by Alicia Butler, Chapter Director of Safe Families Wichita Chapter
The Safe Families for Children chapter in Wichita celebrated its second anniversary in March. In 2020, interest in starting a SF chapter began to grow when the Fullbright family, who had been volunteers with Safe Families in Canada got a job transfer to Wichita. The Fullbrights were eager to continue the volunteer movement in Wichita, so they hosted home gathering and interest meetings and recruited their neighbors, the Fishers, to be a host family. There was continued interest in the Safe Families movement within the community and word started to get out.
In March 2021, “Jackie” called our intake line asking us to host her almost one-year old son for a week. Jackie was nine months pregnant and had been put on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. With spring break approaching, her regular daycare would be closed for the week, and being on bed rest, she could not take care of her son and had nowhere to turn to for support or assistance. She had actually heard about Safe Families from someone in another state and she looked us up and called our statewide intake line asking for help.
The Fisher family agreed to host her son, and the first official hosting in Wichita took place in March 2021. The Fisher and Fullbright families surrounded Jackie and stayed connected with her for the weeks leading up to her giving birth and for a few weeks after she delivered the baby – even stocking her refrigerator with food.
Jackie shared about her experience with Safe Families.
“In 2021 I found myself in one of the most impossible situations a person could be in – I was pregnant and having complications to the point I wouldn’t be able to physically care for my son. I started looking online at potential resolutions and ways I could help my son and myself get through this time. I found safe families and reached out to an intake coordinator. It was a super easy process and they were able to match us with a family the next day. They were compassionate and caring and did not judge me cause this process was already painful for me cause I would have to be away from my son. My safe family came to my apartment and met me and I was able to give them some helpful items to make sure they had what they needed for my son’s stay. They asked me questions about my son and took general interest in his care and getting to know me. My family sent me multiple pictures and updates. Some of the pictures I still have hung in my house today. They even helped me plan my son’s first birthday party and threw it at their house and allowed me and my friend to come over and throw the best first birthday ever. My safe family’s mother was there for my son’s surgery and even took over when the process was just too stressful for my health and I needed a break because of my health issues, she was there the whole time one stand by in case I needed her. I will never forget that. I will never forget after getting released from the hospital that Safe Families and my family came to my apartment to check on me and brought me a gift. Safe Families ensured I was safe when I was having issues after my birth, and they were very concerned about me, and I could really feel that she cared. I am super thankful for them and will recommended them to mothers in my same situation.”
And then with time, we lost connection with Jackie. But much to our surprise, Jackie reached back out to us in January 2023 to refer an acquaintance that needed assistance in a touch circumstance because “Safe Families had been there for her!” She gave us a quick update telling us how well she was doing and sent pictures of her family. It was such a blessing to hear from Jackie and even a bigger blessing that she trusted us enough to share her experience with someone else.
At Safe Families, we are in the business of building extended family-like relationships so we can form long-lasting support networks for families facing crisis. We feel honored that our first hosting led to another referral, and we continue to walk alongside of parents offering friendship, encouragement, and support know that supported parents help children thrive!