Like many families during the summertime months, life is full of adventures, long days and later bedtimes.
With Love had it’s share of adventures and long days this summer. With the transition and relocation to their new facility, much of the summer months were spent packing, unpacking and organizing.
Added to this mix, With Love welcomed three interns and an intern coordinator. These four new additions stepped right into this busy energy, eager to gain experience and education in this non-profit world.
Taking their summer break from college, they desired to pour their time into learning about and assisting With Love.
To help direct this process and experience, Shanna Swatrz was hired as the summer intern coordinator. Shanna loved being able to guide these young ladies as they worked, learned and laughed together.
School has been in session for 3 weeks now; and these past three weeks I’ve just been exhaling.
Shanna remembers the day she said “yes” to this opportunity. “I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I said yes to Allie. I just never expected to be around such strong, confident and hard working young women who did anything they were asked.” Shanna says she was impressed by how flexible and hard working the girls were and how much they accomplished together.
“We had three young women from different backgrounds and they all worked well together and genuinely are friends now.”
Working together with a common vision and passion creates fast friendship and camaraderie.
“There were so many learning opportunities, times to forgive and figure out how to work together. It was truly a life changing, growing experience.”
Some of the most memorable times for Shanna was watching the interns interact with the foster families and children.
“My thoughts have drastically changed because you can’t judge people by where they live or socio economic status or ANYTHING! … People have huge hearts and make big sacrifices to be foster families and they are under appreciated.”
As Shanna makes a big move to Florida this fall, she still plans on being involved at With Love whenever she visits Oregon. She truly has a big heart for these families and a true desire to serve and love.
Thank you, Shanna! Your leadership, hard work, and love for our staff is so appreciated. We needed you for this season. We are better because you said ‘yes.’
Intern Bri Brown is an organizational community major at George Fox University. She applied to intern at With Love because she herself grew up in the foster care system, and she has a heart and compassion for children in foster care and their families.
“Dignity is a huge factor. Ever since I was in foster care I’ve referred to myself as a foster kid. But the wording at With Love is “a child in foster care” because they aren’t defined by their living situation.”
Bri loved working personally with the families. Time and time again she was impressed by the sacrifice and love families showed. “Once I did a pull for three brothers, ages 6,5,&4. … this family kept three brothers together and boys at that age are difficult and need extra shoes and clothes since they wear through them so fast. I made sure all the boys had blankets and toys that were specific to their likes and packed the oldest boy’s backpack for kindergarten.”
Another time Bri helped a man who had a month old baby with Downs Syndrom. “Foster care is messy and families that say yes to children with special needs have extra doctors appointments and a new learning curve. I love that the community we work with are so dedicated to the kids. It doesn’t matter how messy. I’m just in awe of how great these families are.”
Being on the other side of foster care now, Bri was able to see first hand the love, and she was thrilled to be apart of it.
“I’ve always wanted to work with foster families and kids in foster care because of my own experience.”
Thank you Bri! Your hard work and creative spirit made a huge difference. Your art and carts will live on.
Paige Elkins took a summer break from Oregon State and her sociology degree to learn more about foster care and how a non profit operates.
Paige said she wasn’t very familiar with foster care, but was amazed by the love she witnessed while volunteering.
“I thought I knew what the environment of a non-profit was like, but I think I was surprised by how involved the volunteers were.”
Paige began her internship during With Love’s move to a new facility. Not only she gain insight into the operations, but she also gained valuable “life skills” as well.
“The move provided space for a lot of hard work and new ideas. I am someone who thrives with structure and clear expectations, but I know that the world often doesn't work like that. With Love challenged me to be flexible, while also encouraging me to be confident and use my voice to ask good questions.”
As Paige transitions back to school to continue her education, she feels her summer at With Love broadened her perspective in so many ways.
“I am leaving With Love with a much better understanding of all that children in foster care go through and how much foster parents do to support these kids. I think I have a lot more respect for foster parents who take these children, often with little notice, and the sacrifices they make for them. I also understand the need that With Love fills to give children in foster care dignity and intentionality in such tangible ways.”
You are amazing Paige! Your poise, focus, and hard work got so many tasks accomplished.
Tamara Cluff, a junior sociology major at Oregon State, interned at With Love because she was immediately drawn to the ‘compassionate and empowering nature’.
She has lots of experience working with families and volunteering for organizations in anticipation for a social work career. “With Love really appealed to me because of the impact and resources it provided for a group of under represented people.”
“I had no idea what to expect when I started this internship, but I was happily surprised with the empowering and uplifting environment that is fostered by all the super dedicated women who contribute endless support and hard work.”
Moving a whole warehouse to figuring out how to unfold a table, Tamara says her collaboration with the other interns, volunteers and employees at With Love was a wonderful, life changing experience.
“I realized that families closest to the displaced child have to make huge sacrifices to help a child they were quickly placed with. I also learned about the supportive community and love given unconditionally. I was immediately humbled and overwhelmed with the way families worked so hard to get their kids the resources they needed.”
Tamara says her internship gave her a glimpse into the non-profit world and she hopes to use her sociology degree for this in the future.
Tamara, your heart and influence at With Love will never be forgotten! Your laugh and zest for life brought so much joy to staff, volunteers, and foster families.
It’s inspiring that four women from different backgrounds, experiences and ages can come together for a few months and accomplish so much. It’s their love for the community they are serving that binds them together and enables them to accomplish what they did.
They would all say that the love they saw first hand from the foster families and volunteers was inspiring and energizing. It’s an atmosphere and environment they hope to continue to support and be a part of in the future.
Those long summer days may be gone for now, but the the door is always open to anyone who desires to experience first hand this type of community and a love that is truly life changing.