Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, about a quarter past nine, my four children asleep while we indulged in some wine. 

My husband and I were having such fun, wrapping our gifts, we were just about done. 

When suddenly we paused and sat back and observed, a collective gasp as we realized the mistake that occurred! 

 Really had we forgotten one of our boys? How could this happen, we overlooked all his toys?!

Quick as a flash my husband jumped in his car, off to Target which wasn’t too far. 

Gaining support from other last minute shoppers in line, he got what we needed, in the nick of time. 

Guilty we felt, but relieved just the same, 

next year we vowed we’d be more on top of our game. 

For the sake of informing I’m going to step out of rhyme,

hoping I secured your attention for a little more time. 

element5-digital-462720-unsplash.jpg

Looking back on that night now, my husband and I can joke about the “Christmas we forgot one of our kids.” However, sitting there Christmas Eve before everything was resolved made me sick to my stomach; I couldn’t stand the thought of one of my children waking up up Christmas morning without gifts under the tree, feeling perhaps unloved and forgotten.

However, this feeling has enabled me to recognize the burden that some foster families might experience during this season; last minute placements, financial strain and busy schedules can make the holiday season especially hectic. Foster care doesn’t get Christmas break!

Luckily, my husband and I had the resources and opportunity to find an open store last minute and purchase the gifts that could help us avoid this Christmas catastrophe. Unfortunately though, not all children and families have the same good fortune.

In a sense, With Love is the shopper in line at Target for foster families. With Love takes the extra financial and logistical burden.

Joy and honor are unwavering values at With Love; new circumstances, new situations and uncertain separation can cause great anxiety. A present under the tree, selected with intention and love can help alleviate worry and demonstrate worth.

This holiday season With Love will be serving 600 foster children. To aide in this extraordinary endeavor, Nike has made 500 pillow cases to hold gifts and treasures. 100 stockings have been made for babies and infants.

To make the experience even more genuine, parents can request specific items, toys and themes for their child in foster care.

Imagine the joy on Christmas for both parent and child when they receive a pillow case filled with toys and gifts intentionally and specifically bought with that child in mind!

Parents can collect the gifts at six different Foster Parent Night Out events.  Additionally, With Love will also be working with two DHS offices, a group called The Family Room as well as making special deliveries in order to ensure that every family is able to have special Christmas gifts under the tree. 


rawpixel-445773-unsplash.jpg

One of the greatest nights for me as a child was being tucked in bed Christmas Eve. I would lay there in the dark, dreaming about what I would find under the tree come Christmas morning. I still remember that feeling of anticipation and excitement. The only thing that has eclipsed that feeling is the joy I feel as I see my excited children’s faces as they try and fall asleep as fast they can so that Christmas can come faster! Every child (and parent) deserves to feel this anticipation and excitement and With Love is making that a reality for foster families this holiday season.

The Christmas we “forgot" was solved with some quick thinking and luck. But, how can WE  as a community, work together to ensure that no child is forgotten on Christmas? It’s an easy 2-steps!

  1. Buy a gift or much needed item. Do this individually, or as a family, or community group or a book club or a sports team……..get creative in how YOU can honor a family and child this season. Ideas and needs can be found here.

  2. Drop off your gifts at a convenient drop off site: With Love Warehouse, RiverWest Church, Bridgeport Village mall Concierge Desk. 

Here’s an additional incentive: The beautiful children boutique in the mall, Le’D Bug Boutique is offering %20 off to anyone who purchases clothing for With Love! They will also send it free!


Additionally, any remaining gifts not used this holiday will be used for birthdays during the year! Your time, energy and resources are never wasted in this cause. 

I am a mom who really anticipates the tradition and magic of the season, probably sometimes to a fault as I can dream big and then wear myself out trying to surprise and delight my family. This season, I am really looking forward to Christmas shopping with my kids for a foster child. I’m looking forward to perusing the aisles in the store, discussing which gifts would make a child happy and having conversations about family and what it means to be a community and extend our love to other families and children.

I’m looking forward to hearing from my children why it’s important to make sure no child is forgotten on Christmas morning and what is might feel like to be away from the familiar, and how we can help make that child feel special.

I’m looking forward to taking a break from our own lists and “to-dos” and focusing on what the season is really about. 

How many other people are willing to join me on this community effort in supporting our foster families and honoring our foster children? 

Let’s make Christmas magical together! 















