Let's Turn Michigan Purple for Foster Care Awareness Month
May is foster care awareness month and for the second year in a row, Samaritas is “painting the town purple” in honor of this special month. In addition to focusing media relations efforts and advertising messaging on this month, Samaritas foster parent recruiters will be using stickers, spray chalk and lawn signs to get the word out about how it “takes a purple village” to make sure foster kids get the safe, loving home they deserve and the support they need to be successful in school, with relationships and in life.
“It’s so important for foster kids to have the support they need. Being removed from their home because of neglect or abuse is a traumatic situation, and even though so many of these children are incredibly resilient, it means a lot when they know they have a community of caring people who want to help them,” said Angie Henry, who oversees the foster care licensing workers for Samaritas.
Billboards in West Michigan will feature foster month awareness messages throughout May. The Samaritas staff, board members and foundation trustees also support the month with their personal posts on social media, and word of mouth to family and friends.
There are many ways to get involved and raise awareness. Here are just a few:
Raise Public Awareness * Distribute information about foster care needs in your community * Send compelling foster care stories to newsletters, advocacy groups, bulletin boards, parent/teacher organizations, community centers, web sites and special interest groups * Distribute information on ways members of your community can make a difference in the lives of young people in foster care, such as becoming a mentor, sponsoring a foster child for Christmas * Write, Visit, Fax, Phone or E-mail your Elected Officials * Request that your governor, state legislators and mayor proclaim May 7 as Foster Care Awareness Day * Send personalized letters to your elected officials with information about the foster care stats in your own community * Notify your U.S. and state Representatives and Senators about activities
Engage Your Community • Write a letter to the newspaper editor and encourage others to do so * Meet with reporters and the editorial board of your newspaper and urge them to write positive stories about foster parents, recognizing the need for more foster parents and highlighting activities built around Foster Care Month (May) and May 7th being Michigan Foster Care Awareness Day * Educate them about the challenges facing youth “aging out” of care * Recruit members of your organization, church, workplace, neighborhood or community center to volunteer to support foster families or to become foster parents * Organize an event such as a dinner, coffee gathering, picnic, and invite foster families, community activists, elected officials and your friends * Encourage them to hold their own events
Tap into Local Businesses * Request the assistance of your religious and business leaders in building Foster Care awareness in the community * Request that your local grocery stores print foster care messages on their bags * Ask business owners to light up their business with purple lights on May 7th (and all month, if they will do that, as well) * Create a display in their shop that spotlights foster families * Offer special discounts or gifts to customers who are identified as foster families * Ask local restaurants to sponsor a meal, party or celebration for foster families in the community * Ask them to include an article in their company newsletter encouraging employees to find out how they can become involved in the lives of children and young people in foster care
Make it Personal * Share your thoughts and support for foster care on your social media sites * Use the hastags #ItTakesAPurpleVillage and #SamaritasFosters to show your support * Sponsor a scholarship for a young person who is making the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency * Wear purple on May 7th and tell people why * Shine a purple porchlight during May * Tie a purple ribbon around a tree in your front yard * Consider becoming a foster parent.