Bloom Our Youth, Inc. (Bloom), a nonprofit organization that provides refuge to foster children in Georgia, was awarded with Together Georgia’s 2017 Most Outstanding Foster Care Agency in Georgia in October at the Georgia Conference on Children and Families in Augusta.The Most Outstanding Foster Care Agency award is given to a foster care agency that has demonstrated outstanding service to children. Bloom recruits, trains and certifies foster families to care for foster youth, including those with significant therapeutic issues, medically fragile needs, pregnant or parenting foster teen girls and sibling groups. In the two years that Bloom has operated it’s licensed foster care program, it has recruited and certified foster families to care for nearly 100 foster children, all the while maintaining A+ ratings with the State of Georgia.
Innovation is at the heart of Bloom’s support for foster families, and their unique business model actively engages the community in the lives of Georgia’s foster children. “Bloom’s foster care program is centered around the operation of The Bloom Closet, a children’s boutique that supplies foster children with free clothing and necessities,” explains Becky Davenport, Bloom Executive Director. “Last year at The Bloom Closet, more than 2,000 foster children from 80 Georgia counties received free clothing, books, backpacks, school supplies, baby gear and toiletries.”
Bloom celebrates the work and commitment of its own foster parents by providing other unique supports such as the Welcome Home program, the Bloom University monthly training program, and a regular calendar of year-round foster parent networking and appreciation events.“Being a foster parent with Bloom has been great—from the trainings to the regular house visits, to the Bloom Closet! We see the support and are thankful for everything Bloom has done to make fostering a wonderful experience,” comments Stephen Schultheis, a Bloom foster parent.
Bloom is currently seeking more foster families to support metro Atlanta’s growing number of foster children who are committed to DFCS custody. Bloom provides individuals with all the necessary training, resources, and support needed to become a foster home. For more information, about becoming a Bloom foster parent, please contact Shannon Hoy, Bloom Licensing Specialist, at 770-460-6652.
Bloom is a non-profit organization that offers safe refuge and supportive services to foster children. Founded in 1989 and based in Fayetteville, GA, the organization’s main programs include: a foster parent recruitment, training, and placement program, a monthly training program for foster parents, and a clothing resource center for foster children, called The Bloom Closet. In the past year, Bloom has provided services and support to more than 2,000 foster children from 80 Georgia counties. For more information about Bloom, please visit www.bloomouryouth.org or call 770-460-6652.
About Georgia Conference on Children and Families
Georgia Conference on Children and Families is the largest annual interdisciplinary event in Georgia designed to bring together the community that serves children and families. The conference features specialized tracks, plenary sessions and networking opportunities with the goal of improving outcomes for the children and families that we serve. For more information, please visit www.georgiachild.org.
Here’s How You Can Get Involved:
SPONSOR A FOSTER CHILD FOR CHRISTMAS
It’s that time of year again! The holidays are approaching and Bloom is looking for individuals and businesses to sponsor foster children for the holidays. There are more than 100 “Angel Tree” present requests for foster children who are the victims of abuse and neglect. All gifts are due to Bloom by Dec. 13. Contact Nancy Connert, email@example.com, for more information at 770-461-7020.
HOST A WINTER COAT DRIVE
“Project: One Cozy Coat”
Bloom is launchign a new program at The Bloom Closet called “Project: One Cozy Coat!” The goal is to collect 1,000 winter coats to distribute to foster children in Fayette County and surrounding areas. Are you willing to donate a coat or host a children’s coat drive at your school, church or neighborhood? Contact Erica Mims, firstname.lastname@example.org, to get started!
PROVIDE SOCKS & UNDERGARMENTS
Making a basic necessities donation to The Bloom Closet is as easy as 1-2-3 with the help of Amazon. The Bloom Closet maintains a Wish List on Amazon.com. The donations of your choice are sent directly to The Bloom Closet and given to a foster child in need. Simply search for The Bloom Closet within Amazon’s Wish Lists.