Giving Tuesday

annie-spratt-191126-unsplash.jpg

By Theresa Patton

It was one of those afternoons that made you feel like everything in the world at that moment was right. A blanket of warm afternoon sunshine rested on the backyard, reflecting the flecks of gold in the leaves as they tumbled steadily to the ground below. However, at the back of the yard stood my four year old son, shaking his fist at the heavens, pleading with the trees above him to stop dropping fresh leaves. After an afternoon of raking and despite all efforts, red and gold leaves continued to float gracefully down and land on the  grass below.

He paused for a moment, contemplating the futility of work I suppose, but decided that perhaps the rewards for his labor would be worth it in the end.

I believe he realized that with a little more effort, more leaves resulted in a larger pile; which, of course, there is only one thing a child aspires to do with a pile of freshly raked leaves. ;)

Fall is a season of transition. It’s the gradual, steady change to the cooler weather, the holidays on the horizon, and a more nocturnal, cozy existence. It’s still all so magical to me, and I still anticipate the months ahead with excitement as I ready our family for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I find that in this I must pause and transition in my heart and mind as well. A summer of fun and leisure is behind us; the memories of beach trips, long hot days at the park and BBQs with family and friends are slowly fading into treasured memories. Our days are shorter, more scheduled, more focused. 

As a mom of four little ones, I navigate this season with intention as I strive to direct the focus to things that matter more than sandy feet and drippy ice cream cones. 

Family dinners become more regular; conversations about the day circulate the table. 

The rhythms of my day are more dictated by routine and  vision, rather than fun and leisure. 

And with the start of a new season, it’s time to haul out my boxes from below. 

Yes, my husband has finally surrendered our home to my seasonal boxes. 

He understands that when I decend  into our storage area to retrieve a box, thus commences the holiday. Each labeled box contains  decorations and activities to assist in celebrating and setting the intention for the holiday ahead. 

During the month of November, I reveal our Thanksgiving Tree. 

In order to reflect on the blessing of the past year, our family adds daily a single leaf to the tree. Upon the leaf is written something we are grateful for this past year.  By the end of the month, the collective leaves have formed a full tree. It’s beautiful as we watch the daily words of gratitude add up and fill out the barren tree branches. 

At the end of the month, when our giving tree can not hold another leaf, we then discuss how we want to “release” these blessings. Where, to whom, do we want to drop a leaf?! 

It takes intentional conversations to take the focus off ourselves during this season. This is why reflecting on gratitude and generosity is a high priority. 

With #givingtuesday on the horizon, my husband and I begin to discuss organizations and nonprofits we want to support finically. Granted, there are so many amazing non profits out there all doing good things; but for my husband and I, we really partner  with the ones that align closest to our hearts and home. 

Our life is focused and consumed with raising our four young children. We understand the sacrifice, work and importance of this job. 

When we started to hear about the urgent need for foster families in Oregon, we felt something in us connect with this cause. 

We were shocked that over 8,700 children a day need a loving, safe home.  Although we feel passionate about this need, we ourselves  don’t feel called to do this job at this time. However,  we truly admire and want to support those individuals and families who open their hearts and homes for such an important job. 

Therefore, With Love is the non profit that just makes sense to support. 
They are local and involved deeply in our community, making it more loving and whole.  
They align with our values.
They support the flourishing of families and children.
We want to be a part of it. 
So we are.
This is where we want our gratitude to spill over. 
This is the place we want drop our leaf. 

Last year, With Love served 990 children. They made 330 deliveries to 470 children. They were able to purchase a van to streamline deliveries. They expanded their impact in the community and the vision is to reach even more in this upcoming year. 

It’s now when With Love gathers the majority of their resources for the upcoming year. Although much of the material goods are donated, things like car seats, underwear and some clothing sizes must be purchased. 

Financial support also covers logistical operations of the warehouse and pays the few salaried employees.

The hope is to reach $60,000; a $10,000 match is already in place. How can you and your family support families and children in your community? 

1.  Make a one time end of the year donation in honor of someone special. 

Instead of hurriedly trying to find last minute gifts for everyone on your list, why not support With Love in honor of your loved one? This gift of support is much more meaningful and it won't get lost under the couch in a few days. 

2. Contribute a family legacy donation

As a family, define who you want to be, determine your values and develop an action plan on how to live this out. If you find that you want to strengthen families and children, putting your resources into With Love is a way to put your heart into action. 

