Giving Day is coming up : We need you.

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Hello,
We have a big day coming up – a day when we need you: Giving Day on November 9th.

Giving Day is a one-day, online campaign where we’re asking each of you to give what you can towards finding homes for children in foster care and supporting families whose children are at risk of entering foster care.

I want to tell you a quick story about one of those families.

We recently got a call from Ms. J. Ms. J is a single mom who immigrated to the United States not too long ago. She came with her young daughter and at the time was pregnant with twins. After immigrating here, she didn’t have anywhere to go and her family entered the DC shelter system and was placed in a local hotel. After giving birth to her twins, Ms. J found out she had a medical condition that required a procedure and multiple hospital visits. If you didn’t know anyone, and you had three children to care for, who would do you call?

This is why DC127 exists. When parents are facing times of crisis or when families are trying to grow amidst difficult and broken systems, they need somewhere to turn. When you give on November 9th, that is what you’re investing in.

On November 9th, will you invest in DC127 and create the bridge between Ms. J’s family and the supportive community she needs?
(Sign up to get a personal reminder here)

Last year on Giving Day, you raised over $40,000. This year, our goal is to hit $50,000. This money will allow us to continue recruiting foster homes so children have stable places to live and to continue providing supportive communities to families like Ms. J’s. Giving Day will allow us to grow our organization so that we can reach even more children and families.

We think you’re reading this blog because you agree that children deserve to grow up in a home and have a family. Giving Day is your chance to help ensure that every child in DC grows up in a safe and stable home.

When you give on Giving Day, you’ll be equipping us to reach out to more churches, recruit more foster homes, and find more volunteers who are willing to walk with parents like Ms. J.

It costs us $28 to train one Safe Families Host Home, $46 to present to a new church, $75 to present valuable information to about 6 prospective foster families, $100 to cover the entire intake process for one family in crisis and the list goes on (you can see the whole list here).

When you give any amount, you are tangibly investing in the lives of children and families in DC. You are making sure that kids in foster care have supportive homes, and when a single mom like Ms. J feels like she’s run out of options, she has somewhere to call. 

When you give on November 9th, you’re investing in children and families in DC.

We have a big vision. We are asking you to donate because you share our vision that Washington, DC can be a place where every child has a home and families get that support they need to stay together. We are asking you to donate because you, like us, refuse to let parents like Ms. J live in isolation.

Will you give on our November 9th Giving Day and create the bridge between families like Ms. J’s and the communities in our churches that will help her thrive?

You can click here or sign up below to pledge a gift and we’ll send you a personal reminder on November 9th.

We’re excited for Giving Day. We’re excited because it’s a day where people in DC show their commitment to the kids and families in DC. Will you join us on November 9th and partner with us to ensure that every child in our city has the home they need?

– Chelsea, DC127 Executive Director

P.S. If you’ll be out of town on November 9th or just want to donate early, you can click here and donate anytime.

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Because where we find our strength matters.

Posted by | Blog, Faith, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children | No Comments

On September 29th, the DC127 network came together again to celebrate, worship, and pray. We’ve done this every year since we launched and it’s become an important rhythm to remind ourselves to stay rooted in Christ as this network’s foundation. We did something a little different this year. Instead of focusing on big numbers or finding more volunteers and families, we took some time to narrow in our network and take a second to breathe.

We asked an important question of our network: What is our fuel?

What keeps us going? I think this is an important question that often gets overlooked when we’re working in nonprofits or ministry. We things get hard or it seems like there is no hope, what keeps us committed to the love and service we’re called to? What sustains us?

I think this is important to understand for two reasons:

  1.  What’s flowing in affects our beings: Think about physical health. If you just ate bacon exclusively for every meal, you’d probably feel the effects and your body would work as well as it can. Bacon is great, but bacon isn’t going to give us all the vitamins we need (no matter what I tell myself). The same thing goes for the rest of our lives. The things that keep us going, give us energy and rest – those things are going to affect our very beings and our souls. What we rely on as a source of strength matters for our health.
  2. The input affects the output: What we rely on to keep serving, working, and loving our communities, is going to affect how we’re able to serve and love them. I was once training for a long bike ride, but I kept getting tired really early into the rides. My dad, who was the one dragging me onto the bike, finally saw me eat my regular breakfast – a bowl of oatmeal. He made me wake up earlier and eat more and pay attention to what sort of things I was eating. See, while my oatmeal can get me to lunch on a normal day, what I was putting into my body wasn’t enough to accomplish what I was trying to do. What we’re taking in affects what we’re able to put out.


