Monthly Archives: July 2012

Corey’s Kids

Guest post by Corey Simon, former NFL player and founder of Corey’s Kids, a camp for children in foster care. The 2012 camp begins July 25. The camp is a part of DCF’s Camps for Champions and brings foster youth together with sports stars and celebrities. 

Corey Simon

I was horrified when I heard the rampant stories of young girls being brutally sexually assaulted when I visited South Africa in 2004, and it jump-started my involvement helping kids.

When I returned from my trip, I heard about children in my own area who were suffering at the hands of those they trust. They were neglected, unwanted and went through life not trusting people. Kids in foster care really fell on my heart. That’s why I started Corey’s Kids.

Kids in foster care playing football at the 2011 Corey's Camp

The Corey’s Kids camp gives children in foster care a chance to get away from their normal lives. To forget about the problems of today. To focus on tomorrow. To have a week to just let the kids be kids.  They get lights in their eyes when they show up to the camp. It is amazing how strong a child can be if they believe in something – and know that you believe in them. I want to foster that.

It can be hard for people to hear about stories like this. It should be. But don’t let that deter you from helping the kids in your community. Pay it forward. If you have the time or resources to help, please help them. Mentor. Be a part of their lives. Just a little bit of time gives these kids the confidence and opportunity to succeed.

Strangers have become friends

Guest post by Safe Families for Children, a program of 4Kids of South Florida. Safe Families for Children is a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. Safe, loving homes are provided where parents may voluntarily have their children cared for while parents seek to restore stability in their lives.; 

Maria, a single mom with two young boys—Steve and Ryan—called the Safe Families office in desperation.  Not only was she living at a homeless shelter that she would soon have to leave, but she was pregnant with her third child.  The homeless shelter told her she had a week to find alternative housing for her and the boys.  Tears streamed down her face as she met with Safe Families staff, deeply upset but glad that her boys would have a safe place to stay.

Safe Families staff quickly contacted the Rena family, a couple without children of their own who were a newly certified Safe Family.  The Renas called Maria and visited the homeless shelter several times before placement in order to ease Maria’s fears and make the boys’ transition to their home as smooth as possible.  Despite Maria’s anxiety over their situation, she placed her boys with the Rena family, knowing they would be well cared for.

As the boys had been previously abused by their father, the Renas soon realized that there were behavioral challenges to address.  However, Maria and the Renas worked together to provide the stability and consistency the boys needed.  Staff helped the Renas in problem-solving and the Renas soon realized the extent of the joys and pains of parenting.  Yet they were determined to continue loving Steve and Ryan, knowing how much the boys needed them.

Meanwhile, Maria lived in various friends’ homes until giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Ana.  Soon after Ana’s birth, Maria found a place she could afford to rent.  Some local church volunteers provided her with a washing machine and some furniture.  Another volunteer named Sarah took Maria shopping for professional clothes that she could wear to job interviews.  Sarah also shared in Maria’s excitement when Maria called her one day to let her know she got a job.

While Ryan and Steve often called and visited their mom, they deeply missed her.  As the three-month placement neared its end, the Renas made a countdown chart for the boys as they eagerly anticipated going home.  Maria and her boys are together again and yet the story continues to unfold.  The boys consistently see the Renas, as the Renas make it a point to take them to fun activities.

Strangers have become friends and lifelong memories have been formed.  While life continues to bring its challenges, Maria and her children were given a chance to start afresh and there is hope for a better and brighter future.

I will never give up. I will make it.

Guest post by foster youth Amber, a Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy camper. The camp is part of DCF’s Camps for Champions events for Florida children in foster care. The camps bring foster youth together with nationally recognized athletes and role models.

Myron Rolle talking with kids at his Camps for Champions Leadership Academy

A leader is someone who motivates others. A leader is a person who has overcome obstacles and teaches others to overcome their struggles. The Myron Rolle Wellness andLeadershipAcademyhas taught me to believe in all of my abilities and to never allow people’s judgment to interfere with my dreams and goals. My Mom, mentors, Team Scott, Myron Rolle, Adam Tallefarro and Pierre Garcon have influenced me in so many ways. From them, I have learned to keep going and to never give up. I can do it. Just keep trying. I will make it.


Guest post from Margie Dotson, a RTS Specialist with United for Families in Central Florida, a DCF Community-Based Care organization. Margie recently volunteered at the Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy.

As I sit here in reflection and marvel at the tremendous changes that have manifested in the youth we have here and in my co-workers and peers, I am so blessed to not only witness this but to also have another opportunity to impact someone’s life in a positive way!

I am so grateful for this opportunity to help transition adversity into opportunity. For a week I worked side by side with other ordinary people doing ordinary things – one day at a time, for one child at a time – to positively impact children’s lives so that they can make an extra ordinary impact tomorrow!

With tears and sweat running down my face but joy overflowing in my heart, I simply say thank you for allowing me to take this journey for the fourth year! I am one of the few that have had the opportunity to do so!

The Place of Childhood Dreams

Guest post by Brad Weaver, a foster parent with Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, DCF Circuit 20

Most people who enter foster parenting do so because they want to unselfishly give of themselves to love and care for abused children in need.   After they become foster parents, they realize that love as an emotion is not all they will have to give.  Foster parents, as any parents, will learn the art of sacrifice. They will need to give of themselves for these children who come into foster care through no fault of their own.

We need to ask ourselves each day, “Who and what are filling our emotional needs?  Do we take time each day to nurture ourselves?  Are we getting sufficient rest?  Are we eating appropriately and getting enough exercise?  Do we take time each day to do something we enjoy?  Are we listening to, and depending on the core support people in our lives?”

Many of us know the story of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree. The tree always provides the boy with what he wants: branches on which to swing, shade in which to sit and apples to eat. As the boy grows older, he requires more and more of the tree. The tree loves the boy very much and gives him anything he asks for. In an ultimate act of self-sacrifice, the tree lets the boy cut it down so the boy can build a boat in which he can sail. The boy leaves the tree; now a stump. Many years later, the boy returns as an old man and the tree sadly says: “I’m sorry, boy …  but I have nothing left to give you.” But the boy replies: “I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest.” The tree then says, “Well, an old tree stump is a good place for sitting and resting. Come, boy, sit down and rest.” The boy obliges and the tree was very happy.

For the abused children in our care, we may serve as the place of childhood dreams.  We may be the vehicle that allows them to sail through the stormy seas of life with confidence. We may be the place where they can come and rest.  In the eyes of the children we care for, we are not unnoticed, we are not unappreciated.  They desire to take nothing from us, but they cannot go on unless we give them our unconditional love which is not just the art of sacrifice, but the heart of sacrifice.

To find out more about fostering in Florida, visit