What another great week at Arizona Helping Hands.  As always, we made friends – foster parents who came to us for assistance with their basic needs to make their homes comfortable and safe left with beds, cribs, clothing, diapers, safety products and more.  And then there are the children.  The boys and girls whose smiles fill our lobby and who play in our small play area while foster mom or dad take care of business.  One little boy arrived with his foster mom to pick up a Birthday Dreams package we had made especially for him, and I made a new friend.

I sat down on the sofa next to the most remarkable little boy.  “H” is turning 3.  His foster mom has had him in their home for almost a month now and he is showing signs of progress, progress that has been much delayed.  He now weighs a whopping 21 pounds.  When we offered H a treat from our snack cabinet he chose two items.  He pointed to the water cooler when he saw me filling my water cup and proceeded to drink multiple cups.  Motioning for help with the fruit rollup package, I got him to say “Pees” and what I interpreted as “thank you”.  We laughed about how “siky” (sticky) the treat was as we passed it back and forth.  Foster mom says he has a constant appetite,  he will eat anything and is finally starting to gain a (very) little weight.  The seizures and other medical issues require constant attention in this foster home that’s certified for medically fragile kids.

Neglect, abuse, medical issues, incompetent adults – there are so many reasons there were more than 30,000 children who spent at least one night in foster care in Arizona over the last 12 months. We all know how huge a difference having loving and caring adults can make to children in need.  This foster mom and dad are changing a little boy’s life – in their case he’s one of multiple medically fragile children who they nurture, support and love.  At least one of their other kids has been adopted and given a forever home surrounded by the capable love and care these amazing parents provide and that their daughter, and every child, deserves.

Foster parenting isn’t for everyone.  It truly requires special people who choose to make it their mission to #StandUp and change lives for kids in need.  At Arizona Helping Hands we feel so privileged to take little steps to make their lives just a bit easier, a bit safer, a bit more comfortable – and with our Birthday program – a bit more joyful.  We are honored to make the acquaintance of foster moms and dads every day, to lend them a Helping Hand and a hug of appreciation for all they do.  And we love to make new, very special friends, and to see the beaming smile on the faces of a little kids like “H”.  Mom says she’ll be back for a twin bed for him as he grows and can move on from the crib he still sleeps in.  We say that we’re here for you and we wish “H” the happiest third birthday ever.  I hope to see his smile and visit with my new little friend again soon.

Arizona Helping Hands provides essential needs to kids in foster care.  The BIRTHDAY DREAMS program provides personalized birthday packages to children in foster care through their 18th birthday.  Learn more about Who we are, What we do and HOW YOU CAN HELP at www.azhelpinghands.org.  Contact Dan Shufelt at dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org, and read more of Dan’s blogposts at http://www.azhelpinghands.org/blog-post/

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