Lessons From Bonanza

I recently watched a “Bonanza“ rerun about two young boys who had been abandoned by their parents. The younger brother did not speak because of the heartbreak he had been through. The older brother (about 10) was very protective of his younger brother and tried to take the place of his missing parents. A young couple wanted to adopt them, but finding the younger brother unable to talk, decided to only adopt the older brother. When the boys learned of their possible separation, they ran away. A lonely old gentleman who had lost his wife, befriended the boys and gave them unconditional love. His example convinced the young couple to adopt both boys and give them a caring home.

There is no such thing as a throwaway kid. Every child deserves a chance to reach his potential in life. Agape Villages is there to provide these children with a happy, normal life. What can you do to help? Please consider donating time in volunteer service with Agape, prayers for the success of the mission of Agape, or a financial gift to assist in this good work. You’ll feel like you hit a bonanza! I know!

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Tip a Hero Event at Chili’s

Get ready to spend a night with the heroes that help protect our country and benefit Agape Villages at the same time! Join us March 6 at Chili’s in Manteca, 2262 Daniels St, Manteca, CA, 95337. All day Chili’s will be giving back 15% of your meal orders to Agape Villages when you present this flyer. We hope to see you there!

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What To See So We Can Be

The Board of Directors at Agape Villages is made up of a group of diverse individuals who come from a variety of vocational backgrounds. This brings many perspectives to the board as we discuss and make decisions in governing the work of the agency.

Many may know, but I have been a pulpit minister in the Churches of Christ for 46 years now. This explains why I like to write articles for our newsletter which tie into the Christian motivation for our work. This work is, indeed, close to the heart of God. Scriptures speak much about our hearts also! We are challenged to do this work from the heart.

The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter writes to those who are the people of God and encourages His people to see how special they are…a royal priesthood …people belonging to God who have been “called out” of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). We need to see and understand who we are so we can be who we need to be!

The Apostle Paul wants us to see that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10). We see this so we can be about good works!

We continually encourage you to see the opportunities for service through Agape Villages. We are about caring for the children and youth in need of loving foster homes. We keep them safe, meet their needs and help them reach toward a better and brighter future. We help them see how God loves them and cares for them also.

Here’s an important question. “If the ‘called-out’ don’t step up and out to do good, who will?” I believe God wants His people to lead the way in being there to serve children. We are encouraged to do good to all people as we have the opportunity (Galatians 6:10).
Agape Villages is looking for good people with good hearts to take advantage of the opportunities to serve children who need our help. Let us see what we can be!

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They Are All Our Children

A child welfare expert recently commented on some of the problems and challenges in the foster care system, including children moving from home-to-home and the difficulty obtaining counseling for children and youth. He framed it personally when he said, “I look at the overall situation and think none of us would sit still for a minute if this was our child, when in fact, these are ALL our children.”

Yes, children in state custody foster care are, in a very real sense, all “our” children…our responsibility. This highlights one of the biggest challenges we have to overcome. It relates to the following idiom, “If it’s everyone’s responsibility, then it’s no one’s responsibility.” This is mostly true. Why? When it’s also someone else’s responsibility, we let them handle it. If everyone responds this way, no one takes charge.

The antidote to this tendency is for us to be full of compassion. Have you heard that admonition before? Scriptures relate to this often as well as provide other similar encouragements, i.e. be kind, be merciful, be gracious and tenderhearted. What do these have in common? They call upon us to take the concern of those in need personally and get engaged in helping.

We’ve been beating this drum for nearly 60 years now as we continue our outreach to vulnerable children and youth. We are grateful for how so many have joined with us over the years. Even so, there is so much more to do, so many more children and youth in need of homes. We must respond and do more! This is what we are trying to do! Please continue to partner with us as, together, we continue to do something very special for “our” children!

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Investing In Children Is Worth It!

When Ms. Kleyn asked me to write an article regarding children, foster care, etc., I first was inclined to decline saying I was too busy and/or had too many important things to do. Now, I am very glad I accepted.

When you look at the word orphan, we see “a child whose parents are dead or has been abandoned.” If we broaden the definition, we will see neglected or abused children. What are the reasons orphans, adoptions and foster care are not on many people’s radar? I believe, like me, many are too busy to think of helping someone else. We may think of our own children and the investment, time and energy we have put into them. Are we happy with the return? We may remember church members and youth groups, the time, money, energies spent, and looking back we may be wondering, was it worth it?