This is often framed as soul care. If we believe we’re called by God to serve and love, and if our souls are the piece of us most connected to the Divine, then keeping that connection healthy will affect the way we are able to love the world around us.

So, what sustains us? I had a friend in college who meditated on different symbols focus, health, strength, love, etc. She told me about how the focus of her meditation was to find more of these qualities in herself. She had the focus or strength she needed, she just needed to find it within herself. We certainly have a lot to learn from other traditions, including this practice, but I think this idea is a pervasive one and I think it falls short. Foundational to the Christian beliefs are that we don’t have everything we need to live the way God has asked us to live. We’re asked to constantly admit our own lack of ability and to trust God. If we just rely on what we already have – our passion, energy, love, whatever it is – we’re going to run dry when things get hard.

We do not have what it takes to love God and love our world within ourselves. Our attention to the care of our souls is our attention to the connection and relationship we have with the Divine – who is where we find the strength, passion, energy, and love we need to do what is asked of us, and only what is asked of us.

The second part of this piece is that our fuel, where we find our strength, affects what we’re able to do and how we’re able to do it. If we find our fuel in whatever we can dig up from within ourselves, we’re probably going to be really careful with how we use those resources, which makes sense. When it comes to our time, emotional energy, and tangible resources – if these can run dry, then we have to protect them.

If you have finite resources (money, time, emotional energy) and you don’t know that you’ll be renewed, you’ll operate out of scarcity and run the risk of being too occupied with the result of your service and in turn hoard your resources. We risk finding our strength in feelings of accomplishment and when those don’t come, we pull back. If we think we’re running out of resources, we’re never going to be able to serve with the selfless, sacrificial love God requires.

However, if we find our strength and our fuel for everything in God, who is infinite, the game begins to change. Suddenly, our lives and the work we do are tapped into the never-ending flow and love that is the Creator of the Universe.

When we serve out of the love we receive from God, we don’t love others because it makes us feel good, because they thank us, because they are nice to us, or because they accomplished everything we wanted for them, we don’t need that. That doesn’t keep us going. When we serve out of God’s strength, our reason for showing up is because God asked us to be there and we are able to walk knowing that God will figure the rest out.

So when this gets hard and you wake up to love a child who shows the same difficult behaviors each day, or you’re walking with someone and they lie to you because that’s the only way they’ve known how to get what they need to care for their family, or you’re caring for someone and things just don’t seem to move forward and all of you are frustrated, you can keep going. You’ll feel on the brink of empty, but you won’t be. You did what you were asked to do- you showed up. You can walk in that space and give one hundred percent and know that in Christ you will be refueled. You’ll be tired, but you know that you won’t be empty.


Inherent in all of this is the idea that we are limited. We need the source of love and strength that is Christ because we are limited. And my good friend Matthew Watson reminded me of this recently, and I’d like to read something he sent me:

“We can’t do it all. Not because we’re sinful or weak, but because God loves us. We can’t ‘fix’ much, and certainly not people. Not because I’m sinful or weak, but because God loves us.I can’t work endless hours, love endless numbers of people endlessly, I can’t send endless emails or make endless meals. Not because I’m sinful, but because I’m limited. And those limitations are a grace that remind me that God is bigger and fuller than I am and He’s the one who makes up the difference between my limitations and what needs to be done…. all who need to be loved, the meals that need to be made, the lists that need to be reversed.

Being limited isn’t bad; it’s an opportunity to look back to and trust God.

I’m not saying “do more” or “say yes every time DC127 or CFSA calls you.” Part of deepening our connection and relationship with God means that we each know where God is asking us to step and then when we step there and we commit to that space. And then rest knowing that even when you give of yourself, it won’t be enough for the situation, but that was never asked of you. You will never be enough for all the needs of any child, parent, family, or city. Let that be a breath of relief. God didn’t ask you to be enough, you were just asked to show up. 

My ask of you this year, and please hold us as staff and as an organization to this as well, is to care for your souls. Remember that you are limited and that you need not only direction from God around what is yours to step into, but also the love that only God can give. Because if we’re each stepping into the spaces God has called us to step, and each loving in those spaces with a love God has given us, then together we’ll make it.

As a network, we’re trying to grow wide, but if we’re not also growing deep and ensuring that we are resting in and relying on Christ, the only infinite source of strength there is, we’re never going to accomplish our vision, and the kids and families of our city deserve that vision.

We’re hiring!

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We’re looking for two amazing people to join our team. If you’re interested in either position or know someone who is, the job descriptions and application instructions are below. For both positions, we are requesting an online application form in place of submitting resumes and cover letters. Please see below for links and PDF versions of the form.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@dc127.org.

