Fun, games, and ... slime!
I originally wrote this article to be published on the intranet for Capital Group, the mutual fund company where I work. It moved me to see my husband Elijah putting his whole heart into playing with the children. It makes me dream about the day when he will be a dad and we will have our own adopted foster children to care for and raise in our Christ-honoring home.
It’s unthinkable that an adult would abuse or abandon an innocent child. Unfortunately, this is a startling reality for the nearly 443,000 children who are in the U.S. foster care system.
But there’s hope. Kind-hearted adults become foster parents and open their doors to these children. Capital Group Christian Life groups in Southern California also joined in the effort over two evenings of fun, games and … slime! The community partnered with Olive Crest, a Southern California-based organization committed to the healing power of family.
The agenda was to spend time with the children, who range in age from 2 to 12, while their foster parents were in support meetings. The playtime involved balloons, blowing bubbles, relay races and making “slime”… a cornstarch concoction with a hefty dose of glitter.
Although some of the children were initially shy, they opened up quickly when the games came out. “It still amazes me how children can go from not knowing someone to being best buddies with them within hours,” observes Solutions Engineer Regina Holman.
The children were filled with energy, and the volunteers found their excitement contagious. “I was bouncing off the walls along with the kids,” laughs Manny Alvarez, a Results Analyst. “It brought back memories of my childhood and how I was probably bouncing off the walls at one point and someone had to look after me!”
A couple of the girls, avid gymnasts, showed off their acrobatic skills. Attendees enjoyed lively conversation about other sports as well. “As a grandma of two (and one on the way), I love children!” exclaims Administrative Coordinator Lisa Hall. That experience came in handy. “I bonded with one of the little boys who’s 7 years old, the same age as my grandson. We talked a lot about baseball and flag football.”
“I was bouncing off the walls!”
The children were playful and enjoyed joking around. Chidell Watkins, a Senior Client Services Specialist, recalls one girl in particular. “We connected in such a way — it pulled on my heartstrings,” she reminisces. “She’s what some would call ‘short.’ I let her know she’s not ‘short,’ but ‘fun size’ — like a candy bar. That made her laugh.”
The Olive Crest staff and volunteers are devoted to creating a welcoming and caring environment. “One of the staff members exhibited such skill when one of the boys wasn’t getting along with his sister,” Manny recalls. “The leader was able to make a connection in a firm yet gentle way. Soon enough, the little boy was once again playing with his sister and others. It was amazing!”
Despite the difficult situations that some of the foster children face behind the scenes, “they were happy, delightful and well-mannered,” Lisa praises. She especially enjoyed serving them dinner. “They were so adorable saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”
When the foster parents arrived at the end of the evening, their children ran to them with open arms. “It’s clear that these children are loved by those who care for them,” Chidell smiles.
Though child neglect is a sobering topic, these CG volunteers and the Olive Crest team refuse to stand idly by. “I get joy out of my small part of making sure the children are able to learn, grow and flourish,” Regina says.