Guest blog post by Maritza Moreno, the 2009-2011 president of the South Dade Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, and founder of My Bags. She and her husband have been foster parents since 2008.
The “seed” for the My Bag project was placed in our hearts by a child protective investigations supervisor in Miami, Jenny Soriano-Priestly. She related how distressing it was that most of the time when children are removed from their parents they don’t have a bag or suitcase to put their belongings in. CPIs would have to resort to using trash bags to transport the belongings of children while they were undergoing the trauma of being removed from their parents. This was horrifying to me; these “little things” we just don’t think about in our day-to-day lives, but these “little things,” the subtle messages, are the ones that children learn from.
At the time, we unfortunately didn’t have the money to fund the project. However, at the end of 2011, our Association received a generous donation and, with matching funds from Our Kids of Miami-Dade & Monroe, our current president, Martha Pedroso, made sure that the project was a success.
We have bought 250 “My Bags” that are being distributed to the DCF hubs and also some police stations in Miami. When CPIs go to remove a child, they bring one of the bags to help the child collect their belongings – a bag the child can call their own.
Mrs. Pedroso’s marketing background has proven very effective to get the community involved at all levels. One volunteer heard about us through social networking. A Davie student, Ari Kaplan, chose to participate in the My Bag project by fundraising and collecting duffle bags as his Bar Mitzvah special community project.
The next step is to obtain comfort items to include with the bags, such as toothbrush/toothpaste, a small toy or book. We understand that sometimes these children may not have these items or there may not be enough time to obtain them.
We wish to ease the trauma children must endure. They are innocent victims.