Monthly Archives: April 2013

Click for a Cause: Providing a safe, welcoming home

Guest Post by Irene K. Rickus, President and CEO of The Children’s Home. The Children’s Home strengthens communities in the Tampa Bay area through programs that support, serve, and protect children and their families.

A cottage at The Children's Home.

A cottage at The Children’s Home.

UPDATE: They WON!!!! Thank you so much to everyone who voted!!!

Each of the four cottages at The Children’s Home serves as a safe place for children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.  Each cottage provides a home-like setting to children ages 6-17, some of who are brothers and sisters.  And each cottage is where the children eat their meals, do their homework, and sleep at night, cared for by professional staff.

A boy at The Children's Home.

A young man at The Children’s Home.

Because the cottages are a home to the children while in our care, we put an enormous amount of time into making them comfortable and welcoming.  Halloween brings decorations like jack-o-lanterns and ghosts, the holidays brings lights and trees (and presents!), and spring brings flowers to the outside of each cottage.  Each cottage has a living room, den, TV room, kitchen and bedrooms.

A young lady at The Children's Home.

A young lady at The Children’s Home.

As you can imagine, the cottages tell the stories of the children who live here.  Siblings like Brianna and Jack, whose mother is addicted to drugs and unable to care for them.  Both of these innocent children struggle with emotional issues and depression.  Because many of the children who come to The Children’s Home have difficulty with emotional self-regulation, the cottages often show wear and tear much more quickly than a typical home.  Books get thrown at walls, curtains get torn down and furniture gets destroyed.  The cottages need a tremendous amount of upkeep to stay safe and welcoming for each child here.  It takes significant time and money to conduct all the necessary maintenance and repairs.

The living room inside one of The Children's Home's cottages.

The living room inside one of The Children’s Home’s cottages.

Thankfully, The Children’s Home has been chosen as one of the finalists in IKEA’s Click for a Cause campaign. If we win, we will receive a makeover for improvements to each cottage!  Please help us by voting for The Children’s Home in Tampa now and every day through April 8, 2013.

Choose “Tampa, Florida” on the IKEA Click for a Cause website and then vote for “The Children’s Home.” Your vote will make a difference!  Each vote puts us one step closer to winning!  Please take a moment and help children in the foster care system have a home that helps them heal.  Thank you!

A young lady at The Children's Home.

A young lady at The Children’s Home.

My Adopted Daughter, Allison

Guest post by an adoptive mother in Orange Park.

Check out her adoptive daughter’s book, Life is Sweet – she wrote and illustrated it!

Allison's book, Life is Sweet.

Allison’s book, Life is Sweet.

My granddaughter Allison is a healthy, happy 9 year old, scoring A/B Honor Roll grades since 2nd grade. But she wasn’t always that way.

When Allison was born, she was my first grandchild and the first girl in my immediate family.  She was welcomed by her mother’s family as well as by mine.  Her parents were proud and loving – for awhile.

When the newness and sweetness wore off, Allie’s mom did not deal with the day to day responsibilities well. Life for Allison started to deteriorate.  Her mom started to neglect her needs, her dad, my son, started not coming home right after work so he would not have to deal with his wife and their neglected house.

Family members, including myself, attempted to help the small family to work past difficulties together for two years, but nothing helped. I welcomed her into my home in Relative Care, but by then negligence had taken its toll.

She had seven dental cavities, including four that were so bad that they needed to be capped.  She was borderline anemic and underweight.  Some of her other issues required surgery and a Court Order to allow me to make the arrangements at the Children Hospital.

My son, Allison’s father, gave up his parental rights the next year.  Her mother’s rights were terminated by the court a year later. Kids First of Florida helped me get thru this ordeal by providing guidance and information needed to take care of Allison.

She is now a Girl Scout and working on a community project involving children in foster care. She also takes karate lessons and is a Reading Buddy to children in Pre-K and kindergarten classes. She is now a well-adjusted young girl with goals and dreams.

Adopting Allison was the right thing to do and I would do it again in a heartbeat.