But with the decision comes the reality that at any moment, you may have to care for a child. Rarely are you given much advance notice in order to have clothing, food, even a bed ready for them, said Heidi Murray, a Johnson County foster parent.
“We had a child come to us in the middle of the night, an infant. She had just a shirt and socks on. No diaper bag, no bottle, they didn’t even know what her name was when she was placed with us,” said Murray, who co-founded the nonprofit Resources of Hope to support foster families. “Most kids come with nothing. That’s more common than not.”Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
Resources of Hope has only been in operation for less than a year. But already, its mission has made an impact for local foster families. Besides providing clothing, diapers, formula and other immediate ne, the organization offers support, classes and other services to ensure that the fostering experience is successful for parents and children.
“If you have children coming to you who have nothing, that can be a lot of money to put up at first to provide for those immediate necessities,” said Summer Huber, co-founder of Resources of Hope and a foster parent herself. “Now, families can come here and get what they need for free.”
The small office space in Whiteland is filled with clothes for infants, toddlers, children and teenagers. Shoes are sorted in bins and on shelves. Packages of new underwear, socks and other accessories hang from hooks, ready to be picked up.
Both Murray and Huber have experienced the unique difficulties of being a foster parent. Murray and her husband have been foster parents for more than three years, having 10 different placements over that time. Only two or three came with basic necessities such as clothing. They had to figure out the system on the fly, with little guidance as they attempted to navigate the unexpected.
“We went that first time to pick up donations, and thought it would be a few things. It ended up being a storage unit full of clothing,” Murray said. “We started taking it home truckload by truckload.”
Very quickly, it became clear that this was a huge need, and would require more space than just her garage.
In addition to being a foster parent herself, Huber has a background in social work and wanted to earn her master’s degree in it. They decided in May 2018 to turn the effort into a recognized nonprofit group in order to serve more children and offer more services.
The organization has been serving families since October. People can come to the office and shop for the items that they need. Kids can point out the styles, colors and characters that they like. Parents can get the exact pants or shirts or accessories that they need.
“It’s unique. There are a lot of closets like this in Marion County, but it’s more like a bag pickup. You never really know what you’re going to get,” Huber said. “We wanted to let families come in and shop.”
The growth of Resources of Hope has been on a steadily upward trajectory. The group has moved from Murray’s home to an office in Whiteland to a larger office that is now their headquarters. In their first month, they served 55 children. More and more people have continued to come.
In December, Murray and Huber worked with Leadership Johnson County to collect toys and new pajamas to give local foster children for Christmas. The area community responded, donating 450 toys, more than 120 pairs of pajamas and $2,425 in cash donations.
“That just wouldn’t have been possible without (Leadership Johnson County’s) support and the community around them,” Huber said.
A specific room has been set aside in the organization’s new home for training sessions such as prevention of sexual abuse and suicide. The group plans to have foster parent support groups so area parents can connect and form a community.
“Our whole mission is to meet the emotional and physical ne of foster children living in Johnson and surrounding counties. A big part of that is providing support for foster families, because if the families aren’t being supported, they can’t support that foster child,” Huber said.
Resources of Hope also has formed Teen Connect, a group for young people who are in foster care so they can connect. Sessions would include craft nights, going to see movies together and other fun-filled activities.
“Foster care can be isolating in general for youth, especially when you’re coming from a culture or area or neighborhood that is totally different from where you are now moving to. It can be hard to find people to connect with,” Huber said. “Coming to Teen Connect, everyone who is there is in foster care.”
The growth Resources of Hope has experienced has been made possible by support from all over the Johnson County community. The organization will continue to reach out to the community, accepting monetary donations as well as gently used and new clothing. A fundraising gala is planned for June to help generate more funding, and the organization is one of the charities that will benefit from the annual Rock the Block event in April.
But Huber and Murray have both found that a large segment of the population — both foster parents and the general public — is unaware of the work they’re doing.
“The main challenge is getting the word out there, and letting people know our specific ne. The people we have found have been really supportive, but we’re serving 20,000 children in foster care in the state of Indiana. We have people come from all over,” Huber said.
Where: 410 U.S. 31 Suite R, Whiteland
Founders: Heidi Murray and Summer Huber
Programs:A clothing closet available to provide up to a week’s worth of clothing for children in foster care, including shoes, socks, underwear and other accessoriesFoster parent and community training, including suicide prevention and sexual abuse preventionSupport for foster parentsActivities and meetings for teens in foster care
How to help:Monetary donations, which can be done on the organization’s websiteGently used or new clothing (nothing stains, rips, etc.)Big ne: Toddler underwear, 2T to size 6; toddler socks; diapers and wipesCorporate and individual sponsorships for its programs are also being accepted