An Incredible Celebration with Foster Care Families

I alluded to this in my Events, Invites and a Blog Candy Giveaway post on Sunday, and I’m excited that today is finally here so I can share the story of my amazing weekend along with some wonderful photos (please note:  you’ll see little blue stars in several of these picture to honor the anonymity of the children who attended the event).

An Overview

I was thrilled when Rhonda, a resource development administrator for the Georgia Department of Family & Children Services, reached out to me to organize a “scrapbooking event” for the families in Georgia Foster Care Program during their annual celebration of the participants of the program.  I didn’t take a breath before responding with a big “YES!  I’ll do it.”  Here’s a picture of Rhonda and me – her shirt says “Every child deserves a forever family” (I love that!):

Brian King & RhondaRhonda found me online (yay for consistent blogging) and called with the particulars for the event – I placed an order with Stampin’ Up! for the supplies and agreed to show up for the event and walk the participants through Project Life by Stampin’ Up!

Receiving the Order

I don’t want to get too far ahead.  If you’ve ever received a Stampin’ Up! order (and I know you have!), then you know the excitement of opening the box(es) and sorting through all the products to make sure you have everything.  Even though this order would be delivered to the event for Foster Care Families, I was excited to receive and sort the order.  I took off work last week to be home when my UPS man dropped by to deliver 34 boxes of albums, pocket pages, cards, pens and supplies.  I was watching by the window all morning:

Waiting for the UPS truck, Brian King

You can bet I jumped for joy when the truck finally arrived and backed down my driveway (that’s a first!) to deliver my boxes:

The UPS truck is here!, Brian KingI met my UPS driver at the door – he delivers lots of boxes to my house but he knew this delivery was different.  The entire shelf on the left side of the truck was filled with my boxes.  We had time for a selfie:

The UPS truck is here!, Brian Kingand he left with a small thank you gift – a handmade card (of course!), two bottled waters, a gift card and some GooGoo Clusters.  He was excited to learn that I make cards with all the stuff he routinely delivers to my house.  🙂

My awesome UPS driver, Brian KingHere’s a look at all the boxes, stacked in the corner of my den:

The UPS truck is here!, Brian King

There’s a lot of happiness in these boxes!  Julie and Pam helped me spend the afternoon checking, sorting and repacking all the supplies.  It felt like Christmas – except for the 90 degree weather.  🙂

Heading to the Event

The event was organized by the Department of Family & Children Services as a celebration for their Foster Care Families.  We weren’t the only thing happening at this event – the event coordinators hosted a jumpy castle, a foam machine, lots of games, cotton candy and a barbecue luncheon.  The event was held at a park pavilion in High Falls State Park in Jackson, Georgia (about an hour-and-a-half South of Atlanta).

Several of my team members (and a couple of friends) jumped at the opportunity to help with this event – just as fast as I did.  We packed up two cars with boxes and people and headed out.  This is the back of Gay Lynn’s minivan as we hit the road (there was more stuff in the back of the other car, too!):

boxes for the event, Brian KingWhen we arrived at the park in Jackson (but before we started unloading boxes), we pulled over for a group photo by the man-made waterfall in the beautiful park:

Stampin' Up! road trip, Brian King

(left-to-right) Brian, Karen, Caroline, Gay Lynn, Katie, Jeremiah, Serina

If you were more interested in seeing the waterfall, here’s a great picture Serina snapped:

Waterfalls at High Falls State Park, Brian KingWhen we arrived at the pavilion, we helped set up tables and chairs and started unpacking all the supplies we brought with us – despite the fact that the room was without power (and air) initially, the group I brought with me jumped right in:

upacking at the event, Brian KingHere are some pictures of the setup at the front of the room:

Stampin' Up! Product Shots, Foster Care event, Brian KingStampin' Up! Product Shots, Foster Care event, Brian King Stampin' Up! Product Shots, Foster Care event, Brian King

Sharing at the Event

I gave the group of families a quick walk through of memory-keeping and documenting the small events of our daily lives.  I shared a book I made last year for my work team’s knitting project (my boss taught us all how to knit, and we made blankets for a homeless shelter and little caps for neonatal care unit).  I showed them how easy it was to sort the cards and pictures to tell a story – such an important thing for the children and the families who care for them.  We distributed an album, pocket pages and a journaling pen to each attendee.  We set out boxes of cards on each table for them to start filling their pages.  What a joy to share with them!

Walkthrough of Memory Keeping, Stampin' Up!, Brian King

Documenting their Memories

Here are some shots of folks who enjoyed playing with the cards and filling out their albums – I really can’t tell you how fun it was to watch the families begin to put together their albums:

Documenting Memories, Stampin' Up!, Brian King Documenting Memories, Stampin' Up!, Brian King Documenting Memories, Stampin' Up!, Brian King Documenting Memories, Stampin' Up!, Brian King Documenting Memories, Stampin' Up!, Brian KingMake-and-Takes

In addition to the albums the participants were able to assemble, I organized a quick-and-easy make-and-take with notecards.  The card included a cheerful banner and a stamp it-punch it-pop-it-up-with-dimensionals sentiment.  While the card was designed with the banner extending down the portrait layout of the card, Caroline (Gay Lynn’s daughter) really had fun with her sample card:

Caroline and her card, Stampin' Up!, Brian King

Caroline took over the make-and-take table (she was a real natural):

Make-and-takes, Stampin' Up!The “Happy Day” sentiment is from the Perfectly Wrapped stamp set.  I gave each family the opportunity to make two – one for the parents and one for the children.  I asked them to write a memory of a happy day to stick in the album.  I knew the parents would love the keepsake in the child’s writing and the children would love the keepsake in the parent’s writing.  Not everyone made the make-and-takes, but those who did loved it (as I knew they would)!