Job Opening #1: Full-Time Family Support Coordinator
We will begin reviewing applications on September 8th.

Job Opening #2: Part-Time Program Administrator
We will begin reviewing applications on August 31st, with an ideal start date of October 18th.

Thank you for your consideration!

-The current DC127 Team

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Climbing the Mountain

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Recently, Raessa, DC127’s Family Support Coordinator, was asked to reflect on 1 Peter 4:7-11 for a sermon her pastor was writing. We couldn’t pass up sharing these wise and encouraging thoughts about the important role community plays, especially when God calls us to love deeply, practice hospitality, and offer grace.

1 Peter 4:7-9 says, The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I always wanted my life to have the same threads of hospitality, friendship, and faith that I witness directly through my parents. Whether it was a family, child, or animal, our door was always open to anyone in need. I got to witness the beauty of community, but I also learned firsthand that it wouldn’t be easy. I knew it would mean saying yes to doing and seeing hard things and having the lines between my professional and personal lives blurred. What I didn’t anticipate was finding the type of community who wanted to do this with me, and for me, and around me.
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This means that on hard days it feels like I’m climbing a mountain and every hard decision, every hard story I hear, every time I feel like I’m working in vain, feels like I’m trudging up this cold, rocky, isolating, mountain that God has asked me to climb. But, to look around and see other people climbing with me, means we get to pull and push and hold each other up and live the type of hard, messy lives God has asks us to live together.

We talk a lot at DC127 about how we likely won’t see the end of our work, we won’t see the full impact we’ve made and we won’t see a miraculous turn of events where every child gets the childhood they deserve. There isn’t a “top of the mountain” here. However, I don’t for a second underestimate how powerful it is that the people I am in community with aren’t deterred by impossible work. Impossible work with unknown results is what I watch my parents do in their communities for their neighbors, and I am so proud to live a community that allows me to live that out in DC. There’s just something about not being in it alone and feeling understood that make it possible to keep climbing.

Month of Prayer, Week 5: The power of the Church

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As our Month of Prayer comes to a close, we would like to thank Megan Roberts for all her help on this blog! Read Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 posts here on how we can help and pray for our city.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” –James 1:27

The Church is the institution God uses to show who His people are and a crucial part of how the love of God is demonstrated to a hurting world. The Church creates disciples who teach and obey Christ, and here, in James 1:27, we find exactly what kind of obedience God is after.

Praise God for the 15 churches who are currently partnering with DC127 and for the ways that we have seen God move through these churches to care for the vulnerable in the city.

This week we are praying for the churches who have already started partnering with DC127 and for more churches to join in their efforts. DC127 recognizes the power of the Church and believes that, if united, the Church could tangibly change the way things operate for children and families in the District.

This week will you prayer that the churches of DC will:

  • Care for children in foster care, single mothers, and other vulnerable families in our city in part by bringing new churches into the DC127 movement
  • Make disciples who open their homes and create cultures in their community where people who have been marginalized are welcomed and accepted
  • Find favor with the people of this city, including governing officials, that the work of DC127 might be more easily accomplished
  • Support those families among them seeking to host, foster, or adopt, and those that have fostered or adopted already

Here are some resources to learn more:

Watch an 8-minute video on why caring for children in foster care is the responsibility of the church.

Hear our keynote speaker from One City. One Hope 2014 cast a vision for what could happen in Washington, DC when the churches unite.

Month of Prayer, Week 4: Praying for Social Workers

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This month we’ve been taking time to pray for different pieces of the child welfare system. Thank you again to Megan Roberts who has volunteered to write these and lead us this month!

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:17

Social workers are those professionals that help facilitate and advocate for the welfare of the vulnerable. DC127 regularly interacts with social workers who refer families to Safe Families, who help facilitate our families’ interactions with public services and welfare, and who advocate for and partner with us on an ongoing basis. Social workers also serve foster families and ensure they have what they need to care for the children in their home. Social workers are the glue that keeps the child welfare system together.

As we work alongside social workers in the DC region, we ask that you partner with us in praying for these professionals in the following ways:

  • That God would call more people to the field of social work, and equip them with the professional and relational resources to make impactful change in their communities
  • That God would prevent burnout in existing social workers, specifically for DC Child and Family Services Agency workers and DC social workers at various agencies, providing them with life-giving activities outside of work and healthy work-life balances
  • That God would bless social workers’ interactions with their clients and government officials, that the needs of their clients would be met in God-glorifying ways

Interested in learning more about how the church can work with and serve social workers?

