Lightning Foundation Grant Story Archive:A Ray Of Hope From The Sunshine ProjectSERVE Volunteers In EducationSt. Peter Claver Catholic Scholarship FundTampa Bay SLED Hockey ProgramEveryday Blessings For Foster ChildrenThe Spring Of Tampa Bay, Where Family Abuse EndsA Gift For TeachingSalesian Youth CenterConnected By 25On Wednesday, May 31 the Lightning Foundation, charitable arm of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, presented nine financial grants to charities in the Tampa Bay community totaling more than $70,000. Marking the first time in its history that the foundation has conducted a grant program, the event signaled the evolution and continued growth of the Lightning Foundation which aims to be a leader in Tampa Bay, helping to make our community a better place to live, work and play.
Below is the fifth of nine features that will run weekdays on tampabaylightning.com, detailing each program that received a grant and why it was selected by the Lightning Foundation's Board of Directors. For more information on each program or to learn how you can help please look for the link at the end of the story.
EVERYDAY BLESSINGS FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
Everyday Blessings is rewriting the book on foster care and adoption services. Not only do they provide food, clothing, shelter, tutoring, therapy and live-in caregivers that act as parents for foster children, but they have an innovative adoption and foster child placement system that allows them to deliver children to families faster and make the financial aspect easier.
"Everyday Blessings is able to serve neglected and abused children thanks to the generosity from the community including the Tampa Bay Lightning," Everyday Blessings Executive Director Emeritus Sister Claire LeBoeuf said.
Everyday Blessings was founded in August of 1997 as a non-denominational, cooperative adoption agency. It was licensed by the State of Florida as a Child Placing Agency in July of 1998 and as a Child Caring Agency in January of 2003. The organization is the second project of the St. Francis Foundation, a non-profit corporation operating in Florida. Everyday Blessings also provides residential and educational services for foster children waiting for homes.
Everyday Blessings was the fifth grant awarded by the Lightning Foundation in the first year of its grant program. The grant will provide computers and cell phones for eight social workers at the organization working with foster and adoptive families.
"I have never seen so much heart in an organization," LeBoeuf said. "We are extremely grateful for being a recipient of the Lightning's generosity. We are grateful that the social workers will receive these phones and will now be available to families at all times."
Approximately 4,500 children in Hillsborough County are in out-of-home care with 1,500 of them with relatives. The remaining 3,000 displaced children reside in foster homes. That is where Everyday Blessings comes in.
The mission of the organization is to ensure the stability and permanency, not only in the lives of children whose biological parents recognize their inability to care for them, but also for children who have been permanently removed from their families due to neglect and abuse. These children would otherwise probable spend the remainder of their childhood in the unstable, impermanent and frequently abusive foster care system.
"Our goal is to provide safe, stable and permanent homes for children," LeBoeuf said.
Everyday blessings aims to keep children away from lengthy stays within the foster care system by making it easier for families looking to adopt or provide foster care to get a child. Families that are qualified are often still not able to provide homes for children due to the extreme financial fees most adoption agencies charge up front. Everyday Blessings works with both birth parents and adoptive parents to ensure finances are not a barrier to finding the perfect home for a child.
The residential facility at Everyday Blessings can serve as many as 28 children at any given time. While there they are matched up with a live-in caregiver that acts as their parental figure. Children are matched with care-givers in a four-to-one ratio. Each group is a 'family' that goes on recreational, educational and church outings just like any other family. Children attend school or daycare during the week depending on their age with care-givers working 4:30 p.m. until 8:30 a.m.
The greatest roadblock for the residential program is recruiting, training and retaining care-givers. For more information or to find out how you can get involved visit their website at www.everybless.org.