In Summary

What an amazing day!  I am so glad that Rhonda reached out to me and that I was able to participate in such an important celebration.  The friends and team members who accompanied me to the event all shared their joy at being able to serve these families.  We were able to talk to many of the mothers and fathers (and danced along side of several of the young children) about their experiences – beautiful people with beautiful stories.  I adore her Mama Bear shirt:

Documenting Memories with Foster Care Families, Brian King

I have a wonderful family (you already know how awesome my Mom is, right?).  In our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget how “happy family life” is not guaranteed to every child and “having children” is not guaranteed to every adult.  I am so grateful for my natural family, my Stampin’ Up! family and my family of friends outside of Stampin’ Up!.  I am so glad to have spent time with this awesome group of families and to make some new friends – so much joy all the way around!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Brian

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80 Comments

  1. “Be the good in the world” is what I think of after having read this. Thank you Brian.

  2. what an awesome event!

  3. This is so wonderful, Brian. Memories preserved forever.

  4. Rosemarie Cowit

    Wow. This is very amazing! What a wonderful day for everyone involved. ?Definitely a job well done, Brian!

  5. Brian…You touched and inspired so many people just by doing what you love. You and your group clearly gave from their heart…Thank you for sharing this worthwhile event!

  6. How wonderful! My daughter has expressed interest in becoming a foster parent and your post reminded me how special this calling is. Thanks so much for sharing

  7. What a wonderful event!! Thanks for sharing all the photos!

  8. Hey Brian,

    This is so awesome and what a gift for the foster youth. I am a retired county director for Human Services in CA, which includes Child Welfare Services/Foster Youth. These kids are incredible and get so little to validate who they are. I have a special place in my heart for foster youth. Thank you for giving this gift to them. We did an event similar to this and the youth loved it as did the foster parents. Thanks for doing this. I bet they loved it and I bet you got back more than you gave. You and the staff who created this are special.

  9. Wow. What a way to make a difference! I’m so happy that it was you who got the call to organize this because nobody can do it like The King!

  10. So incredibly inspiring, Brian! Thank you for sharing life every single day! 🙂

  11. So beautiful Brian! I loved reading this post! <3

  12. God bless you, Brian. You did really good! I love the idea for this event, and I am sure the Project Life made it easy for everyone to get started on this project. Hope they want to do it again.

  13. You’re an inspiration Brian!

  14. Brilliant!! So special to be able to bring joy to others and realise how privileged we are in our own lives. Well done all of you for your hard work and efforts, bravo!!

  15. Yay Brian and Team!! <3

  16. INSPIRATIONAL!!
    Thankyou for sharing this wonderful community spirit Brian 🙂

  17. Much love to you and your HUGE heart Brian <3 And well done to all of those that actually had the chance to particpate in this wonderful event x My wish is all children get an opportunity like this more often and far less misery and heartbreak

  18. El, a Stampin' Pretty Pal

    Wow, Brian! All I can say is “WOW”! I like to believe in karma. May you and your friends be blessed a thousand times over.

  19. What a beautiful experience – thank you for not only serving these families, but for sharing your experience with us!

  20. You are amazing. I can’t stop smiling seeing these photos!

  21. What a fabulous event! One more example to support my theory that the stamping community is overflowing with kindness.

  22. What a wonderful experience for you and the families you touched Brian. I am so stinkin’ proud of you! I would love to learn more about this with my programs and charities I do here. It looked amazing. I’ll bet your heart is full!

  23. Brian, you are awesome! Thanks for sharing your day with us on your blog.

  24. I am covered in goosebumps! This epic post makes my heart explode and just when I thought I couldn’t love you anymore!! What an incredibly special day to be a part of – I am sure everyone loved it. I laughed at the selfie with the UPS man and love the photo of all those people having an awesome day. You’re a rockstar Brian. xo

  25. What a fabulous thing you did! This was a really touching post and made me happy to read! How selfless of you to give back to your community not only with this project but also the knitting project. I love reading your blog because of your true talent and this only makes me even more happy to follow you!

  26. Brian you are one amazing beautiful soul the love and kindness that you share is the most warmest gift to be proud of. Thank you for sharing this amazing story, as I was reading you story I could feel the love, respect, fun, excitement and friendship that you shared. ❤️

  27. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful heart and soul. Your Mom I KNOW is so proud of you. My Mom always taught me to give back to others. THAT Brian is what you did for this group. Thanks for being a wonderful man!

  28. As a former foster Mom, thank you! May you and your team be blessed for paying it forward–having a way to document the lives in foster care! Hugs!

  29. Have missed some of your work, Brian, but catching up now and for next week or so.
    This post really touched me, Brian. What an AWESOME thing to do for those wonderful families. Children really need the love and care that you and others showered on them that day. I hope you can do something with them again. Loved the dancing with kiddos. They need you and others, Brian. I am so very touched and moved by this – really wish I lived closer to help. Keep the wonderful work in all of your families, Brian. HUGS

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