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Sherry Thomas-Cloud

A message from CEO Sherry Thomas-Cloud

March 5, 2018

Dear Friends:

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." ‑ Desmond Tutu

Family & Children Services has been, and continues to be, that source of light and hope for children and families in the foster care system. Please read the story below about our Foster Care and Adoption Program and about Lisa Thornton, one of our foster moms. Lisa has cared for 13 children and adopted one of them. It's the child that Lisa didn't adopt, however, that makes her even more of a role model. I hope this story makes you consider becoming one of our foster parents or that you spread the word to someone you think might make a good foster parent. Because, as Family Support and Licensing Supervisor Krista Ploski points out, the number of children needing foster care remains high, so we need to recruit more good foster parents to care for them.

In another story about renewal and growth, Quality Services and Compliance Manager Rebecca Clore tells us about the Agency's recently launched three-year strategic plan. Nearly a year in the planning and involving agency employees from frontline caregivers and mid-level managers to senior administrators and board members, this strategic plan will help the Agency continue to be fiscally sound, help people, and stay relevant, as we carry out our mission.

Finally, please read the update on HANDLE WITH CARE, our annual fund that aids some of the most vulnerable children, adults, and families in our community. Family & Children Services' clients like Coree, Chyna, Joannie, and their families were able to overcome major life barriers with the support of the HANDLE WITH CARE fund. I believe that there is no problem or life circumstance that can't be solved with hope and the support of caring individuals. Together, we are that hope for the future!


With Gratitude,

Sherry Thomas-Cloud
Sherry Thomas-Cloud, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer
Family & Children Services

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Rebecca Clore

Rebecca Clore

"Be Fiscally Sound, Help People, Stay Relevant" – A Three-Year Strategic Plan for The Agency

March 5, 2018

Family & Children Services recently implemented a new three-year strategic plan. Developing the plan took the better part of a year and involved employees throughout the organization, plus the board of directors. The result is a plan with three goals: Be Fiscally Sound, Help People, and Stay Relevant.

Quality Services and Compliance Manager Rebecca Clore served in the role of facilitator during the plan's development process. "I was Switzerland," she says with a chuckle, "staying neutral and helping move the process along."

We asked Rebecca, CEO Sherry Thomas-Cloud and Board Chair Mac Waldorf about the process of developing the plan; its overall objective, goals, and measurements; what it means for Agency employees, clients, and the community; and more.

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Lisa Thornton

Lisa Thornton

Foster Parents: "A lighthouse to guide children safely home"

March 5, 2018

Lisa Thornton of Kalamazoo has a special place in her heart and her home for traumatized kids. During the past six years, she's taken in 13 children, from newborns to 10-year-olds, who've suffered abuse, neglect, parental abandonment, and family upheaval of all sorts. They've stayed for as short as one month, as long as 22 months.

Lisa is a foster parent. And she encourages others to join her.

"I like to say that I'm a port in a storm, a lighthouse to guide children safely home. That little bit of help can make a huge difference to them."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 687,000 children were in foster care nationwide in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That's about average for the ten years prior.

In Michigan, nearly 13,000 children are currently in foster care. On any given day, about 300 children are looking for a foster family to take them in.

Some of them are right here in our community. In Kalamazoo County, an average of 562 children were in foster care each month in 2017.

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Showing “how important it is to give.”

March 5, 2018

"If I could just get help with this bill."

"If I could just get help for my kids."

"If I could just get through this week."

"If I could just get through this crisis."

Family & Children Services clients face countless barriers to living healthy, successful lives - poverty, poor health, disability, and abuse, are chiefly among these.

Fortunately, our clients have you. Because of your generous gifts to our HANDLE WITH CARE annual fund, many of the nearly 8,000 children and adults we serve each year receive direct assistance and client services that knock down these barriers.

  • HANDLE WITH CARE has been a source of hope to thousands of families for more than 30 years. Every dollar given to this fund goes directly to clients, such as:
  • "Coree," who has heart trouble and, along with her children, documented mental health and emotional disabilities. Gifts to HANDLE WITH CARE fixed the family car so everyone can get to all-important appointments with health care providers.
  • "Chyna," who was determined to go through addiction rehab, but worried how she would keep her home and keep her family intact while she was gone. Gifts to HANDLE WITH CARE paid the rent and power bill until she returned, healthy and grateful.
  • "Joannie" and her young girls, who were escaping an abusive relationship. They spent their days in a local shelter and their nights in churches. With help from our Agency and others, she got back on her feet and found both a job and a safe place to live. HANDLE WITH CARE gifts provided bedding and a dresser for the girls' room, helping everyone through the crisis.

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