HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to state officials there are more than 1,700 children in foster care right now.
A number made even more difficult to grasp during the holidays.
But among the many organizations who help is Family Programs Hawaii which is led by many countless inspirational people.
It’s not exactly the North Pole.
There’s no santa here – yet!
However, the holiday spirit is in full swing at the headquarters of Family Programs Hawai as they prepare for their 21st annual holiday party.
“Every year we don’t know if were going to make it happen and then last minute everything comes in to play,” said Jennifer Yang of Family Programs Hawaii.
Adding to the challenge, the fact that number of foster children statewide is rising.
“I think like every organization we need a lot of help,” added Yang. “But people don’t realize you don’t have to be a big help. Every little thing helps. You don’t have to foster or adopt? No. You don’t have to foster. You don’t have to adopt. You don’t even have to make a huge donation.”
April Lum is one of the many resource caregivers who did chose to adopt even before she started working for the organization.
KHON2 asked: “You fostered a child eventually adopted and now you’re fostering a second?”
“Yes it’s been a roller coaster,” Lum explained. “My husband and I saw a sign for partners in development foundation looking for foster parents, and we thought this is maybe something we can do”
April admits at first she really didn’t fully understand what was she was doing as a foster mother.
“Yeah we could’ve just jumped right into it thinking we just want to love kids and do something nice,” said Lum. “We have the space in our home. Once we got to do it was like oh my gosh. We were overwhelmed, and we really felt at times can we do this?”
But once she started working for the non profit It all fell into place.
“I realized there’s so much support available for families providing foster care,” added Lum. “There’s so much community support and other resources and so many other foster parents who have done this. And I think a lot of these families and children feel like there’s not a lot of support. Or they could be alone in this process as they navigate the foster care system. So we’re there to really help support them to show them love and care.”
“April is an inspiration,” said Yang. “April does so much for the agency. She does with a lot of social workers do. Not only does she takes care of her own children she takes care of others. They look the faster they look for others to foster, and I think there’s just no words to describe the value she brings to our community.”
Together, the team at Family Programs Hawaii works to prevent families from even getting involved in the child welfare system. But if they do, they are their to provide support, and the love.
“So we have a big holiday event each year with the kids, just get to have fun, take pictures with Santa and really just enjoy their time together,” said Lum. “See other kids just like themselves in the same situation.”
While she hesitates to call her self an inspiration, April says if she could help motivate one other person to follow in her footsteps, she’ll wear the label happily.
“It’s a little bit hard to grasp to view myself that way but if I could help one family feel like maybe I can do this then great,” said Lum. “We know not everybody’s going to be able to foster a child. Maybe somebody watching, maybe somebody was hearing this for the first time. Maybe they’ll be able to change that life and not only just for the child but for their family as well.”