I would like you to look at these disenfranchised children differently. To see ourselves in these often poor, neglected, lost, abused children. Was there a time when we were without God, lost, poor (economically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) and someone loved us, showed genuine care for us, spent time with us, picked us up, directed us until we were able to get up on our feet? Looking back, we see God’s hand every step of the way. Let’s all remember today that someone helped us so we can help others. The question at the table for the ones that have been helped is, was it worth it for you?

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Interested In Becoming A Foster Parent?

So…you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent? You’ve realized it’s time to do something with all that love in your heart, but you’d like some more info on how to get started? You’re in luck! I wrote this post to fill you (yes you—the one reading this right now) in on the basics!

Let me start with the 2 most popular questions. 1. How old do I have to be? 2. Do I have to be married? Whether you’re living the single life or you’re someone’s other half, you can be a foster parent. Unlike Facebook, we’re not too concerned with your relationship status. As for the age requirement, you only need to have reached your 18th birthday. Whether that happened this last birthday or quite a few birthdays ago is of no consequence: there’s no age limit on loving and caring for a child.

In addition to being at least 18, you must hold a valid California driver’s license to start the process of becoming a foster parent. Ask any parent—if you have kids, you’ll be driving! You don’t need to own your own home (another popular question), but you do need to have enough income to support your household. The foster family reimbursement (yes, foster families do receive financial assistance for the children placed in their care) won’t be taken into consideration when making this calculation. So at least one adult must be employed or have some other sufficient source of income.

Confident that you’ve met those requirements? Give us a call! 1-800-566-2225. No, seriously. That’s how you start the process. We’ll do a phone interview and then have you complete the application packet(s). After that, an Agape rep will perform the initial home inspection and you’ll provide us with copies of a variety of documents. You (and anyone in your house who’s 18 or older) will need to be fingerprinted. You’ll also need a health screening and TB test. To prepare you for your new role as a foster parent, Agape Program Director Cheryl Youngblood will guide you through the Agape Pre-Service Training (formerly “PRIDE”). You’ll need your CPR/First Aid certification and, if you have a body of water on your property, you’ll need to complete a water certification course (Agape offers one free of charge). Finally (whew!), an Agape social worker will conduct a home inspection and interview. That’s the short and sweet version, anyway. This is a basic overview of the process (which averages 6-10 weeks), not a step-by-step guide. Don’t be alarmed/surprised/dismayed when there’s more to the process than what I’ve got here!

Still reading? Good. I saved the most important requirement for last. To be an Agape foster parent, you MUST have a heart for kids. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to open your home to a child—bless you for being willing to do it. But bless you a hundred times…bless you a thousand times…bless you for eternity for being ready and willing to open your heart to kids who may never have known what it is to be safe and loved. Or who haven’t known it in so long that they’ve forgotten what it feels like. Bless you for having that heart and for actually using it. We need it. We need you.

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ELFing Fun!

During the month of December the Tri-Valley Church took donations to ELF someone. They brought joy into our neighbors’ yards with balloons, elf cutouts and an ELFed sign through Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, Tracy, Danville and San Ramon. It ended up raising $2,000 for Agape Villages!

Thank you so much Tri Valley Church and all the people who participated in the ELFing fun!

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Christmas Parties

Agape Villages celebrated its Christmas parties this year with pizza and cake, games and gifts for all the foster kids. We had a party in each of our 3 regions. Thank you to all of the Agape staff who worked so hard to make this such a memorable night for the kids and families. Thank you to all who donated so that we could provide these gifts.

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Thank You Pleasanton North Rotary!

Agape Villages was thrilled to be the beneficiary of Fund-A-Need at Pleasanton North Rotary’s A Starry Night event in September. Rotary members Tom Hall and Tami Hennegan presented the check to Janet Kleyn and Jen Oxe on December 1. The check was for $28,030! We are overwhelmed and so thankful.

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We are an Inspire Giving Semi-finalist!

Janet Kleyn and Courtney McAlister were pleased to attend an event on Nov 30 in Citrus Heights, where Agape Villages Foster Family Agency and 2 other semi-finalists for the Inspire Giving grant were featured. Janet and Courtney answered a lot of questions about the Agape Transitional Youth Program, which is a year long program that helps prepare youth from age 14 – 21 to be happy, productive adults.

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