There’s a path with 1Hope for kids and families in crisisBookmark this
Imagine a childhood filled with abuse, neglect, loss of control and life-changing trauma. Imagine being removed from your home, separated from your parents or your siblings—possibly forever. If you’re the average foster kid in Texas, you will bounce from five to six homes before returning to your parents, being adopted, or aging out of care.
Now imagine how, in your short life, you might feel abandoned by a society that treats you like a commodity. Imagine how you might have lost hope, and how your view of the world and God might have changed and hardened. This is the current reality of thousands of children in San Antonio. But God is intervening.
Our country's attention turned especially to these children in May, since National Foster Care Month was proclaimed in 1988. In our city, a nonprofit agency called 1HOPE for Kids addresses the modern-day orphan crisis. Its mission is to love and provide safe homes for every foster child in our community.
According to the Texas DFPS 2018 Data Book, every day in Bexar County, five to seven children will be removed from unstable or dangerous home situations, and three of these children will leave Bexar County because of a lack of local foster homes. 1HOPE is restoring families with its unique faith-based approaches. The team at 1HOPE places kids in God-centered homes and partners with area churches. Its focus: the absolute best for every child.
1HOPE, one of the two largest child-placement agencies in Bexar County, was founded in 2014 by a group of Christians who wanted a foster agency to recommend to their congregations. Since its first foster placement in 2015, 1HOPE has trained more than 800 people and placed nearly 400 kids in 165 loving homes. 1HOPE supports children from birth to 17 years old, as well as those who have aged out of care but have chosen to remain with a family for additional structure and support.
While foster care is designed to be temporary with the hope that every child will return to their biological families, adoptions occur when situations do not improve, or when a child can’t return to their parents’ or a relatives’ home. Almost one third of all 1HOPE “foster-adopt” parents (those who have been licensed to foster and adopt) have ended up adopting: 86 so far.
Since its first foster placement in 2015, 1HOPE has trained more than 800 people and placed nearly 400 kids in 165 loving homes.
1HOPE provides the foster trifecta. Their team trains parents, licenses homes, and places children. It is a government licensed child placing agency that provides all three services. The process to become a licensed foster home takes about three months on average and is not for the faint of heart. “We have to ensure we’re placing children in good homes,” says John Wilhelm, Program Director. “I’m only going to license a home that I would put my own child in.”
“Parents go through an orientation, 40 hours of classroom training, background checks, and a home study to evaluate the stability of the home,” says Kristi Nnokam Parker, Executive Director. Each home must also provide several references, one of which must come from a pastor or spiritual leader. Foster parents learn, through 1HOPE’s training sessions, to love a child who’s been significantly hurt by childhood trauma. All foster parents receive knowledge of state regulations and faith-based wisdom for a challenging journey—restoring a young but damaged soul. Most foster parents will tell you the kids are worth the process to help remove them from a dire situation.
Almost one third of all 1HOPE “foster-adopt” parents (those who have been licensed to foster and adopt) have ended up adopting: 86 so far.
“We don’t believe every Christian is called to be a foster or adoptive parent, but every Christian is called to do something,” says John. 1HOPE relies on its volunteer program to provide babysitting, daycare, tutoring, transportation, and hand-written notes of encouragement for their families. 1HOPE uses donations to provide diapers, camp experiences or the opportunity to enjoy sports. Government agencies provide for many medical issues, but they exclude provision for other vital needs such as forming helmets or braces. Expensive therapies also get excluded—and this is where donors can step up.
“At Valcor, we believe God has given us talents, gifts, and blessings that are to be stewarded carefully and used for the good of others and the glory of God. We passionately partner with 1HOPE for Kids because 1HOPE boldly brings the one true hope of the gospel of Jesus to the crisis of broken family relationships in San Antonio. 1HOPE rescues hopeless, desperate, and orphaned children and gives them love, resources, and family. Please join us today in ending the foster care crisis in our community.”
Charlie Malmberg, Partner, Co-Founder, Valcor Commercial Real Estate
1HOPE has beaten the odds of the average foster agency by continuing to employ its faith-centered model despite its growth. The all-Christian staff prays and walks the spiritual path with the families and kids, and allows the gospel to inform their every decision. “We do this for the love of the kids,” says Kristi. “Every one of the kids has felt like one of our own.”