3. Commit to a monthly pledge 

Foster a heart of gratitude and love year round by making a commitment to contribute monthly to With Love. A steady guarantee of support allows With Love to more accurately plan for the future and ensures that all the needs and supplies are met. 

During this seasonal transition in your home and within the rhythms of your family life, I encourage you to pause and count your blessings. Create a plan for  giving back, in honor of all that has been given to you this past year as well as how you can continue to nourish a heart of gratitude and love for what you value. 

With Love is totally dependent on you, the community. 

Drop your leaf. Create an accumulation of resources that will truly enable families across Portland to flourish. 

As I watch my own kids tumble, turn and dance in the leaves with such joy and ease, I long for a day when all children feel this loved, this hopeful, this carefree. 

With Love would love to hear from you the ways you try to incorporate this season of giving and gratefulness with your family or within yourself. What is your plan of giving back?

Let’s learn from each other and make this #givingtuesday and season of giving the best one yet!

With Love's First Benefit Dinner

Seated in the Marylhurst University ballroom on the evening of Oct. 1 attending the first With Love Benefit dinner and auction, I couldn’t help but flashback to four years earlier; reclining on Allie Roth’s couch in her living room, sipping on coffee while my baby daughter crawled around her floor, Allie had something she needed to share with me. She had an idea, a dream, something she was certain would improve foster care in the community. 

 

She had a glimmer in her eyes as she excitedly explained to me, “It is a place where foster parents feel honored and supported. They can get everything they need, and it will be all donations.”  She described to me, in detail, her vision and plan for an organization, a place, that would support and honor foster families in the community. 

I could feel her passion for this mission; I could sense her urgency for this need. She had it in her mind and heart, and I knew somehow, this was going to be more than a passing dream. 

She even had it named: “With Love,… Because the community will come together and share in this, and individuals and families can volunteer in honor of someone. It will be a place where people can receive and be blessed, both the giver and the receiver.”

 

Now, flash forward, four years later and here I sit, among the other approximately 210 people, applauding the successes and future ambitions of With Love,. 

That dream, that vision, that plan has suddenly become a thriving reality. 

 

With Love’s first benefit dinner and auction was a perfect blend of elegance, fun, celebration and challenge. Businesses from all over the community stepped up to donate many desirable auction items; guests could purchase $10 tickets to bid on the items they wanted. From wine tours, to swimming lessons, to art and fun family fun outings, there was something for everyone. The raffle created a sense of anticipation and excitement. 

 

In addition to auction items, there were also collection tables around the room for additional donations to foster children. Guests mingled and noshed on appetizers, sipped wine and beer and surveying the items. The room was buzzing with excited discussion! There was certainly an energy in the air. 

 

 The auction tables closed, and this energy was directed to the center of the room where beautifully decorated tables were set, waiting for guests to begin dinner. 

Colorful paper airplanes adorned the center of each table, creating a playful atmosphere; later in the evening, their craftsmanship was actually tested and tried as they were launched at other tables. These decorations were a great reminder and representation of the innocence of these foster children being served. 

Scott Roth, Allie’s husband, then took the stage to introduce his wife, the visionary, founder and president of With Love..  Allie took to the stage and enthusiastically detailed the history and story of With Love, the positive impact its made on the community and her goals and dreams for the future. 

 

As she spoke, there was that undeniable spark in her eye again. The passion and drive has not wavered one bit in the 4 years since I sat in her living room, hearing of it for the first time. Now, with the belief that even more kids could be served, she voiced a bold goal of raising $55,000 dollars during the dinner. She recognized several community sponsors and supporters, one being First Tech Credit Union, who generously agreed to match $1,000 contributions dollar for dollar up  to $10,000. 

 

Several people took the stage to tell their stories of being a foster parent and the impact With Love, has made in lessening the financial, physical and emotional burdens.  They described the adrenaline rush of receiving the sudden phone call from DHS, notifying them of a child needing care. With emotion, they talked about how With Love was on the front lines, delivering to their door everything they needed, free of charge, allowing them to put all their energy and focus into the child rather than the material necessities. 

Foster care advocate Embrace Oregon’s Director, Brooke Gray took to the stage too, relaying her experience of working with foster care parents as well as taking on the role herself.  Embrace Oregon commended and recognized With Love’s support and credited that the Portland Community is stronger because of With Love’s partnership with DHS and foster families. 

