Carla Trier Brings Heaps of Love to Sheridan, Wyoming by Way of the Foster Parent Exchange

Carla Trier, founder and Executive Director of Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange.

Carla Trier has a radio voice, and you want to listen when she speaks.

It’s sultry and earnest and sparkles when she talks about the nine children she has fostered/mentored as a single parent.

Her first foster daughter was seven years old when she arrived on New Years Eve 2012.

“She came only with a sack of things,” Carla said.

“She was sobbing, and I made a pretty fast decision that this wasn’t the way things should work.” she said.

That clarity lead to the Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange.

Carla said, “Children are removed from parents quickly, and that usually meant stuffing a few things into a trash bag as they are taken from the parents.”

But awareness is changing, and evidence of that are duffle bags often replacing plastic bags when children are picked up.

“That makes the little ones’ self images a lot different than arriving at a new home with a garbage bag,” she said.

Carla was a foster child, but unlike most children she encounters, she was sent with a suitcase and a teddy bear under her arm.

Change is also seen in Sheridan in the form of both children and the foster parents receiving help faster.

Children immediately receive 7 days worth of clothes, hygiene kits, towels, handmade quilts, coats, shoes, socks and underwear, pajamas, books, and stuffed toys.

Yet it’s not about handing a child a bag.

“Sometimes they’ve never had things that are their own, and we don’t ask for anything back,” Carla said.

As well, foster parents, grandparents, and biological parents reuniting with their families are all supported by this 501(c)3 nonprofit.

What Carla Would Like You to Know

“People say foster care is something they could never do.” Carla said.

“They’re afraid they’ll get attached to a kid and then they’ll leave”

Carla and her first foster daughter. The following year Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange was created.

To Carla, though, if you don’t give it your all, you’re not serving yourself or the child.

“The love they know when they are with you may be the only time they experience that in their lives.

“That might be the only place they have to go back to in their minds.”

“Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.”
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

“It’s not always been easy with my kids,” Carla said.

Yet her support is unwavering.

“The love they know when they are with you may be the only time they experience that in their lives. That might be the only place they have to go back to in their minds.”

“I tell all my kids, I am not going to give up.

“I say, ‘Hey, I love you.
‘Hey, you matter.
‘Hey, you made my day special.
‘My day is always better with you in it.'”

“Those are things they may not hear in their lives,” she said.

“I just keep showing up.”

Take Action!

Donate to the Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange.

Watch a 90-second video on Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange narrated by Carla Trier.

•  Learn about a similar organization in Laramie, Wyoming

•  Watch the feature film, “Instant Family,” based on director Sean Anders’ own experience adopting his three foster children. From the movie’s website learn more about fostering and adoption, and volunteering with the foster care system as a tutor, mentor, and more.

•  Read about other organizations doing great work in Wyoming:
Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care Sees Far Beyond Medical Needs
–  Climb Wyoming Breaking Multi-Generational Single Mom Cycle of Poverty

•  Listen to Josh Shipp, a former foster child, talk about The Power of One Caring Adult

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. Her website is EllenSynakowski.com. She is a Registered Craniosacral Therapist (RCST), is on the Board of Directors of the Biodynamic Craniosacral Association of North America (BCTA/NA), and is a practitioner of both HeartMath and The Connection Practice.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West

 

[Comment] No Duality — Both Charity and Justice are Ways to Follow the Light

[This comment about duality refers to the June 18, 2018 post, Charity and Social Justice: “Distinct but Complementary”.]

by Barbara Cornell

Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching in Selma in 1965 with Dr. Martin Luther King.

I love the clarity, immediacy and honesty of the latest blog post.

You invite us to join you in an important struggle — to determine for ourselves what it takes to live on the right side of history.

You set out creating a non-partisan space for social justice, and I think that question, that struggle, is really what motivates both sides, for better or for worse.

Yet the bit of Buddhist in me squirms at the duality of the debate between justice and charity.

It seems to me that social justice warriors are trying to shock people out of their complacency so that we, as a society, can do the heavy lifting needed to bend the arc.

But there is a smugness to the assertion that meeting immediate needs is “comfortable.”

It is not comfortable for me to drag myself at the end of a long day to pack books for prisoners.

It is not comfortable to learn that the person asking for the books I love has brutally murdered his wife and children.

To argue that charity is an exercise in feeling good
while social justice is the real deal is like saying
my hand is worthless because it is not my foot.

It is not comfortable to send endless emails to arrange for the never-ending list of needs our organization has (money, transportation, storage, etc.).

It is not comfortable to be busy-up-to-here but take on one more task because the kids of an incarcerated person might be better for it.

To argue that charity is an exercise in feeling good while social justice is the real deal is like saying my hand is worthless because it is not my foot.

. . . even for social justice movements,
maybe especially for social justice movements,
money is mission.

There is no duality here. Both are a way to follow the light.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great figures in social justice, said that you do not need to go looking for God, because God is looking for you.

God can’t bring about His creation without your willingness to work for it.

Where do any social justice organizers worth their salt turn when they need to build an advocacy community?

They turn to the front-line workers and volunteers who grapple with the problem — the comfortable “charity” crowd, in your line of argument.

And why does that community respond?

Because it is impossible to stand on the front lines and not see the larger social forces at work.

Even people who just write checks and party at galas have their role.

Why?

Because even for social justice movements, maybe especially for social justice movements, money is mission.

•    •    •

Barbara Cornell
Barbara Cornell, author of this post, is a wise friend, student of wonder, and long-time volunteer at DC Books to Prisons. (photo taken at the Wonder Exhibit at the Renwick Museum  in Washington, DC)

“To be or not to be is not the question.
The vital question is how to be and how
not to be . . .”   — Abraham Joshua Heschel

 

 

 

Take Action!

•   Listen to The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel, On Being, 12/6/12.

•  Check out the organization Barbara Cornell volunteers with,  DC Books to Prisons

• Watch PBS episode on Religion and Ethics about Rabbi Heschel and his walk in Selma; an excerpt from the forthcoming documentary called, “Praying With My Legs,”.