“We’re the bridge between the government and the church.”
— John Wilhelm, Program Director
“We encourage parents to look at what they’re doing as a ministry, and to connect with birth families, which is pretty unique to our agency,” says John. Many of the 1HOPE kids who were previously unchurched have found Christ through their foster parents, and have gone on to share the love of Jesus with their biological families. “The state is coming to the church asking for help with this crisis because they’re looking for stable, loving homes. We’re the bridge between the government and the church.”
In 2014, 1HOPE only had three church partnerships. These partnerships have since grown to include more than 30 area churches, which also serve as training sites. However, John says, the need is still great. “If every area church took responsibility for just one child, we would eliminate the problem.”
“If every area church took responsibility for just one child, we would eliminate the problem.”
— John Wilhelm, Program Director
1HOPE’s Christ-centered approach was the drawing card for Laura and Stephen Bergeron who chose 1HOPE’s help after 11 childless years. “We just knew we wanted to be parents, and we had a lot of love to give,” says Laura.
While 1HOPE wasn’t the first agency they scouted, Stephen adds, it felt right immediately. “We had never seen anything like it. They were building an ecosystem for foster support within the church community; they shared our same heart.”
“This is the best experience and the hardest, but knowing we’re connected to 1HOPE has made all the difference.”
— Laura Bergeron, foster and adoptive parent
In 2017, the couple was licensed, then received a six-week-old baby girl. Now, at two years old, this little person is their very own forever-child through adoption. “We couldn’t imagine our life without her,” says Laura. The couple has fostered five kids total and continues to open their home and their hearts to kids in need. “We don’t see this process as temporary and give all of our hearts upfront to these kids,” says Stephen. While packing up a foster child’s belongings to return to their birth families is never easy, the couple has faith in the system and God’s plan. “It’s not about our feelings; it’s all about them,” says Laura. “Some kids are going to need a forever home like our daughter, and some just need a home for a little bit. But we have to focus on what’s best for these little ones.”
“We partner with 1HOPE for Kids because San Antonio is in crisis. Thousands of children are desperately crying out for help. They are alone, unadopted, or trapped inside abusive, traumatic homes. Their need, too often, goes unnoticed and unheard. They live in fear and without hope. Let’s come alongside 1HOPE to eagerly and urgently work until every child has a home.”
Jonathan Collins, Partner, Co-Founder, Valcor Commercial Real Estate
The couple urges families considering foster care not to let the fear of loss to rob them of this joy. “A lot of families don’t believe they can endure a child going back home,” says Stephen. “You don’t have to shoulder that alone; the Lord helps, and 1HOPE is amazing. It can be challenging, but 1HOPE has helped us to live open-handed with the kids we care for, and without judgment for their parents.”
“We have to focus on what’s best for these little ones.”
— Laura Bergeron, foster and adoptive parent
“This is the best experience and the hardest, but knowing we’re connected to 1HOPE has made all the difference,” says Laura. “They have an amazing team that supports, loves, and lifts us in prayer; they’ve become part of our family, too.”
1HOPE for Kids
(formerly 4KIDS of South Texas)
11550 W IH 10 Suite 225, SAT 78230
Be A Light.
Pray. Ask God to call more people to become foster and adoptive families to meet the crisis we have in Bexar County. Donate. Choose the Defender Program and pledge just $1 a day, or sponsor a family’s journey from training to placement to support for $3,400. Visit: www.1HOPEforkids.org/donate Volunteer. Provide babysitting, daycare, tutoring, transportation, and hand-written notes of encouragement for the foster families. Contact them today! Partner. Churches are 1HOPE’s greatest partners and also serve as the training sites for family licensing. Open your doors to 1HOPE to learn more!
1723 N. Loop 1604 E., Suite 204, SAT 78232
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Founded in January of 2010, we are a dynamic, entrepreneurial company built on the core values of thankfulness, grit, and stewardship. We strive for an exciting family-based culture that is fun, intentional, hardworking, innovative, relational, intelligent, and focused. Our team has a generous spirit and is involved in local and international charities. At Valcor, we are deeply committed to the personal and professional growth of our team members, vendors, and clients.