JW Marriott Grand Rapids
December 1, 2012
PHOTOGRAPHER TIM MOTLEY
Last weekend, we joined D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s in the beautifully decorated JW Marriott to celebrate 125 years of protecting children from abuse and neglect. This year was St. John’s Guild Gala’s 48th year and this year nearly doubled the record breaking total raised last year. In 2011, over $160,000 was raised and this year’s record setting total is over $300,000. Through their work, they have restored childhoods, healed families and have provided hope for thousands of the most vulnerable members of our community.
The residential campus of DABSJ houses children ages 6-18 who have come from a lifetime of abuse and neglect and are now waiting for people to come along who will love them and take them into their family. Until then, they live in homes with kids who are close to them in age. They share the responsibilities in the house with a different chore each week.
The campus of D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s home has a capacity for up to 60 children. Children in the 6-12 year program each have their own rooms and are living in an atmosphere that prepares them for pre-adoptive homes or going back to their rehabilitated family environment. Each week all residents receive individual therapy by therapists specially trained in play therapy and the treatment of reactive attachment disorder.
D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s is committed to protecting children from abuse and neglect and they are always looking for volunteers. No matter what your time availability, skill level, or passion they have over 7,500 children and families that they served last year alone. There are so many ways to help and sometimes, it only takes one person to make a difference in the life of a child.
Mentor a child through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.
You can make a big difference in the life a child for only 45 minutes a week in our School-Based Mentoring program or 1-3 hours a week in our Community-Based Mentoring program. Big Brothers Big Sisters was founded in 1965 as an accredited agency dedicated to protecting children from abuse and neglect. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationally recognized mentoring program that matches kids age 5-17 with an adult mentor. These kids are typically from single-parent homes and may be experiencing some difficulty with school, social skills, and developing interests in life.
Become a foster parent.
One of their greatest, on-going needs is having enough foster parents to provide homes for the children that need our help. As the number of children who come into our care increases, the need for foster parents increases too.
Mentor a young mom through our Sisters In Support Program.
They also have a great way to help pregnant women, first time mothers, and/or mothers of many children in our Sisters-In-Support program. Young mothers in need are matched with female mentors who act as friends and role models to help these moms.
Organize a volunteer work day for a group.
Their residential program is located on a beautiful 25-acre campus, which can always use some extra tender love and care from volunteers willing to weed, plant flowers and greenery, paint the inside and outside of the homes and building, and more.
Join a guild. The Marilyn J. Olson Guild and St. John’s Guild both welcome new members. Involvement with each guild is based on the amount of time and commitment you would like to volunteer.
Visit our campuses with a group or organization. They would love to show you around either or both of our campuses to see how we serve and care for the children in our programs.
Get involved in the Backpack & School Supply Drive. With your help, more than 500 children currently living in residential care, foster homes, shelter care, or whose families’ are in need of assistance will be given a new backpack with school supplies before the first day of school.
Get involved in care bags.
Children entering foster care often arrive with no belongings. D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s tries to give each child a “care bag” containing items they can immediately call their own upon moving into their foster home. We need items for kids ages infant to 17 including toiletries, clothing, toys, and backpacks.
Get involved in Christmas giving.
Every year, D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s relies on the generosity of our community to give Christmas gifts to over 900 children. When you partner with us for Christmas giving, you can choose the age and/or gender of the child. You then get their “Christmas List” with specific requests including sizes, color preferences, and brand names. You can also sponsor one of the houses on St. John’s campus or an entire family.
This is D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s 125th Anniversary year. If you would like to support these kids with your time, talent, or treasure … visit their website at www.dablodgett.org. You can make a huge difference in the life of a child.