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Borrowed Hearts offers permanent help to foster families

Mar. 11—Foster parents in Daviess County have a quiet partner available for their corner. An organization called Borrowed Hearts is trying to make a difference by providing foster families with a helping hand.

"We call it Borrowed Hearts because we are borrowing the heart of a child and as foster families, we only have it for a short time. We are trying to reach out and help the kids," said Borrowed Hearts vice-president Debbie Bickley. "It is all about the kids, showing them love and showing them what they need while giving a helping hand to the foster parents as well."

"Being a foster parent is not easy, especially during the first couple of years when they don't have any financial support," said board secretary Cheryl Thorne. "There is little financial help for foster parents and then trying to get through that taking on more family."

Borrowed Hearts has set up a relief area for those foster parents. Located up the winding stairs at the Westminster Presbyterian Church sits a large room with rack after rack of new children's clothes and shoes, bedding and personal hygiene items.

"People began bringing in things and clothes and we built quite a gathering of things because the community has been quite amazing to donate," said Susan Spaulding, Borrowed Hearts treasurer. "We have served over 130 children in the last year."

Among the items Borrowed Hearts offers the kids are suitcases to take their new items home. The Borrowed Hearts team says the small cases provide a powerful message to the kids.

"We don't want to just stuff the things into trash bags. The kids already feel they are being rejected as it is. Their family is leaving them and they are going to another family. If you put all of their things in a trash bag, imagine what that makes them feel like," said Thorne. "We want to give them a suitcase so that they can have a sense of ownership and belonging. It is a message that they are somebody and not just trash. They may be going to a temporary home, and that home is going to love them in a way they may not have ever realized."

The success of the donations and the willingness of the organization to help foster parents now has the organization trying to figure future things out. One of those things is the location. While the church space is good and the rent (free) is right, it is located at the top of a large stairwell. That is putting a couple of expensive items at the top of their wish list.

"The church loves having the organization up here. It is just difficult for people to get up here," said Thorne. "We are working on putting an elevator in but that is going to take a while. This area was always meant to be kind of temporary. We are looking for a building and since it will be funded by grant or donation, a building with an exorbitant rent will not fit for us. Still, getting a building of our own is part of our dream state. We want to do that here in Daviess County."

"We need a lift," said Bickley. "We get winded going up and it is even more difficult when we are trying to bring donations upstairs."

Those big wishes right now rub up against bigger needs to help the kids caught in the foster system.

"The dollar is always the concern. We don't want to spend money on things that are not supplying a service to the kids and the foster parents," said Spaulding.

Foster care is something that has been growing in southern Indiana for the last several decades. The need for foster parents has grown to the point where 100 kids from Daviess County were placed in foster care in other counties. More than anything Borrowed Hearts wants to make being a foster child and a foster parent easier.

"We are all volunteers. We don't have any income. Everything is donated or comes from grants. We have no income to be paying big rent.We are trying to get the word out to people that we are here," said Bickley. "Our first desire is to help the children. We will make it work wherever we are. We want to get the word out that we are here. That we are here to help the kids and those foster parents."

"Getting out information about who we are and what we do has been difficult. People don't realize how large the need is for foster care," said Thorne. "We don't have enough families to take them. This is well needed in our county and we need more help. If a foster family has a need we are going to try and fill it."

People who want to get involved can reach out to Borrowed Hearts at 812-642-9104.