BECOME A BLOOM FOSTER PARENT
Bloom is looking for individuals willing to open their hearts and homes to foster children. Get your foster parenting questions answered by attending a FREE informational meeting, held every Thursday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Speak directly with Bloom associates about the requirements and journey to becoming a Bloom foster family. You are welcome to attend these casual, informative meetings. No commitment is required. To RSVP, contact Shannon Hoyat at 770-461-7020 x 303.
THE BLOOM CLOSET
When children are removed from their homes by the Department of Family And Children’s Services, they are confused and often at the lowest time of their lives. If that’s not hard enough, nine out of ten of them arrive into the foster care system with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They deserve to feel and look like the best child they can be.
Bloom gets to work on that immediately. That’s why The Bloom Closet was created. The Bloom Closet provides Georgia’s foster children with free clothing, baby gear, books and school supplies. Items are either new or gently used. The environment is that of a fun store. Bloom’s mission is to make foster children feel special. Because they are.
The Bloom Closet is open by appointment only. Visits are scheduled on a quarterly basis or after a growth spurt. The clothing and supplies are free, but the support shown to the children and to the foster parents who care for them is priceless.
Through October, The Bloom Closet has served 2,300 children from 80 Georgia counties. By the end of the year, 2,500 foster children will have benefited from our community’s generosity.
Typically, the children who shop in The Bloom Closet have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. They are scared, traumatized, and feel displaced. To them, The Bloom Closet is more than just pickign out clothing; it’s a reminder that they are loved and valued as members of our community.
The Bloom Closet is operated mainly by volunteers and the items in the store are donated by inviduals, businesses, churches, and civic groups. In October, Bloom gave away 13,373 items and volunteers and groups donated more than 600 hours to operating the facility.
As a non-profit organization, Bloom relies on the donations of individuals and groups to help meet the needs of displaced children and youth. Your tax-deductible donations will be offered free-of-charge to foster children living in the state of Georgia. Your donation of the following items is much appreciated:
- New or gently used shoes and clothing (size infant through teen)
- Socks and underwear (new)
- Winter jackets, mittens, and hats
- Diaper wipes and diapers
- Baby powder, lotion, diaper rash ointment, infant shampoo
- Baby Gear (diaper bags, infant carriers, baby swings, cribs, etc)
- Baby blankets, baby linens
- Baby bottles, sippy cups, bibs, pacifiers (new)
- Toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, soap
- Haircare products
- Paper Products such as paper towels, paper plates, napkins, garbage bags
- Cleaning Products
- Books for babies, children and teens
- School Supplies
- Canned Goods, Food Items
- Gift Cards to movies, restaurants, and clothing stores
Items can be dropped off at the Bloom office at:
- 150 Marquis Drive Fayetteville, GA 30214
- Monday-Friday from 9:00 am– 4:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am – 2:00pm.
If you have a special skill or talent or simply the desire to help, Bloom needs volunteers for the following:
- Stockroom Support Assist with the receiving, processing and replenishment of donated merchandise in The Bloom Closet. Must be able to lift 15 pounds.
- Clerical/Office Support Assist with mailings, data input, and receptionist duties
- Childcare Assistant Babysit children during foster parent training and foster parent appreciation events. This position requires a background check.
- Special Skill Teachers Teach special skills such as cooking, guitar lessons, knitting, or money-management to foster children.
- Delivery Person Pick up and deliver donations; must be able to lift large bags of clothing and other heavy items.
- Seamstress Volunteers are needed to hem, mend and repair buttons on donated clothing.
- Children’s Librarian Volunteers with knowledge of children’s books are needed to maintain book section in The Bloom Closet.
- Clothing Drive Organizers Groups or individuals are needed to organize neighborhood, church, or community clothing drives for Bloom.
To get started, please fill out a Volunteer Application at http://bloomouryouth.org/get-involved/volunteer/ or call 770-461-7020.