 

To conclude the dinner, very specific needs and goals were addressed. One area of focus was older toddler boy clothing. Donations for this age are extremely low, so a fund was created just for this need, called “Let’s Hear it For the Boys.”  To the background of Deniece Williams' song, envelopes were passed, volunteers helped with credit card transactions and financial pledges and donations were collected. 

 

The night concluded with the room sharing in a truly heartfelt applause. The night was an overwhelming success. The message and mission of With Love, was wonderfully conveyed and the goals were met with affirmation; this is truly a cause worth supporting. The monetary goal was met and was exceeded; $60,220 was raised. 

The evening was a perfect embodiment of all that With Love, stands for and strives to be in the community.

We are stronger;

We are more unified; 

We can show more Love.

 

Thank you With Love, for a tremendous event!

- Theresa Patton

 

Love is the Greatest Remedy for Fear

"The other night I was tucking my 4 year old daughter into bed, when she seemed to be deep in thought. Suddenly, out of the blue she clung to me, pleading desperately, “momma, I don’t want you to die before me!”  I’m not sure where that thought came from, but it left me with a deep pit in my stomach. I realized that her greatest fear in life was being separated from her mom and dad. At age 4-at any age- a child’s parents are his/her’s world; they are protection, love and comfort. A world without this security is one of loneliness, uncertainty and fear. 

 

I left my daughter’s room that night feeling a little helpless; I could not fully calm that anxious feeling I knew she had. I felt sad that she had these thoughts and these fears of abandonment and being alone. As I thought back to this conversation later that night, I realized this is what foster children must feel like. They must have these very same fears and anxieties about being alone, unloved and suddenly vulnerable. 

This is the very reason I get behind With Love, and the work they are doing partnering with foster families. By providing the necessary materials and support, they are allowing these families to put all the focus and energy into loving and caring for these children; these children whose greatest fear just became a reality.  

 

I don’t know how I can assure my daughter that I will always be around all her growing up years. As much as I truly hope and pray I can be there for her, the only thing I can control is how I love her in this moment. Love is the greatest remedy for fear. 

We have control in how we live in each day and how we treat and honor those in our lives. 

Be intentional.

Love deeply. 

And give selflessly, With Love."

 

Written by Theresa Patton

Team of volunteers working together

It takes a village to serve 70+ kids a month. We have so many people who lovingly pour their time in and effort into washing, sorting, bagging, pulling, and delivering items. Many of these people play their part, but don't know what happens next. Here is a thoughtful note from our delivery driver. She is delivering to some special needs kids and was REALLY impressed with how our 'puller' Mary prepared the items that were sent out. 

"Mary Hope did a fantastic job pulling items for these children!!  I ran into Mary when I picked up the delivery and she told me she had spoken with the foster mom the day before.  I'm not sure if this is standard or one of Mary's special touches to talk with the foster parent before selecting items to send, but it gave Mary great insight and helped her select surprisingly thoughtful and appropriate items!  

 

For example, Mary learned the girl could not sit but needed toys.  Mary had the idea for and found a beautiful overhead activity center that the foster mom was tickled with!  Mary also wondered if the child might need extra support so sent along a breast feeding pillow that could be used to slightly elevate the child under the activity center.  The foster mom was VERY pleased with the pillow and said it will be very helpful!  The foster mom also noted the hole in the center of the pad and said this will be good for "tummy time" too, as the trach can slip down in the empty space and not have pressure applied.

 

How wonderful Mary was to open her heart and mind so wide and do such a fantastic job!  I was sure pleased to see Mary was selected as Volunteer of the Month!  She also has my vote for Volunteer of the Year!

 

The little boy was excited to open the bag of all his clothes and he excitedly called out each item, put on a shirt, commented on how nice things looked and felt, how his teacher would be happy to see he now has a winter coat, how he wanted to wear this new bathing suit next time they went swimming, etc.!  He giggled as he pulled out all the books and toys, tested many toys.

 

The foster mom appeared quite surprised and extremely pleased with all that was also sent for the girl.  She noted that her request for clothing that would not be hot was so well honored.  She commented positively on the clothes' styles, colors, quantities.  Very gauzy light weight blankets were a big hit too; she said they are expensive but that the girl uses them daily when she sleeps.  