And then check out these videos:

 

Month of Prayer, Week 3: Keeping Families Together

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“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:4

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” – Ephesians 3:14-16

Keeping Families Together 

God created the family in His image, and what hurts the family hurts God. From Genesis to Revelation, we see the ways that God designed the family to be a place of human flourishing.

Unfortunately, there are serious obstacles facing the unity of families today. Poverty and hunger make it difficult for many parents to adequately care for their children, and over 17,000 DC families accepted TANF assistance in 2014. This and other factors drive up the number of children in group homes – situations that can cost up to ten times more to raise each child in then it would cost to raise them in a single-family home.

Despite these challenges, God offers hope. In Revelation, He tells John that He is preparing a kingdom where all things will be made new – a kingdom unaffected by poverty, hunger, sickness, or death. A kingdom formed of one, insoluble, family.

This week, will you join us in praying:

  • That we – the church in DC – would be able to help prevent the breakup of families by foster care, and shine a beam of that perfect kingdom into a very broken world.
  • That parents struggling to care for their children would have access the resources needed to keep their children happy and healthy, and their families together.
  • That there will be an increase in affordable housing in the District, and that the thousands of families struggling to pay rent or find a safe place to live will get the help they need. Pray also for protection and an increase in the valuable benefits DC families need to survive.
  • That more volunteers will step up to care for struggling families. Pray for more Host Homes to temporarily care for children to give parents space to strengthen their families, and for an increase in other Safe Families volunteer roles so that parents get the help they need.
  • That marriages in impoverished communities would strengthen, that husbands and wives would care for each other, and that both would care for the children in their charge.
  • That single parents in the District will get be connected to a supportive community. Pray especially for single parents who are living in poverty and struggling to care for their children and strengthen their family alone.
  • That children put into foster care would be able to be reunited with their families. Pray that while children are in care they would be able to maintain a connection with their parents and families. Pray for foster parents to know how to support and strengthen those bonds.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

Watch a 4-minute story from a foster dad on how God taught him the importance of loving a child’s biological family.

And here’s a 7-minute video from the Executive Director the national Safe Families for Children network on why prevention work is so important.

Thank you Megan Roberts for her help on this blog!

Month of Prayer, Week 2: For children in foster care and the families caring for them

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Last week, we prayed for our city, asking that the church steps up for vulnerable children and families. This week, join us in praying for the children in foster care and the families who care for them. Thanks to DC127 Church Coordinator Megan Roberts for writing the blog!

For the children in foster care and those caring for them:

In DC alone, around 1,000 children and teens are living in foster care and over 100 of these children need to be adopted. DC is also currently facing a shortage of foster homes to care for these children.

In DC, 95% of children in the foster care system are African American, compared to 24% nationally, reflecting incredible disproportionality. As we pray for foster care in DC, let’s not forget we must also pray and advocate for racial justice in the systems that affect these children’s lives.

In Matthew 18, as Jesus’ disciples ask him who the greatest in the Kingdom is. Jesus uses a child to remind us that in heaven, those who humble themselves, not those who seek exultation, will be considered the greatest. He makes this bold declaration:

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”

This week, will you join us in praying for:

  • Families currently fostering or in the licensing process: Pray that they would find the resources they need to foster or adopt and care for children well. Pray that God continually provides the strength, support, and resources they need to thrive. Pray that churches would be strong sources of support for families.
  • 
The children in foster care: Pray that each child would receive the comfort of Christ, and that their stay in foster care will be short. Pray that children will be reunified with their families, and for the children who need to be adopted, pray that an adoptive home is found quickly.
  • New families created through adoption and foster care: Pray that God will bind them together and they would be full of Christ-like love, joy, and peace.
  • More foster and adoptive homes: Pray for more people to step up to foster and adopt from foster care until there are enough homes for every child, and pray that the churches of Washington, DC will be able to support these families.
  • For justice in the systems surrounding foster care: Pray for other government systems to uplift and care for the poor.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

 

Watch a powerful 4-minute video from performance poet Shaun Welcome, sharing stories of children in foster care:

 

Watch four successful college graduates talk about their lives post foster care and the advice they have for current kids in the foster care system:

Month of Prayer, Week 1: Praying for our City

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DC127 is a movement of churches that believes God has called us to care for children in foster care and children at-risk of entering care. We also believe that we won’t be able to do any of this unless we rely on God.

Like last year, we’re going to mark the month of February as a month of prayer. We’ll be posting blogs each Wednesday that cover a different topic and invite you to pray with us for our city, kids in or at-risk of foster care, their families and the families who care for them, and for churches to respond in love and action. You can sign up here to get a reminder when the blog is posted. We also want to thank our amazing Church Coordinator, Megan Roberts, for writing these posts.

