Wal­dorf cou­ple named Charles County Re­source Par­ents of the Year

Dept. of So­cial Ser­vices holds cel­e­bra­tion to honor foster fam­i­lies

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

It takes a spe­cial kind of fam­ily will­ing and able to open their doors to wel­come foster chil­dren, said of­fi­cials with the Charles County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices. The or­ga­ni­za­tion held a re­cep­tion to rec­og­nize lo­cal re­source par­ents Fri­day night.

“We work in the sys­tem, but sys­tems do not raise chil­dren; peo­ple do,” said Tan­isha San­ders, as­sis­tant direc­tor of

Charles County DSS.

The event paid par­tic­u­lar honor to John and Kathy Men­doza, the Charles County Re­source Par­ents of the Year.

John Men­doza said he and his wife first be­came foster par­ents in 2009 in Som­er­set County, and con­tin­ued do­ing so when they moved to Wal­dorf in June 2013, which refers to foster par­ents as re­source par­ents.

John Men­doza said he had ex­pe­ri­ence with the foster care sys­tem, hav­ing had a 20-plus-year ca­reer in law en­force­ment. Given he grew up with­out a fa­ther, John wanted to be a pos­i­tive role model for other chil­dren and wel­come them into his fam­ily.

“I’d see a lot of kids that go through the sys­tem and get in trou­ble, end up placed in dif­fer­ent homes, or group homes or placed in a fa­cil­ity, and I wanted to be a men­tor for those kids and find al­ter­na­tives for those kids,” John said.

Kim­berly Biss, re­source unit su­per­vi­sor, said the Men­dozas took on the task of car­ing for a child with ex­ten­sive needs, and have de­vel­oped re­la­tion­ships with the child’s bi­o­log­i­cal mother and grand­par­ents.

“In speak­ing of the ideal re­la­tion­ship be­tween re­source par­ents and birth par­ents, the Men­dozas are the truest ex­am­ple of what we have en­vi­sioned,” Biss said.

The cou­ple cur­rently has two foster chil­dren. John said the most re­ward­ing part is see­ing them blos­som.

“It’s the same as with any par­ent, be­ing able to see them flour­ish,” Kathy Men­doza added. “To share in their lives, the big mile­stones, the high school grad­u­a­tions, grad­u­a­tions from boot camp, get­ting mar­ried, watch­ing them have kids. It’s huge be­ing a part of that.”

San­ders and Biss pre­sented a tro­phy and flow­ers to the Men­dozas.

“This is just our way of say­ing ‘thank you’ for all that you do for our youth, our chil­dren,” San­ders said.

Amire Harvin, pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer with the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice, said she knows first-hand the im­pact foster par­ents can have on chil­dren, hav­ing first en­tered foster care her­self 13 years ago.

Harvin, whose birth mother died when she was 2 years old, said the two big­gest things that helped her find a sense of self while in the foster care sys­tem were re­la­tion­ships and con­sis­tency with foster fam­i­lies.

“If you don’t have con­sis­tency, the un­known can be very scary,” Harvin said.

She said foster fam­i­lies can have an im­pact long af­ter a child leaves their care.

“I want to thank ev­ery re­source fam­ily out there, be­cause ev­ery day is not easy, some of you work ex­tremely hard — but for what­ever rea­son, you guys keep giv­ing,” Harvin said. “I’m a strong be­liever that you can plant the seed, but you never know that seed is go­ing to blos­som. But if you plant that seed know­ing that you gave it your all, even­tu­ally, it will blos­som and grow.”

Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) thanked all the re­source par­ents in at­ten­dance.

“I can­not tell you how much I and all the com­mis­sion­ers ap­pre­ci­ate the in­cred­i­ble work you do for our chil­dren here in Charles County,” Mur­phy said.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

At right, Kim­berly Biss, re­source unit su­per­vi­sor, and at left, Tan­isha San­ders, as­sis­tant direc­tor of the Charles County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices, present a an award to John and Kathy Men­doza, the Charles County 2017 Re­source Par­ents of the Year, dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion Fri­day.

Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy presents a ci­ta­tion from the board of county com­mis­sion­ers to Tan­isha San­ders, as­sis­tant direc­tor of the Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Cake rec­og­niz­ing Charles County re­source par­ents dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion Fri­day.

Amire Harvin, pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer with the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice, speaks about her ex­pe­ri­ences in foster care dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of re­source par­ents Fri­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.