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Hands of Hope

“Foster Parents Are Essential Workers”: Launching Care Communities During a Pandemic

In 2019, Nick Grossman joined a church plant in Fishers, Indiana. Nick, an adoptive father and foster parent, knew right away that Pennington Park Church needed to focus on serving kids from hard places.

“We have such a rich culture of foster and adoptive families at our church,” Nick says. “People want to help…but how do you connect the two?” Amid the flurry and work of planting a new church, Nick decided to attend Hands of Hope’s Family Advocacy Ministry (FAM) Care Community Clinic. “We knew we couldn’t start from scratch,” Nick says. He found the clinic helpful, because it helped establish clear next-steps, practical paths to goal-setting based on real needs. Nick and other volunteers decided that Pennington Park would serve its vulnerable kids through Care Communities: tangible wraparound care for foster families.

The intended launch date? Spring of 2020.

“When everything started to shut down,” Nick says, “like most people, I thought it was only going to be a few weeks.” As the weeks turned into months, Nick grew more and more discouraged. “My energy was crushed at such a dramatic change,” he says. “All of the unknowns brought doubt. Before I knew it, six months had passed with no progress.”

As the pandemic stretched on and the world remained in limbo, Nick says he knew the ministry needed to move forward, even if it had to be in a creative way. “Foster parents are essential workers,” he says. “They don’t get to take a break.”

Ready or not, the time had come to act. The Pennington Park FAM decided to launch Care Communities in May 2021. Nick had no idea whether anyone would be willing to serve in the middle of a pandemic, but God provided. Fifty people attended the first training sessions, and the church was able to launch four Care Communities right out of the gate.

Serving during COVID has been interesting, Nick says, but he is thankful for God’s faithfulness—and the creativity of volunteers. “Prayer still works from six feet apart,” he says. Care Community volunteers have been able to drop meals on doorsteps, and Christmas gifts arrived without the giver ever needing to enter the house. “It’s been so fun to watch the communities develop,” Nick says. “This is not me; this is a passion of the church.”

To those feeling a desire to start a FAM, Nick acknowledges that jumping in can be scary. “We didn’t know half of the answers,” he says. But, he adds, “if you spend all of your time trying to get the answers, you’ll never get started.” He notes that while following God into the uncertain is daunting, it also shapes and strengthens. “Allow the Spirit to work through problem-solving as well as the planning.”

If YOU would like to learn more about starting a Family Advocacy Ministry at your church, join us at our next FAM Care Community Clinic!

Click here to learn more and register.

​Written By: Sarah Norris