Libby Eaton volunteers her time with refugees in Wichita, Kansas, and to celebrate World Refugee Day, she sent us a bunch of wonderful photos. So we asked her to elaborate on why she volunteers and is drawn to supporting refugee families. Here's her answer:
World Refugee Day is celebrated every year on June 20 to raise awareness of refugees, their challenges, strength, and resiliency. Saint Francis Ministries works with numerous partners, communities, and individuals to help create a more inclusive world. At the end of 2019, more than 79.5 million people had fled their homes to get away from persecution, war, violence, and human rights violations. Everyone can make a difference.
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Overt racism against African Americans continues to be revealed in the United States. I am deeply concerned; as I pray you are. We cannot deny that there are injustices heaped upon members of our communities who are in greater danger than other members. Such vulnerability should in no way be interpreted as weakness.
When asked, John just smiles and shrugs his shoulders. “No, we’ve never had any problems with it at all,” he says. “It’s been a big part of our lives, and we really have enjoyed it.” After 43 years of foster parenting, John and Debra Holt say they can’t recall one negative experience - although their response might have more to do with the Tulsa couple’s outlook on life than anything else. They have cared for more than 400 children over the years, and each new child who comes into their home still feels like the first. And each child receives the same care, attention, and unconditional love as the hundreds who came before. “We can’t imagine our life without it,” says John.
After fostering children for more than a decade, Kevin and Lori still don’t believe they’re anything special. They’ve simply done what they were supposed to do. It’s how they were raised. “It’s what we were brought up to do,” said Lori. “We give back, first to family, then to friends and the community. Always give back.” You could say their foster care journey started more than 15 years ago when they assumed legal guardianship of Lori’s 4-year-old niece, and 5-year-old nephew. They didn’t even think about it. As far as the Salina, Kansas, couple was concerned, the children were family and they needed help. So, they took in the two little ones and began raising them as their own. About four years into it, they began having conversations with Kevin’s cousin, a licensed foster parent. “He told us about all these kids who needed homes,” said Lori. “So, Kevin and I talked about it for several months and then decided to go ahead and get licensed ourselves.”
The Greater Salina Community Foundation this week announced that Saint Francis Ministries will receive $3,618.75 to meet needs for Personal Protection Equipment in its Salina West residential facility.
The Kansas Health Foundation, Wichita, announced on May 13, 2020, that Saint Francis Ministries is one of the recipients of its annual Impact and Capacity Grant Initiative. This year, the Wichita-based organization is funding nonprofits across Kansas that work daily to improve health in the state as they respond to emergent needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saint Francis Ministries is active on the state and federal level in the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act, the Family First Transition Act and other changes that shift the way the nation is looking at serving vulnerable children and families.
The fear, anxiety, isolation, grief and economic insecurity from the COVID-19 pandemic are traumatic experiences that will have lifelong consequences for our physical, mental and emotional health.