 

How wonderful for me to meet this family, see the help and joy the With Love delivery brought them!"

- CeCe

Delivery driver and former foster parent 

With Love, is able to serve so many precious children because people in our community say 'yes' to serving. We are so thankful for people like Mary and CeCe who show up weekly to support kids in foster care.

-Allie Roth

Sweet note

We love surprising our foster families with more than they asked for. Who doesn't love it when you ask for a 'tall' drink at Starbucks and they accidentally make you a 'grande.' Thanks to all of our donors we are able to give generously to the foster families. Here is a sweet note we got today:

"Good morning;

I just met CeCe, a wonderful lady who brought what you sent to me and my kids.

I wanted to tell you how Thankful I am for all of the things that you sent.

I was expecting at the most a couple packages of socks, and underwear for A,

and maybe 2 toys for M.

I am so Thankful for you generosity, and help."

M

Foster families work so hard. They are our heroes. We love to support them the best way we can. 

- Allie

 

067e7420-fb60-4788-b6b5-db44e64f0f9c.jpeg

Humbled

It takes a village of volunteers to accomplish what we do weekly. We are always so thankful for those people who come and give the gift of their time to help serve kids locally in foster care. Recently two leaders have been asked to work or lead a small group else where. (Yes, our head leaders are that amazing.) Yet, they not only have stayed with us, they have asked what more they can do. Yep, taking on more tasks and responsibilities. As the founder of With Love, it's these moments when I realized that With Love, has out grown me. There are other people wanting to pour more of their valuable time into serving at With Love, than get paid for a part time job?!? This is humbling. It also is a testimony to the dedication and love that these head leaders have for the task at hand. They truly understand the 'heartbeat' of With Love, and want to be a part of making a difference. 

With Love, works with the most vulnerable kids in Portland. That's not an easy task at times. There is a lot of healing many of these sweet kids need to do. Thankfully we have some dynamite leaders that are committed to making their journey just a little easier. 

I'm truly thankful to be volunteering along side all you amazing volunteers. I'm humbled and thankful. 

-Allie Roth

Speaking at the National League of Young Men's Dinner

Allie Roth was asked to speak at the National League of Young Men's Dinner. It was a wonderful event that allowed her to share about volunteering at With Love, as well as how they could get involved. It was after the dinner that something interesting happened. This is the note she wrote to the NYLM head leader:

“What a delightful group of young men you have. I loved seeing everyone dressed up and the kind gentlemen who loaded my car were great. Thank you for allowing me to be part of such a special night. As I walked through the doors to leave, a server followed me and asked for a moment. Painfully, she told me that from age 9 – 18 she was in foster care. Her aunt adopted her brothers but stuck her in the system because she was a girl. She explained how powerful it was to see a group of kids want to give kids in foster care a better story. She was very articulate about how even now that she works, is married and is in nursing school, she is feeling the after effects of society telling her she “isn’t worth it”. She was stunned to go to work today and see a big pile of quality items that a beautiful group of boys with their parents had brought to help kids in foster care. It was unheard of for her. It was also special for me to look her in the eyes and tell her that we are trying our best for those littles who don’t have a voice like she does. And to tell her that she has beat the statistics, which isn’t easy. I was able to give her a big hug and tell her how truly thankful I am that I met her. If it wasn’t for tonight, I would not have met her and she would not have known how amazing your group is. Thank you for that moment.”

JG- a foster mom's story

“I can’t begin to express my thankfulness to With Love for the unbelievable support they have shown my family. We unexpectedly became full time foster parents again when the sibling of our (adopted) son came into foster care recently. In the midst of a very full life, this transition of adding another person to our family has had a massive affect on all 6 members of our family and it has been a challenging adjustment. While working, navigating DHS, extra doctor and other appointments and being there for the emotional well-being of our foster son,  the time to go run errands never seemed sufficient (not to mention how overwhelming the thought of buckling up 5 kids in the car to run around town).  Imagine my delight when I filled out a With Love request and the needed items were dropped off at my house free of charge! It was the embodiment of “service with a smile”.  Nancy, the kind volunteer who made the delivery said she had been praying for me on the way over and it just brought me to tears. We are often reminded that God loves us and is ever-present with us in the messiness through a community of caring people. Thank you, With Love, for tangibly reminding us of God’s goodness in the midst of a challenging situation”.  

 

~ JG, foster mom