In 2013, Betsy Ruch and Kim Trainer were living in completely different worlds. All that changed one day when they met at a community picnic in their neighborhood. Betsy felt an instant connection and thought it was so neat to meet people with a similar heart for living out their faith.
Over the course of the next year, Betsy and Kim continued to talk and inspire one another in their desire to make a difference in people’s lives. This culminated in a decision to launch their first nonprofit together. Their mission was to help financially struggling families who were on the verge of needing government assistance. While they were able to make a real difference for a few families, it became apparent that their ministry model wasn’t working. Lots of people benefitted from short term help, but too many families couldn’t make a commitment to long term change.
Both Betsy and Kim realized it was time to pivot their focus, so they sought council from family, friends, and mentors. Everyone’s insight seemed to boil down to one conclusion – no one in their local community was more underreached than foster parents and children.
During this time of redirecting, Betsy started fostering. She had such high expectations for herself as a foster parent, but it was difficult and exhausting. As time went on, her job began to make more demands from her than she could continue to balance with fostering, and Betsy was forced to terminate her license.
Shortly after Betsy stepped down from fostering, Kim and her husband Tony made a spontaneous visit to a long time friend’s house while on a trip to Georgia. Their friend, Angela, had been part of the youth group Tony had pastored years before, and now her family was fostering.
Over the next several hours, Angela shared how incredible her fostering experience had been – that they had meekly meals delivered, a monthly date night babysitter, respite care lined up if they needed to go out of town, and emotional support during the toughest parts of fostering.
Kim was blown away. This sounded like quite the opposite of Betsy’s experience as a foster parent. When Kim asked how they had such a strong support system, Angela shared that their family was being served by a Care Community part of the Promise 686 Ministry in Atlanta, Georgia.
Between Angela’s testimony and learning that 50% of foster families quit after the first year but 90% continue on when they’re being served by a Care Community – Kim realized what a game changer the Care Community system could be for foster families in their area.
After speaking with Promise 686, she and Betsy decided to take the next step and each attended an advocate clinic. Promise 686 gave them the tools and support system they needed to create their own affiliate nonprofit in South Carolina, and so Fostering the Family was born.
Though starting a non profit from the ground up has not been easy, Fostering the Family has continued to persevere through various trials, including surviving an international pandemic as a small nonprofit. As with anything of value – such as marriage, raising children, remaining steadfast in our call and mission is much the same. And just when you begin to wonder if you’re on the right track- God shows you to bring one more confirmation. To keep on and not to give up is where HE CAN use anyone – He has called us to this place to dispel darkness, take back enemy ground and see the next generation rise up to be “Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His Splendor.” And we get to be a part of His grander plan by igniting churches and communities to care for vulnerable children.
Betsy believes the best decision Fostering the Family ever made was prioritzing group prayer to help resolve the sharp differences among its leadership and board members. Most nonprofits fold from the inside out, but a focus on prayer and alignment on core values has helped Fostering the Family avoid this pitfall and grow stronger together instead.
In the end, Betsy’s passion remains in spreading the word about the foster care crisis to pastors and churches. It brings her great joy to disciple both these pastors and their staff as they launch and grow their own Family Advocacy Ministries. Her goal is to raise awareness at all costs, because after all, everyone is responsible for what they know. Once a person knows about the foster care crisis, they can never unsee or unhear what they have learned, and thus take on the responsibility to do something about it.
Though Betsy has now passed the torch on to other leadership members, her words still aptly describe the ministry today. “To be totally sold out on the mission can give you a boldness you didn’t know you were capable of, and that’s what has and will continue to propel Fostering the Family forward.”