The 1st Annual Awareness Walk to Grady County was held this past Saturday, November 12th at the USAO Oval in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Concerned women from area churches, in connection with OKDHS and the Oklahoma Office of Faith Based and Community Initiative, planned the Walk a Mile in My Shoes event to bring awareness to the need of good Christian foster homes in Oklahoma and specifically the Grady County area.
Walk a Mile in My Shoes was an approximately 1 mile family-oriented walk to promote AWARENESS and RESPONSE to the crisis faced by thousands of Oklahoma children in the Foster Care system, which is currently suffering from a shortage of good foster homes as well as a lack of community involvement.
In January of 2011 there were over 8000 children who, through no fault of their own, were in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). They may not be orphans in the sense that they no longer have parents, but their families are not able to care for them due to incarceration, extreme poverty, physical abuse, drug abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Several individuals spoke from different areas of expertise about these important issues. John Herndon shared his perspective as the Grady County Associate District Judge. Nicole Shobert, Foster Parent and soon-to-be Adoptive Parent, helped us understand the experience of a family who has chosen to take in and love children who have become part of the Oklahoma Foster Care System. Angie Young shared her fathers’ experience as a child navigating through the foster care system with all his belongings carried in a trash bag and stuffed in his pockets.
Participants were encouraged to bring a new or gently used bag or suitcase to carry or pull during the walk and then donate to Grady County DHS. Most children who enter the foster system carry their belongings in a trash bag. Our hope is that every child in the OK foster care system will have a bag or suitcase to keep their belongings. Over 85 pieces of luggage were donated that day!
During the event information was available on ways to bring solutions to this crisis through PRAYING, VOLUNTEERING, or FOSTERING/ADOPTING. Organizers encouraged the entire Oklahoma Faith Community to participate in “DEFENDING THE FATHERLESS.”
Organizers believe, according to James 1:27, that each believer is called to care for the orphan in some capacity. Not every believer is called to adopt or become a foster family, but each believer can do something. They asked members of the community to prayerfully consider getting involved and encourage others to get involved in this event to bring awareness to the cause of the fatherless.
A Foster Care Ministry is being started in the Grady County area. If you would like more information on ways YOU can make a difference, you can contact Trinity Church.