Portland, OR. Boys & Girls Aid (B&G Aid) has been helping struggling youth find foster families and support for over 135 years. According to CEO Suzan Huntington, foster parents have stepped during the pandemic more than ever. B&G Aid’s day programs are temporarily closed for public health concerns. Without the day program and without school, parents have their foster kids 24/7. But they are taking extra responsibility in stride.
“I can’t say enough about how grateful I am to their generosity of continuing to open their homes and hearts,” Huntington said. “These kids have had abuse and neglect since they were born, and that does something to our brains, and it’s hard. And not one foster parent said I won’t do that. Not one.”
Caring for the kids full time is extra work for foster families, but they say their kids are actually helping them to weather this tough time. “Foster children were born to live through a pandemic … I never thought about it like that until one of the foster parents said that these kids are actually helping us because they are used to total uncertainty and chaos,” Huntington said. “It isn’t a place where anyone thrives, but they have the skill set.”
Although the current COVID-19 situation challenging, this isn’t the first time the organization has had to face a flu pandemic.
Boys & Girls Aid has faced many challenges of its 135 years.
The Boys & Girls Aid day program is reopening because many foster parents are returning to work. Residential programs continue to be open as well. B&G Aid is proud to say it hasn’t had to lay off or furlough any of its staff during the lockdown, even though it has lost significant revenue from seven major fundraisers that were canceled.
“It is because our staff are diligent and committed to the work and the kids that we serve,” Huntington said. “Our foster parents are angels walking this earth, as are foster parents across the nation. We’re not gonna come through totally unscathed, but we’ve been able to keep everyone employed during the height of absolute chaos.”
The staff has been working hard to keep programs operating amidst limited funding.
Kids leave B & G Aid with the support they need to exit the foster care system.
In the last 7 years, B&G Aid has been relying on a trauma-informed care model, which sets it apart from other similar organizations. Huntington said this switch made the organization’s work and her job much more meaningful.
“Before [switching to this care model], we were a stop along the way. Now, we’re really meeting the kids where they’re at,” Huntington said. “We’re really diving deep into mental health, we’re making sure they have those lifelong connections, and really starting to see the trajectory of those relationships change with kids and how their growth is.”
Alongside coordination with foster families and guardians, B&G Aid works in family counseling to rebuild broken relationships to the best outcome for each client. Furthermore, they connect kids with stable figures, like an uncle or a teacher, to act as a point of guidance and support.
B&G Aid works to get kids into stable guardianships and loving homes.
“Kids do better when they have someone in their corner,” Huntington said. “We all do better when someone’s got our back.”
Huntington said she would like to see B&G Aid as a more visible part of the community. Historically, the stigma around adoption has limited the publicity for this long-standing organization.
“I would like to see in the future that Boys & Girls Aid is a more prominent figure in the community,” she said. “We could be a tremendous resource to a lot of community organizations.”
From Boys & Girls Aid:
Boys & Girls Aid is committed to ensuring children exit the foster care system to loving, stable families.
Portland, September 10th, 2015. If you couldn’t join the thousands who flocked to Pioneer Courthouse Square for The Standard’s Annual Volunteer Expo, you’re in luck. We’ve got all the information and website links to explore over 125 local nonprofits that could use your time.
A full list of links of nonprofits is at the bottom of our story.
R. Richard Crockett, (left) is the Program Operations Director & Volunteer Coordinator at Chess for Success.
Classroom Law Project is a non-profit organization of individuals, educators, lawyers, and civic leaders building strong communities by teaching students to become active citizens.
The Standard’s Volunteer Expo has repeat participants year after year, here’s a look at some nonprofits which continue to recruit volunteers:
Jenny Bedell-Stiles and Andy Meeks from Friends of Trees
talks with Casey Rhodes and Clark Hays.
Jenny Chu from Literary Arts
New Avenues For Youth volunteers are a hit every year because they dish out the free Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream!
Rachel Randles from Oregon Historical Society
The Volunteers of America recruited some new volunteers!
Special Olympics Oregon has room for coaches and event volunteers.
Newspace Center for Photography promoted its multidimensional photography resource center and community hub for students, working artists, professional photographers, educators, and photo-enthusiasts of all types.
Latino Network’s Edgar Ortega
Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Area had a colorful display.
The Work for Art’s Community Fund and Arts Education Fund support more than 80 arts and culture organizations every year—encompassing dance, visual arts, music, literary arts, media arts, theater, cultural arts, and arts education.
IMPACT NW drew prospective volunteers who learned that each year over 60,000 low-income children, youth, families, seniors, and adults with disabilities participate in Impact NW’s comprehensive anti-poverty programs.
The YMCA was handing out information about programs.
People who stopped by The Q Center booth were met with a friendly smile.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oregon Chapter staffers promoted their many volunteer options.
Reps from the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon explained their work on behalf of local cats and kittens.
American Red Cross volunteer recruiters had the trademark red vests!
The mission of the Make-A-Wish Oreogn Foundation® is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
Northwest Pilot Project began in 1969 as an all volunteer agency to provide basic supports for seniors at risk of losing their ability to live independently.
Miracle Theatre Group is The Northwest’s premiere Latino arts and culture organization.
Camp Fire offers opportunities for volunteers who like to work with kids.
Bridge Meadows is a multi-generation housing community serving Oregon’s vulnerable populations; foster youth, adoptive parents and elders (55+).
Here’s a list of links to charities at the The Standard’s Volunteer Expo. Please consider donating your time, and tell them PortlandSocietyPage.com sent you!
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