Borrowed Blankets and Broken Hearts:
FUMC Pasadena Welcomes Foster Kids Home
By: Sherri Gragg
“Second Story at First,” a new residential facility for foster children without placement, will begin welcoming children at the end of May. First United Methodist Church Pasadena and Urban Strategies are partnering in the endeavor.
Borrowed Blankets and Office Sofas
There just aren’t enough foster homes, especially for teenage boys.
Every night, all over the United States, older foster care children lie down on their case workers’ office sofas, pull borrowed blankets up under their chins, and dream of some place to call home.
Tennessee. Indiana. Arizona. Kansas…
Dallas. San Antonio. Austin. Houston…
This May 14th, FUMC Pasadena will make a difference when they welcome 16 teen boys into their new residential facility, “Second Story at First.”
“A little over a year ago, we heard about foster kids sleeping in their case workers’ offices overnight. That touched our hearts,” said FUMC Pasadena Senior Pastor, Dr. Will Reed. “As a church we began wondering if there was something we could do to help serve foster kids who have nowhere to go,”
A Partnership to Provide for Kids
First Methodist Church Pasadena began by reaching out to two organizations that have long been in the trenches working with at-risk youth, Houston reVision and Urban Strategies. In December 2016, as FUMC Pasadena buzzed with the joy of Advent, representatives from the two organizations joined the church leadership on a tour of the church’s facility. As the group evaluated the resources available, they began dreaming of creating a space for boys between the ages of 12 and 17 who have been unable to receive a placement in traditional foster care.
Over the next year, FUMC Pasadena and Urban Strategies worked tirelessly to bring the vision to reality. While Urban Strategies undertook the tremendous challenge of obtaining the proper licensing and a contract with the state of Texas, FUMC Pasadena completed extensive renovations to their facility. The space once used for ministry has been completely transformed to provide a safe and loving home for the boys, including four large bedrooms and a lounge area. The Texas Annual Conference made it possible for FUMC Pasadena to retrofit existing restrooms to include showers.
Second Story at First
April 12, 2018, FUMC Pasadena and Urban Strategies hosted Pasadena Mayor, Jeff Wagner, and Greg Abbot, Office of the Governor, for the ribbon cutting ceremony for “Second Story at First.”
While the church is providing the space for the residential facility along with 25 trained volunteers, Urban Strategies will take charge of the day to day operations. Additionally, “Second Story at First” is working closely with Pasadena Independent School District to provide the best possible educational experience for each child.
Love, Forgiveness and Grace
“Second Story at First” will operate as a no-eject facility ensuring each young man who enters their doors will have moved for the last time. “Many of these boys have experienced significant trauma in their lives.” Reed said. “Our hope is that they will finally begin to experience some stability here.”
FUMC Pasadena and Urban Strategies have made tremendous progress over the past year, but in many ways, the work has only begun. In addition to the daily challenge of educating and rearing the boys in their care, they will need to bridge the gap between state funding and the cost of caring for the children. Currently, the state of Texas’ daily rate only funds about 75% of each boy’s expenses. FUMC Pasadena and Urban Strategies will depend on yearly fundraising, as well as an Amazon Smile Account where donors are able to purchase essential items from the facility’s wish list.
The church expects to begin receiving their first residents May 14, 2018. As the boys trade office sofas for beds, they will have the opportunity to leave behind the loneliness, loss and insecurity of their pasts. Reed says FUMC Pasadena is ready to meet those needs. “It is our plan to surround each one of them with a community of love, forgiveness and grace that will be transformational.”