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Beyond PolicyPosted Date: 04/20/2017
By: Amy Webb
Behind every program, every institution and every rule; are real people.
Public servants who help run the programs.
Groups and organizations outside of government who support the work of public servants.
And the list goes on.
That’s why DHS is launching a new blog called “Beyond Policy” as a way to share stories about our employees, our community partners, volunteers, and the people we serve. DHS is filled with public servants who work at this agency because they want to help people in need – not just for the sake of helping but so that the people accessing our services have better lives and eventually no longer need assistance. We partner with amazing groups from the faith-based and non-profit communities to help serve our clients. We also have a network of providers across the state that ensure children, vulnerable adults and people with disabilities have a safe and appropriate place to live or access to needed treatment. Lots of regular people with no particular affiliation help us, too. This space is where we will tell their stories.
We’ll start with children – not children we serve through our early education programs, the child welfare and foster care system, the juvenile justice treatment centers, or the ARKids health insurance program – but three ordinary kids who have done some very extraordinary things to help three organizations that support the foster care system.
You first have to meet Ross and Addison. These adorable 8-year-old friends have partnered up – Addison making lemonade and Ross making homemade cookies – to raise money for the Walk for the Waiting, which is this weekend. This fundraising walk supports the work The CALL, Project Zero and Immerse Arkansas do to help children in the Arkansas foster care system. Last year, Addison and Ross raised $5,801 for the Walk for the Waiting by selling cookies and lemonade. Buoyed by that success, the two second-graders have joined forces again this year with a goal of raising $10,000. As of May 1, Addison and Ross have met their goal! What compassion and drive these two have shown for children waiting for their forever families.
They are absolutely adorable – and more than willing to go on camera and pitch their goodies to perfect strangers if that means meeting their goal. They served as inspiration for me when my 6-year-old daughter, Josie, watched a TV show about kids hosting a garage sale to raise money for charity. Josie wanted to do the same thing, but give the money to children in foster care. She learned about foster care because of the work I do at DHS, and she is beginning to understand that children in foster care are kids just like her. They want toys, fun experiences and a loving family.
I told her about Addison and Ross, and she decided to donate proceeds from the sale to the Walk for the Waiting as well. More than a dozen friends and co-workers donated items for the sale. Several helped price items and work the sale in late April. We raised just over $2,000 in five hours! Foster and adoptive families came out and shopped as did DHS staff, neighbors, friends from church, and strangers. One elderly shopper heard that proceeds would be donated to support foster care and delivered a bag of items for us to sell.
These children – and the adults who help them – are good reminders that it takes more than a government agency to provide services and the right supports to the people DHS serves. So thanks to everyone pitching in to help us – whether you are selling lemonade or providing a safe home for an adult with a developmental disability – we couldn’t do what we do without you.
Amy Webb is the DHS Chief of Communications and Community Engagement. She has worked for the agency for almost six years.
Just a few of Josie's helpers are pictured here. From left, Keith Metz, Shiloh Marlar, Amanda Mills, Tiffany Wright, Beki Dunagan and Mischa Martin.