Nearly 424,000 children are in the United States’ the foster care system, with over five hundred children in foster homes in Northwest Arkansas alone. However, only 180 families are prepared to properly take care of these children. These devastating statistics negatively illustrate the impact on childrens’ mental health, communication skills and personal well-being from these conditions.
There is an urgency to support and assist the foster care system through faith and community building more and more. To address this need, ministries like Building Villages come in.
Building Villages is an on-campus Christian Ambassadors United for Service and Evangelism (CAUSE) ministry that seeks to build communities around youth in foster care. The ministry started this year, with the main goal to show Christ’s love for children and families involved in the foster care system. This service would be performed through prayer, encouragement, letter writing, community, connections and other activities.
Founders Tessa Doerstling and Camryn Holley, senior family and human service majors, said, “We hope to educate and bring awareness to college students about the struggling system of foster care by bringing in guest speakers and connecting students with the foster care community around them.” Both girls emphasized their passion for loving and caring for those impacted by the foster care system and seek to make a difference in their lives.
Many families within the foster system desire to network with other families in similar situations to establish strong connections with one another. Building Villages seeks to be the bridge where students build community with the children, while parents enjoy a restful evening together.
Building Villages seeks to further educate John Brown University students on the matter of foster care and to be the solution to the problem. Meetings are every other Wednesday outside on the quad to follow the coronavirus guidelines and regulations set by the university.
Building Villages was launched at the beginning of the Fall 2020 school year and developed a great turnout of students eager to learn and grow their knowledge about foster care. The team is currently serving by writing letters, hosting educational sessions for JBU students and praying for the families impacted by foster care.
In the future, they are hoping to do outdoor service projects that maintain social distancing while directly blessing foster families. This includes raking leaves, completing yard work, performing tasks around the house and building relationships and trust with the families in the Northwest Arkansas community.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, Building Villages plans to host events on campus, like a foster parents’ night out or movie nights. “By hosting events, we are bringing foster families on campus to meet each other, spur on the community and allow the students to serve,” said Doerstling and Holley.
To stay updated on all things Building Villages related, follow @buildingvillages_jbu on Instagram.