NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Tidewater Friends of Foster Care says 16 months into the pandemic, they are seeing an increase in the numbers of very young and older kids who are in need of foster care. The children have been displaced, but their birthdays have not been forgotten.
This summer their birthdays will be celebrated with an “assist” from some familiar faces.
This week, members of the Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs team members huddled to prepare birthday presents for children who have been placed into foster care because of crime, domestic violence, and other issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“We know that these types of events are good for the soul — the soul of our team. Where we can embrace the community and it kind of embraces our team in a way to where we have an understanding of giving back,” said head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones.
Across the region, more than 800 children, some with dysfunctional families, are living in the safe harbor of foster homes. The assistant director of the Tidewater Friends of Foster Care organization says the birthday presents are part of a comprehensive package.
“So pairing them up with that one on one tutoring, getting up to par with their reading level and writing, and whatever they are struggling with. So we can improve their chances of graduating and maybe going on to even college,” said Danielle Phillips.
For foster children, their stay is temporary but the foundations of the program are permanent.
“It’s amazing to see when we are there being able to see the child’s face light up or hearing the stories from their foster parents,” added Phillips.
And, for the Lady Monarchs, helping foster children is a team effort.
“We have an understanding of giving back and how we service to one another so it’s all about assisting. We assist on the basketball court and we want to assist off the court as well,” added Milton-Jones.