Waldorf couple named Charles County Resource Parents of the Year
Dept. of Social Services holds celebration to honor foster families
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.
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.
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.