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It’s All for the Babies at Lions Club Angels Foster Care Dinner

Orcutt Pioneer | December 21, 2011
by Rebecca Ross Klosinski

The Lions are an “international network of 1.3 million men and women in 205 countries and geographic areas who work together to answer the needs that challenge communities around the world.”

The Orcutt Lions Club answers many needs in our community including hosting a student speaking scholarship contest, organizing the Orcutt Christmas Parade, and supporting Kids Day in the Park, the Orcutt Community Choir, Tsunami and Tornado Relief Funds and Meals on Wheels.

Four years ago the Orcutt Lions were visited by Meichelle Arntz, founder of Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, which sparked an instant relationship between the two and added one more worthy organization to their list.

“If you listen to Meichelle’s story,” said Lion Lydia Magdaleno at a special presentation dinner for Angels Foster Care on December 7th, “you’ll know why we are so passionate about her program.”

Meichelle’s story starts long before Angels, when she worked as a CASA volunteer. During that time, she was assigned to brothers who were moved seven times within one year. When the boys weren’t in foster homes they were in a shelter, where she would visit with them and get them ready for bed whenever she could.

“They weren’t getting the holding that they needed,” she shared, “By the end of the year they were showing signs of attachment disorder. It’s an important skill to be able to bond and attach and we have a huge problem with this here in Santa Barbara County.”

Meichelle decided that something had to be done and went to visit the Angels Foster Family Network of San Diego. She thought their business model was just what was needed here and founded Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara in 2006.

“We’re all privately funded,” said Meichelle. We get no federal or state funding. We basically started with no money and no resources.”

She came to the Orcutt Lions to ask them if they would spread the word because they were always in need of foster families.”

“They said, ‘We can spread the word for you, but we’re concerned your families might not have what they need and we want to help you with that.”

And that marked the birth of the ‘Let’s Get Me Home’ kit. Meichelle explained that families often have very little notice that they will be receiving a foster baby and never know if it will be a boy or a girl or what age it will be.

The kits, which include car seats, bottles, blankets, clothes, diapers, and formula, allow families to enjoy the first few days with their new baby and focus on bonding and adjusting without having to worry about gathering necessities.

During this month’s special dinner, the Orcutt Lions Clubhouse was filled with tables that were piled high with supplies for Angels Foster Care.

“It seems too simple to just say thank you.” Meichelle told the Lions, “But thank you.”

In addition to receiving mountains of colorful baby supplies, Angels Foster Care also had another reason to celebrate.

“We just placed our one hundredth baby, “Meichelle proudly shared.

And, in fact, one hundred and two babies have now been placed in loving homes throughout Santa Barbara County.

“Our babies don’t get moved,” she explained. “They are placed in one stable family. And families can only have one baby or sibling set at a time.”

Parents go through extensive training and education before they are able to welcome a little one into their home. Sixty-five percent of infants and toddlers placed by Angels Foster Care end up being adopted by their foster parents and another twenty percent are able to be placed back with their families. For Meichelle and her team of dedicated individuals that spells success because they have been able to give an otherwise neglected child a chance to live a happy and healthy life where they are loved and cared for.

To find out more about Angels Foster Care, visit www.angelssb.com.



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