush/tooth paste, and a stuffed animal or toy.
Including everything they provide, the FFCF also encourages field trips for the children. They have different trips based on age groups. For the elementary school kids they will take them to Legoland, and for the high school kids they will take them to Busch Gardens. These field trips allow the children to have an outlet by spending time focused on fun and excitement rather than the stress they undergo on a daily basis. Also, during Christmas time, the organization does a gift giving. What this entails is, they will pair the children up with a volunteer and they go to pick out gifts for their family from Walmart. Then later in the year, for the caregivers/guardians they will take them to pick out toys and gifts based on what their child likes. During the holidays they provide wrapping paper, and on December 21st, they will be holding a Holiday Toy Fair.
Hope for the Future
We asked Ann what her favorite part of working for the organization was and this is what she told us. “It gives foster children hope for a better future, they start with kids when they are infants and will follow them into their 20’s in some cases.” This is extremely important for a child as they grow because it provides comfort and stability to have people who will continue to work with them regardless of how much they move around. By providing that stability, the children have a better opportunity in having a wonder and successful future. Anything helps, even if its just your time. So, if you are interested in foster care, volunteering, or donating to the Friend of Foster Children Forever please click on the link below and follow their website.