By Amanda Hayes
Mother Teresa once said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” (www.brainyquote.com/authors/mother-teresa-quotes)
There is an organization and non-profit in many areas across the State of Georgia striving to do exactly that, remedy the poverty of being unloved and uncared for, suitably named Called to Care. The purpose of these chapters of Called to Care is to meet the needs of children in foster care, or orphans in their area. Each chapter shares a common goal, “to provide safe events for teens, educate the community about needs, provide tangible needs, provide support to foster and biological families, and provide education and resources to families going through adoptions” (iamcalledtocare.com).
The Tift County chapter has now grown to offer support and resources in twenty counties in South Georgia. In Coffee County, the group is headquartered at Eastside Baptist Church, and is spear-headed by Called to Care Director and pastor’s wife, Gentry Colson. According to Colson, “We minister to children in foster care, and those whose families are under investigation. We also serve the birth parents, foster parents, relative placements, and Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) workers.”
Recently, the Coffee County chapter of the nonprofit received a special request from their local DFCS office. They noted, “Our hallway and children’s visitation room are bare and intimidating.” Kelly Harmon, DFCS Director, asked Called to Care if they could, “find students to create colorful pictures illustrating one of the following words: hope, empower, trust, faith, love, commitment, forgiveness, chosen, appointed, destined, or excellence.”
Three very talented and dedicated ladies rose to that challenge - retired art teacher and Called to Care volunteer Mary Ann Saylor, Coffee High School art teacher Julie Lord, and Coffee Middle School art teacher Amanda Youngblood.
Some very gifted and aspiring young artists also rose to the challenge. With the guidance and instruction of their art teachers, they created colorful, meaningful pieces of art to adorn the dreary hallway and family visitation room at their local DFCS building. Now, DFCS workers and families alike in Coffee County will be inspired and encouraged in the new warm and welcoming environment.
On Monday, March 9, Colson was invited to speak at the local Douglas Lions Club meeting to share about the recent activities of the local organization. The Douglas Lions Club is an avid supporter and provider of resources of Called to Care nonprofit in Coffee County. Also, in attendance to represent Called to Care were volunteer Lois Cliett, volunteer Evan Colson, intern Hanna Roberts, Lions Club President and Called to Care volunteer Aaron Shearl.
Called to Care regularly accepts monetary as well as clothing and home item donations for foster or adoptive families in need in the counties they serve. For more information for the South Georgia area, please visit iamcalledtocare.com, or one of the following Facebook pages: @CalledtoCareCoffeeCounty or @calledtocaretifton.