Now this is a story all about how
my life got flipped-turned upside down.
I'd like to take a minute
just sit right there
I'll tell you all about how I became the Director of FSO....
In the summer of 2004, I went on a mission trip to Namibia with Ouachita Baptist University. We did a lot of things on that trip and one day we went to an orphanage where all the children's parents had died from AIDS. It was my first real experience with orphans and I left with tears streaming down my face. My life plan prior to this day had been to be a missionary teacher and live in a mud hut in Africa, but after this day, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was calling me to work with orphans in some way in my life.
When I graduated from Ouachita in 2006 with my teaching degree, I wanted to teach in an orphanage in a Spanish-speaking country because I was conversational in Spanish. So, I Googled "Spanish-speaking orphanages" and found 2 that I liked, one in Mexico and one in Honduras. It was going to be easier for me to go to Mexico because it was cheaper and people responded to me faster so I had decided that was where I was going. Then one day, I got a call from someone at World Gospel Outreach in Honduras and after that phone call, I didn't hear another word from the people in Mexico...God had closed the door. So, a few months later, I packed my bags and flew to Honduras for a 1 year teaching assignment without knowing who would pick me up at the airport.
While in Honduras, I learned that so many of the "orphans" actually had living parents. Some of them had abusive parents and some of them had poor parents who couldn't provide for their needs. This opened my eyes to the world of foster care.
When I returned to the United States from Honduras, I taught for 2 years in North Little Rock, got married, moved to Texarkana and continued teaching, but the idea of fostering and working with "orphans" was still in my head. In 2011, my husband and I bought our first home (which had an extra bedroom) and both started teaching at Highland Park Elementary school. Around Christmas, I saw an older lady at church with two small children (who I assumed were foster children) and was reminded of my desire to foster. I told my husband that I thought we were supposed to foster and he said "why don't you just be a CASA advocate?" but I felt in my gut that we were supposed to have children in our home. I knew I wasn't going to change his mind, so I prayed hard for the next couple of weeks that God would change his mind if we were really supposed to be foster parents. During this time, he started working in a classroom for children with behavior challenges. He had to report child abuse on a child, was told that the kids didn't have it "bad enough", and that there weren't enough homes. That day, he came home and told me "If there aren't enough homes, we'll open ours."
We attended a foster parent info meeting in January of 2012, did all our coursework quickly because we were eager, and waited 9 months for CPS to open our home. We were super frustrated during this time because we were ready to start fostering school aged children! But, in September 2012, we were licensed as an open foster home. The next day, we got a call asking us if we would take a one day old baby who had been born exactly an hour before we were listed as an open foster home. Even though it wasn't our plan, we said "yes" and frantically started trying to find things (crib, car seat, etc.) to care for a baby. We had our first placement (who we thought would go home after 2 weeks) and he has forever changed our lives.
Over the course of 7 years, my husband and I fostered 12 different children...the shortest placement was 10 days and the longest was 2 years. Through this process, we realized that there was not a great awareness in Texarkana or a support system for the foster care community. We had prayer meetings at our house and joined with other people at our church (Beech Street FBC) who were interested in helping the community. In 2014, we launched For the Sake of One as a church ministry by providing school supplies for 25 foster children in Bowie county. For three years, we (along with an AMAZING team) ran the church ministry while trying to foster, raise our family, and teach.
In February of 2017, I was getting ready for a Parents' Night Out event and felt God tell me, "Angela, THIS is what I created you to do." At that point in my life, I LOVED teaching and planned to teach for the rest of my life, but I could not shake those words. God brought some amazing people to my life who helped me figure out how to start a nonprofit, I applied for 501(c)3 from the IRS and told my principal I would not be coming back in the fall. A lot of tears were shed my last week of teaching, but I was sure of what God was calling me to do. On my last day of teaching, I left the school for the final time, went home to check the mail and had a letter from the IRS saying that we had received our nonprofit status. God closed one door and opened another on the same day.
In the past (almost) 5 years of running For the Sake of One, I have never once doubted that I am doing what God has called me to do. A month after becoming a nonprofit, CASA started the process of deeding us a building. We opened our first bank account with a $100 check that a former teacher friend gave me on my last day of teaching. I received a congressional pin as an Angel in Adoption. I became a Trauma Competent Caregiver and then a Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner. We have grown from being a board-run nonprofit to having a full-time staff of 3 and part-time staff of 5. And, we just received our biggest grant yet for $44,000 that 100% covers our 3rd employee's salary for the next year. I am continually amazed by God and His provisions.
Over the years, I have had a few people ask me for advice on how to start a successful business or how to start a nonprofit. Unfortunately, I don't really have any advice for these people. All I did was follow God's calling and He took care of the rest. Yes, I am persistent. Yes, I am a hard worker. Yes, I am an optimist who doesn't take no for an answer, but there are a lot of or people like that. I truly believe that the reason For the Sake of One has been so successful is because God is in control of it.
(In case you want to know more about me personally....read my bio. :))