Praying for our City

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

1,500 children are at risk of entering foster care and receiving in-home services in Washington, DC. Around 1,000 children are currently in foster care. Nationally, over 415,000 children are in foster care, and over 110,000 of those children are waiting to be adopted.

The numbers are staggering. These statistics paint a dire picture for the most vulnerable in our city- those children at risk of losing a family, those mothers raising children by themselves in precarious circumstances.  As Christians, we are called to look after the vulnerable and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. We live in a fallen world with broken cities where families are separated or unable able to provide for their needs. While we live in a fallen world, we know we are called to a higher purpose: to follow a God that is merciful and just who cares for the vulnerable and calls us to follow Him.

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Believers in our city and around the world: Pray we will look after those who are vulnerable and advocate for the marginalized in our cities.
  •  Those who are in distress in Washington, DC: There are 1,491 homeless families in DC, and many more living in poverty and crisis. Pray God would comfort each of them and provide relief. Pray that our city’s leaders will represent them and affect change on their behalf. Pray for an increase in jobs and resources available to these families to help them stabilize their families.
  • The professionals who serve in social services in DC: Serving in social services can mean long, hard and emotional days. Pray that these workers will get rest and relief, and pray that the organizations and systems they work in will operate to the benefit of the vulnerable in our city.
  •  Churches: Pray churches would be a light in a broken world and at the forefront of caring for those in need. Pray for increased partnership between churches and city agencies. Pray that social workers can come to rely on churches to care for those in need and to help them as they serve our city.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

 

Hear our keynote speaker from One City. One Hope. 2014 cast a vision for what could happen in Washington, D.C. when the churches unite:

 

Hear from Dr. Sharen Ford on why the government needs the church to cross the aisle, learn about child welfare system, and serve children in foster care:

 

Where do hope, joy, peace, and love fit in places of pain?

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Hope. Joy. Peace. Love.

We talk about these four words a lot during the Christmas and Advent season. While they absolutely contribute to the warm, fuzzy, Christmas-movie feelings I love to have, they also read as a challenge. In the context of Christ’s birth and where we find ourselves as God’s people, it’s been helpful for me to remember just how radical these words really are.stocksnap_96rtp23cu4

DC127 exists because there are children spending this Christmas season (and the months after it) without a family or away from their home. We exist because there are parents struggling to keep their children out of foster care in the face of poverty, homelessness, and crisis. We exist because in the past two weeks alone, we’ve gotten calls from 6 single moms who are struggling to keep their children home – moms who love their children, but can’t do this alone.

When I think about the challenges facing these mothers, their children, and the children in DC’s foster care system, having hope, feeling joy and love, and being at peace is hard. Where do these four simple words fit in places of brokenness, systemic injustice, and so much pain?

This is when these words become radical, because they ask you to go against everything you see in front of you. We have to make an active choice to believe them. The Advent season is a reminder that Christ’s birth and the promise He brings is the reason for our hope, joy, peace, and love.

Maybe we should change it: Active Hope. Active Joy. Active Peace. Active Love.

Despite the pain and brokenness we see, perhaps:
Active hope is a call to action, believing things will change and staying discontent with the status quo.
Active joy is not letting despair win out, even when we feel stuck and without a path.
Active peace remembers that we serve a God bigger than the injustice we see.
Active love is doing the hard work of loving our neighbor despite differences, and carrying their burdens not in charity but in true relationship.

This isn’t always easy to remember, but as I think about the last year with DC127, I think about the many people in our network who demonstrate what it means to live out active hope, joy, love, and peace.

I think about the foster parents who stepped out not only to care for a child, but to love his mother and siblings as well. I think about the team who wrapped around a single mom of four, ensuring she had support and also bringing her into their church community and showing her the peace of Christ.stocksnap_76kvxq6tjy

I think about the ways many of you have supported DC127’s families through babysitting, donating diapers, or bringing joy through a meal:

  • the babysitter who spent the night at a foster home to give them some sleep,
  • the Host Home who picked up a child late at night after a house fire,
  • the couple who generously sent diapers, wipes, and clothes all across the city to support foster and host homes.

I think about each of you who have invested financially in DC127, and who have invested in the future hope of a city where no child waits for a home.

There are too many stories to list here. Thank you for the ways you’ve loved and shown peace to DC this year. I pray as you go through the Advent season you see the active hope, joy, love, and peace of Christ in your life.

Merry Christmas!

-Chelsea Geyer

DC127 Executive Director

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