Every Child Needs A Family

Meet Tommy, he is 16 years old. Both of Tommy’s parents died approximately one year apart. Tommy was only 10 years old. Devastated and grief-stricken, Tommy moved into the home of relatives. The living arrangement was disastrous… Tommy came to Agape and began his journey in foster care. When Tommy came to Agape he was emotionally paralyzed and reclusive. He did not talk. He did not make eye contact. He threw violent tantrums. Tommy’s refuge from his pain was to hide in a closet. Thanks to you, ALL of that has changed!

For nearly 60 years Agape has devoted its resources to serving abused, neglected and abandoned children by providing safe, nurturing environments. For decades Agape has been a lifeline to children and families that were in despair, and we’ve remained steadfast in our goal to provide an opportunity to heal and grow through development of cutting edge programs and activities. Your continued support has enabled us to expand our programs, serve more children and impact countless lives.

Double Your Impact

We are so grateful for your support and we’d like to tell you about a unique opportunity. Thanks to the generosity of a Matching Grant Challenge by an anonymous donor, when you donate between today and December 31, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar up to $25,000. That’s right – you can double your donation to support the life-changing services Agape provides to children and families.

Think about that….think about how you can transform the life of a child or teen that has been caught in the grips of a painful and traumatic situation that is beyond their control. Every child does need a family, however that family must be one that cares for, and nurtures the child’s mind, body and soul. That is what we do at Agape.

Children and families rely on Agape to be a beacon of light; we rely on your partnership and commitment to fulfill our mission and vision. There are two ways to make your donation:  (1) Donate online, (2) Send a check or credit card payment by mail.

The Rest Of The Story…

As for Tommy, with the devotion of Tommy’s foster parents Larry and Jean, the dedication of Agape Villages Social Workers, the grace of God and Tommy’s personal resilience and unwavering determination, today, Tommy exemplifies success. He is currently a Junior in high school and is enrolled in a specialized program that combines the curriculums of high school with junior college – when Tommy graduates from high school he’ll receive both a diploma and an AA degree! Tommy’s in the process of obtaining his driver’s license, and by participating in various Agape Villages’ Independent Living Skills Programs, Tommy in on the path to self-sufficiency and a fulfilling, joyful life. In heart, mind and spirit, Tommy is truly a member of Larry and Jean’s family. Affectionately known as “Uncle Tommy” to Larry and Jean’s grandchildren, Tommy has found his family, and we all know, family is forever – we look forward to your continued partnership.

For The Children,

Janet Kleyn

Posted in News, Stories |

ELF Someone to benefit Agape Villages

ELF Someone! We are partnering again with the Tri-Valley Church to bring joy into your neighbors’ yards with balloons, elf cutouts and an ELFed sign. If the house you want to ELF is in Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, Tracy, Danville, San Ramon, just pay a small fee and the church will organize the ELFing starting Nov 30 leading up to Christmas Day. All proceeds benefit Agape Villages.

Posted in Events |

Where Do Our Donations Go?

It seems like I was just making (and promptly) breaking my resolutions for 2017…and now 2018 is almost here!

This is the time of year we reflect on the progress we’ve made and the setbacks we’ve encountered. We take stock of our lives, deciding what needs changing and what’s perfect the way it is. And, with Christmas just around the corner, it’s a natural time for us to reflect on the many, many blessings we have in our lives.

At Agape, our biggest blessing is the happy, healthy children and loving families we serve. It’s what we do, it’s why we’re here, it’s what matters most. But that blessing would not be possible without the help of Agape’s generous donors–our other big blessing.

By now you’ve heard that an anonymous donor has pledged to match every gift made from now until December 31st. As you consider taking advantage of this opportunity, we’d like to highlight the good work that your gift makes possible.

First and foremost, you support the recruitment, certification, and training of foster families. It is not an easy process, it takes time and staff (our Program Director, Cheryl Youngblood, leads the PRIDE training herself) and a lot of paperwork, but it is the heart of Agape. Where would we be without these loving families who open their hearts and homes to the innocent, vulnerable children who need them?

After the family is certified (perform happy dance here), the children can be placed in the home. Although they are part of the certification process, this is where the real work of Agape’s social workers begins. They make home visits at least once a week and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This is possible because our social workers have no more than 15 children on their caseload. This allows them not just to meet the mandates of the state, but to truly focus on the needs of the children and families. If a parent has a need or concern, their caseworker is always available to help. Our social workers have the time to get to know the children well, so they can truly do what is in the child’s best interest.

Agape’s purpose is, of course, to provide a safe and loving home for the kids in our care. But we also pride ourselves on providing our kids with opportunities for personal enrichment and growth as well. Agape kids are able to take art and music classes, go to summer camp, participate in sports, and so many other things that make childhood what it should be. We have a girl’s group that meets monthly, allowing participants to socialize with a group of peers to whom they can truly connect. For Agape’s teens (15 – 21), we offer the Transitional Youth Program which teaches the skills needed to successfully navigate the adult world. Who knows what these activities may inspire? Activities made possible because of your generosity.

