BY MENDI FUNK, GRACE ATTENDER & HANDS OF HOPE VOLUNTEER
My name is Mendi. I was blessed to be adopted one month before my fourth birthday. This changed my life forever! Over the years, I have wanted to give back in some way. After much prayer and consideration, I decided that as a single woman who worked full-time, adopting or becoming a foster parent would not be the right path.
In March 2014, I was laid off from my 15+ years in pharmaceutical sales. I always knew that by age 55 I wanted to do something completely different. The Lord decided to move the timeline to age 51. This was a good thing and I felt at peace. For the first time, I truly put my palms up and said, “Lord, please use and guide me in the direction that you want me to go, using the gifts that I’ve been given”.
I have volunteered and served in many areas over the past 25 years. At the Fisher's campus, I met Suzy Roth on a couple occasions (she is a key player with Grace's partner ministry, Hands of Hope). In October 2015, Suzy asked if I would be interested in chaperoning a lunch and painting event for girls in foster care through Hands of Hope Adoption Ministry. Without hesitation, I responded "YES" and asked if she knew that I too was in foster care and adopted. She said, “No, I just felt the nudge to reach out to you.”
That started my passion for involvement with Grace partner, Hands of Hope. I began volunteering with this wonderful organization in a variety of ways. Then, March 2016, at the Every Child Symposium, I attended a talk by a panel of foster parents talking about their experiences (good, bad and ugly). They mentioned the need for respite care. “What is that?” I thought. The next day I reached out to learn more. "Respite Care" is when licensed foster parents offer to give the foster parents a break for a weekend, week, or two weeks. I knew I could do that! I have a nice home with two spare bedrooms and I do not work full time.
That week, I received a name of a woman with DCS, called her, and started the process of becoming a licensed foster parent. Within one month I was licensed, and a week later I took in two girls (sisters) from an emergency situation.
The girls arrived April 28th and left my care July 8th. It was a very stressful 2.5 months, but God, once again, had a huge hand in this process. The girls had huge smiles on their faces upon meeting me. I wondered why they were smiling. They had met me in March at a Hands of Hope foster care event. They remembered me! Wow, I love those God winks!
People often ask me about that experience, and I reply it was the most wonderful and difficult journey! I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to "mother" those girls and pray for them daily to be safe, happy and healthy. I miss and love them. I believe in my heart that I will get to see them again someday, hopefully as happy Christian women.
Now I am taking true short-term respite care kiddos and still volunteering with Hands of Hope. I am excited to join the new initiative to bring Care Communities around Grace Church foster families. Most importantly, I keep my palms up and continually work on LISTENING to him speak to me.
How you can make a difference...
The foster care system is in desperate need due to the alarming opiate crisis in Indiana – and God is calling on his church to respond. Not everyone may be called to be a foster family – but everyone can help:
Join a Care Community to support a foster family, post-adoptive family or Safe Family. Care Community members provide a monthly meal, prayer and simple acts of kindness to families on the front lines.
Come to a training session at Grace Church in October to learn how you can make a difference! This training will teach you about the critical needs facing our foster care communities and what it means to be a part of one. You will also learn practical ways to support foster families. Join us for one of these trainings.
RSVP at handsofhopein.org or just show up!