Pediatric Hair Solutions’ Community Outreach: Meet Foster Village Charlotte
“Overall my foster experience was joyous, but also isolating an extremely difficult” – Molly Zalewski, Co-Founder, Foster Village
On a hot summer day in June 2016, Molly Zalewski, a foster parent at the time, sat on a bench at a park in Charlotte with a poster that read “Foster/Adopt/Parenting Support Group.” As a new foster parent, she was desperate for support, help, and connection with other foster families. That day, six people joined her, and, knowing that there were sure to be other families in similar situations, they started a Facebook group. Within a year, the group reached 1000 members.
The group quickly realized that the need for this type of organization was strong, so in 2018, Molly and three other foster mothers started Foster Village Charlotte, a non-profit that connects, equips, and advocates for local foster families. The organization strives to fill in the gaps that government agencies don’t have the time or resources to fill – like navigating the world of Medicaid and social work, equipping families with the basic essentials for new foster children, and connecting families that so often feel isolated.
Since lice is often a concern for families accepting new foster children, Pediatric Hair Solutions created an ongoing partnership with Foster Village to offer free boxes of our treatment solution along with a discounted rate for treatment for Foster Village families. This is so important for foster families – it gives them 3-4 days to get treatment and protects their families from getting lice.
We recently chatted with Molly to find out more about Foster Village’s services and what needs they have this holiday season. We hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as we have – they’re an incredible organization doing great things in our community. We are so proud to offer our products and services to these families!
An interview with Molly Zalewski, Co-Founder, Foster Village
Tell us about Foster Village – what is its mission and who does it serve?
The mission of Foster Village Charlotte is to create a village of support for our local children in foster care and those caring for them by meeting urgent needs, providing support and advocating for lasting change in our child welfare system.
How did it start and how did you get involved?
We started in 2016 as a group of foster parents looking for connection. It’s hard to believe, but there was no support group in existence anywhere near Charlotte at the time! As we met more and more foster parents, a pattern emerged – many of us were feeling isolated, under-resourced, and overwhelmed as foster parents. In April 2018, four of us emerged as leaders and officially become a non-profit.
What aspect of Foster Village’s work makes you the proudest?
I am most proud of Foster Village when we host our Quarterly Family Events. These often attract 50-70 families and are often at a farm, a park, or some other public venue. I like to sit back and watch foster families meet with each other and see all the kids play. I only fostered for two years. Meeting and talking to foster families who are doing such a selfless act over and over is inspiring and uplifting. I look at them all with such pride and joy– they are my heroes!
What is something you wish other Charlotteans knew about foster care?
There are 600 kids in Mecklenburg County who are in the foster care system. I hope Charlotteans see these kids as our collective children. Our government does a good job…but kids need us — loving adults who care. I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a foster parent — but everyone can lend a hand. Awareness is a big step!
What is the best resource for someone looking to become a foster parent?
We recommend researching foster care agencies (16 in Charlotte) and attending their info sessions. As this choice alone is often very overwhelming, many prospective foster families volunteer with us to get opportunities to meet and talk with current foster families. This is a great way to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly of fostering! Plus, you will get a better understanding of an agency you may work well with. You can sign up to volunteer here.
As the holidays quickly approach and people are looking to give back, does Foster Village have any immediate needs for the upcoming year?
Our organization is completely funded by individual donors and grants. Our goal is to meet the many emergency needs that come our way quickly and efficiently and then sustain a foster family throughout their journey with emotional support through training, support groups, and classes. Visit HERE to make an online donation or to become a Monthly Partner.
Our Amazon Wish List:
We are often asked if we accept gently used items. We created a community Facebook group for non-foster families and fostering families called Foster Village Charlotte Swap where folks can post items to donate to members of our fostering network. This way it will go directly to a foster family!
Where can we get more information on Foster Village?