How it Began
“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.” – Betsy Ruch
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.”
As we randomly dropped in to see our friends Angela and Luis, we were encouraged to see a foster family thriving! They had a community of caring people around them and I wanted to know more.
Angela encouraged me to call Promise 686, the founding ministry who helped bring groups of people around foster families in Georgia.
When I spoke with Andy, President of Promise 686, he challenged me to come to an Advocate Clinic and see what it was all about. When I attended the clinic I was blown away from the excellence and expertise they shared. I left the clinic excited, but broken, with no idea “how” this could possibly work and come to South Carolina.
It was so needed, but the task at hand seemed impossible! We were personally in the middle of looking for a church, we knew no foster families, and we would need a board – we needed all of these if we were going to start something in SC!
My answer to Jesus was, “Yes, Lord“. How in the world it would happen, though, I had no idea!
I drove through Greenville, SC, up Hwy 85 late the following Saturday night after the clinic, crying out to the Lord. My husband and I had been in ministry for years and I knew how difficult ministry could be firsthand. As I cried out to the Lord rather passionately, I said, “If You want this to happen, make it happen. I need a home church, foster families, and people to be on our board.”
The next morning, we had no intentions of going to the church we did, but our good friend Matt was getting baptized and asked us to come and see him, so we did! This one service changed the trajectory of my life and that of our families as well as what then ensued to become Fostering the Family!
During the service, the speaker asked that we find someone to pray with us. Our daughter, Mollie, prayed with a young dad whose prayer request was, “Would you pray for me to be a good dad to my two little foster boys?” Mollie then told him about her mom starting a ministry to help foster families. Christoph then came running across the auditorium and said, “Hey, are you starting a foster ministry? We could use one! And can you come to our foster and adoptive small group? We meet tonight.”
What? You’re kidding, right? – I thought. That night, we met a core group of families in the community with at least two of them needing help.
What evolved was 1.) We found a home church for our family. 2.) We found foster families 3.) We found our first board member, Tim Matazek. ALL IN ONE DAY!
A few months later we shared with the campus pastor about the need for Care Communities to wrap around foster, adoptive, and kinship families and he was on board! He had seen the need of these families who were crying out for some type of help, and here we were! We hosted an Awareness Event at this small church plant and ended up launching two Care Communities with 12-14 volunteers serving these two families. We were still not a nonprofit at this point, just two ladies with a passion to make a difference in vulnerable children’s lives.
In January 2018, we applied for a 501c3 and received our official acceptance in March of 2018. Then with just an ounce of faith, no money, but a whole lot of passion for families and children, Betsy Ruch and I officially launched Fostering the Family.
Weeks later “that church”, our home church, blessed us with the most incredible gift imaginable. A check for $10,000 to help begin this ministry. We will be forever grateful for NewSpring Church!
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