CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Tours For Hope is an event that raises awareness for the Hope For One More foster care organization and held a community open house event on Saturday.
Hope For One More supports Hope Children's Home in Jackson as one of their programs. In addition to Hope Children's Home, Hope For One More has many additional foster care support and advocacy programs that provide services to foster children in the three-county area which include Cape Girardeau, Perry and Bollinger Counties.
They are needing more support with community volunteering and foster care advocacy.Hope For One More supports roughly 400 foster children in the three-county area with only 64 foster families.
The Tours For Hope event showcased five area community homes who opened their doors for tours for the organization. This allows the public to see and better understand the involvement and how a person can help the foster children.
"The homes on the tour belonged to people in our community who opened their homes to support foster care and Hope For One More because they all believed in the cause and believed the organization was doing things effectively to support foster children and foster parents," Area Properties Becky Harding said.
Crissy Mayberry, Hope For One More Executive Director and Foster Parent Advocate, said it's important for everyone to be aware what is going on with the foster care system and the children.
"Sometimes the outcomes for children in foster care are not very good," Mayberry said. "That is because there is a huge lack of community support. All it takes to change those is the community coming together to support children in foster care and foster families."
Mayberry stated that 30,000 children age out of foster care every year. Less than half of those children obtain a high school degree, 25 percent are homeless immediately and a lot of these foster kids, that become adults, will make up over 75 percent of the population in jail.
Dylan Sides said helping out the foster care system is really important to him. He advocates for Hope for One More because he went through the foster care system and sees first hand how the lack of support can shape a child growing up.
He stated that 66 percent of kids within the first year of aging out of the program are either homeless, in jail or dead.
It's why Sides feels so passionate to help out and why awareness events like these are important.
"Those aren't just numbers, those are friends. Those are people we considered brothers and sisters," Sides said. "Those are people we get up knowing for years of our life that are just gone. It helps us make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else's best friend or anybody else's sister or to anyone else."
Sides said help from involved adults help these kids get prepared for the adult world and have someone to connect to after they exit the system.
Sides also said there wasn't that many foster homes in the area and he had to stay in a residential facility.
"That's a huge issue," Sides stated. "It keeps kids from actually getting into a foster home and a lot of times they end up in either a residential facility or they end up going back home which really is never a good situation."
Sides said events like this are good to get people to come by and get some more support and hopes to get more foster training classes going in the near future.
"That way we can see some people wanting to volunteer and accept kids into their home. Kids that may not had a good home life to begin with or don't even know what a good home life is," Sides added.
One volunteer spoke with us about why she got involved and wanted to help out.
Penny Brown, a respite care provider and Hope for One More volunteer, said she doesn't believe many people actually understand how many children need these needs in the area.
"There's not awareness of how many children locally are displaced from their home temporarily or permanently," Brown said.
Mayberry commends Brown for getting involved and helping out. Brown does not foster a child but does help the children in a variety of ways including being a respite provider.
"That support is so huge and so important in making a difference in the life of the child and breaking some of the cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect which in the end is going to make our community a better place," Mayberry added.
"We personally weren't quite ready to reach out and start fostering right off the bat," Brown said. "We wanted to dip our toes in the water, for the lack of better words. That was a great option for us to introduce us to the world and to the kids involved."
Overall, Mayberry said it's important to get the awareness out about this so everyone can understand that there is something they can do to help out.
Mayberry also stated that their organization is entirely funded by community support and donations from the community.
"There is not any state money involved in our contracts," Mayberry added. "We are able to do what we do based on the generous community that we live in.
If you would like more information, go to www.hopechildrenshomejackson.com.