And we have a dedicated staff who keep everything running smoothly (which is no small feat).

As you know, all of these things cost money (and this was just a small snapshot of all that your gift supports). We know that making your gift is a sacrifice. The money that you send to Agape is money that is not going to something else–a Christmas gift, a vacation, a pumpkin spice latte, another worthy cause. We want to acknowledge and honor that sacrifice. We want to thank you for it. We believe in what we do and your support makes what we do possible. Thank you for your belief in us and our mission. Thank you for caring about children you’ve never met. Thank you for showing it in a tangible way. Thank you for blessing us.

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Giving Tuesday is Tomorrow!

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving. Everyone, anywhere, can participate! We would love for you to consider making your donations to Agape so we can continue to provide safe loving homes for kids in need.

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Thankful for Foster Parents

This time of year gets so busy and we wanted to take a moment each day this week to focus on being thankful, because we really do have so much to be thankful for! Today we are thankful for all our foster parents! They open their hearts and homes for kids in crisis and we could never say thank you enough!

Liz and Richard Messenger are a wonderful example of one of our many loving foster homes. The Messengers were empty nesters, 3 of their 5 biological children had married and moved out when they started fostering with Agape. Their home had always been the place for their children’s friends to hang out on weekends an the family often took in relatives or family friends who needed a place to go. Fostering was just a continuation of what they had been doing for years and what a great environment for the kids to be in. They took in several groups of kids and realized that teenage boys is who they can care for best, which is one of the hardest to place. Because of foster parents like the Messengers, abused and neglected kids now get to experience homes full of love.

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AmazonSmile Donations

Recently I saw one of our former Agape foster children. Zakaria is now a beautiful young woman, poised, self-confident, accomplished. I am thankful for Patrick and Janet Mitchell who so lovingly invited her into their family and their hearts.

People sometimes ask me, “Why do you need to raise money?” Agape relies on fundraising to provide the quality of program our youth need and deserve. This includes Master’s level social workers to work with the children. We have enrichment programs such as music, dance and sports, which are fun but also therapeutic. We recruit, train and then support the best possible foster parents.

Our social workers are in the foster home every week to be sure the child and family are supported with what they need. We provide intensive training which goes above and beyond minimum requirements. We want our children to have the best!

You can be assured that every dollar contributed will be put to good use. Each child, like Zakaria, is important and each donation – large or small – is important. We can’t do our work with abused and neglected children and youth without generous, compassionate donors.

@AmazonSmile makes it easy for you to donate so we can touch more foster kids’ lives. All you have to do is shop Amazon through this special link, smile.amazon.com/ch/68-0226944, and a portion of your purchase goes to us.

Janet Kleyn, President, Agape Villages, Inc.

Posted in News |

Quarterly Newsletter – October 2017

Please read the Agape Villages October Newsletter, “The Love Letter,” to learn more about all of the people and programs that are changing the lives of foster children each day!

click here to download the PDF file.

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Agape’s Support Makes All The Difference!

We work with our foster parents as a team to help out our foster kids. We’re so fortunate to hear stories like this:

Written by Allison Rangel, Agape Foster Parent:

In January of 2013 Dave Roach, our Agape Social Worker, called me about a placement for a 13-month-old little girl. At that time, we had already had a 3 month old and 20 month old in our home. We said “yes!”

When we received this little girl, she was scared, terrified, and screamed most of the time. She came with nothing. Agape was on the ball and the next day dropped off a load of supplies. During the next five months, with prayer, Agape’s help, and our amazing Agape social worker, we watched this little girl turn from fear, panic, and anger to loving, nurturing, joyful, and funny.

We were on the path to adopt her when her family members stepped up to the plate to adopt her. After the due diligence was done, this little girl was removed from our home and placed with her relatives. However, this lasted only for three months. Unexpectedly, we received another call that they would like to place this little girl back in our home with the intention of adoption. Once again, Agape was amazingly on the ball. They helped make the transition of her back into our home go very smoothly by outfitting her, providing age appropriate toys, and most important to her – a blanket.

We could not be the foster parents we are for these children without Agape. We could not provide for these children like we need to without the love and support from Agape. The foster children that have come into our home have all felt the love of their Agape workers and they have returned that love back to them. From our experience, Agape continues to go above and beyond to support their foster families. Thank you, Agape!

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Friday FAQ’s: What is Orphan Sunday?

This past week you may have seen an email or Facebook post about Orphan Sunday, which is coming up on Sunday, November 12th. Orphan Sunday was originally inspired by the efforts of a church in Zambia. An American pastor was visiting the church, and sat in awe as people who were struggling themselves all answered their pastor’s passionate call to care for the orphans in their community by bringing forward food and money. Some members of the congregation even gave the shoes off their feet. Orphan Sunday then became a movement throughout churches in Zambia, and was brought to the U.S. by Every Orphan’s Hope (a trademark of the Christian Alliance for Orphans).

CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) wants Orphan Sunday to be a local effort, led by individual churches. They hope to see each church discover the best way for their congregation to get involved with addressing the needs of children in foster care and orphanages both here in the U.S. and abroad. Orphan Sunday events vary, for example, events in previous years included special messages on God’s heart for the orphan, prayer gatherings, fasts and simple meals, student-led fundraisers, foster family recruiting and live concerts.

A story found on the testimonials page of the Orphan Sunday website details how one church was transformed by its participation in Orphan Sunday.

“Clay and Tami joined Emmaus Church in Redlands, CA along with their two daughters adopted from foster care. Tami approached her pastor about doing an Orphan Sunday event and he was very supportive of the idea. The last few years Orphan Sunday at Emmaus Church has involved a message about “God’s Heart for the Orphan” and a panel of adoptive and foster parents. Emmaus Church encourages everyone to participate. Clay relayed a story of a young single man who doesn’t feel he’s in a place to adopt but knows he has a part to play in supporting families who do.

Orphan Sunday at Emmaus is one of the largest attendance Sundays of the year. It has grown the church as well, from 2 adopted children in Clay and Tami’s family to over 20 children who have been placed in families from U.S. foster care and international adoption. They even joke that there was a couple who didn’t come on Orphan Sunday because they knew if they did, they’d be signing adoption papers. Turns out they didn’t attend but months later adoption papers were signed!

What’s encouraging about Emmaus Church is the ethos of “everyone has a part to play.” Not everyone is called to adopt and there are numerous ways to support Christian orphan care, from respite care to preparing meals, and mentoring a child in foster care to financially supporting an orphan care ministry or organization.”

Agape Villages Foster Family Agency would love to partner with any church or other faith-based community that would like to do an Orphan Sunday with their congregation. We can have someone come and speak about foster care in your church’s community, the need for foster families, and ways to get involved. If you belong to a church or other faith community, and would like to participate in Orphan Sunday, please contact Katy Partan at kpartan@agapevillages.org.

“Orphan Sunday engages God’s people to put our FAITH into ACTION…as we unite to advocate for the most vulnerable.”

– ANDY LEHMAN, Vice President, Lifesong for Orphans

CAFO has put together a lot of great materials that offer ideas and ways to get involved. Click HERE to view their resources and suggestions for involvement in the foster care system.

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Friday FAQ’s: What support does Agape Villages offer?

Making the decision to foster or adopt is a process. There are a lot of questions to be asked, and concerns to be addressed. At Agape Villages, we understand your need to ask questions, be heard, and feel supported. This blog series, Friday FAQ’s, is just one more way that we are trying to make it easier for prospective families to learn about fostering and what to expect.

A common question people ask is why they should choose Agape Villages, i.e., what makes us different? What can we offer? What support do we provide?

Agape’s support for families begins the moment you start the application process. Our staff will walk you through each step and provide personal, one-on-one follow-up as needed. 

Once you are certified and have a child placed with you, the support continues through a number of services and programs:

  • Weekly in-home visits by an Agape social worker
  • Monthly Foster Parent/Resource Family support group meetings
  • Specialized trainings based on the individual child placed in your home (if needed)
  • Clothing Closets which offer a broad selection of items including clothes, toys, strollers, and other supplies (thank you to Sleep Train/Mattress Firm and other generous donors for stocking our closets!)

Additionally, Agape prioritizes our children and we strive to ensure that they get to experience childhood as it should be – a time of fun, learning, nurturing, and enrichment. Agape Villages offers several unique programs for our children. Our Enrichment Program offers families reimbursement (up to $50 per month) for various extracurricular activities for our foster kids. Often, foster children are left out of things like team sports, music lessons, and other opportunities simply due to lack of funding. We do not want our kids to miss those opportunities.

For girls ages 9-21, we offer our Teen Girls Group, a support group that meets bi-monthly and engages our pre-adolescent and teen girls in a variety of activities. It provides a safe space for the girls and lets them connect with others who have gone through similar experiences.

Our Transitional Living Skills program is a semester-long curriculum for teens 15-21 designed to prepare them for independent living after leaving foster care. We cover essential knowledge including interview skills, financial literacy, college applications and financial aid, and more.

Finally, to help cultivate a sense of community and fellowship, we offer two annual events for all foster families and their children. One is the Annual Family Picnic at the beginning of summer, which includes food, entertainment, and music. The other is the Annual Christmas Party which includes games, food, and presents for every child.

This post is merely a brief summary of the support Agape Villages provides, but we hope it gives you some insight as to what you can expect as a foster family with our organization. We strive to provide the very best programs and services to both our families and our children, with the ultimate goal of having every child in a safe, loving and stable home. Please contact us if you would like to learn more, at 800-566-2225.

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