Aaron Sidwell has always carried two great loves in his heart – music and children. And he is happiest when those two loves connect. It wasn’t until recently, though, that the Maize, Kansas, teacher experienced a merger so radical that it changed his life forever, along with the lives of two young boys.
On Nov. 19, 2021, two little boys – Benjamin and Rylee – understood just a few things. One was that their last name was finally going to be just like that of the two people they have been calling Mommy and Daddy for two years. Another was that there was one heckuva celebration with a lot of happy people.
Human beings will do pretty much anything for those they love, and little compares to the love of a grandparent for a grandchild. So, when Gena and Clifford Hailey realized Phoenix, 3, and Merlin, 2, needed help, they didn’t hesitate to step in. Their daughter had struggled with addiction and other mental health issues for years, resulting in the boys developing health problems of their own.
Licensed more than four years ago, the Tally family didn’t hesitate to wade into the deep end with their first long-term placement – a sibling set of four. Shortly afterwards, they added a fifth placement while the child waited for a kinship assessment. They’ve also fostered a teen, so she could remain in the community until she finished high school. They gave her a car and helped her apply for college and open a bank account. As far as Lance and Mandy are concerned, these actions are all just part of being an advocate for children in their care.
It’s difficult to enumerate all of the gifts that have impacted Saint Francis during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful and honored by community support that makes it possible for us to continue to provide the best, most supportive care for children and families. For instance, McCormick Distillery, like many distilleries, switched their production, and then donated 15 gallons of hand sanitizer. Great Plains Manufacturing in Salina also donated hand sanitizer.
Since 1993, KCSL’s Parent Helpline (1-800-CHILDREN) has offered a voice who will listen and empathize with callers’ concerns and provide help with simple questions or complex situations. Information, referrals, and support are provided statewide anonymously to parents, relatives, caregivers, youth, and professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.