We have been working with UMFS, and the children they support for almost 5 years. They have been tremendously supportive to both us and the kids that we have fostered. Working with at risk children takes a special kind of understanding, guidance, and gentle support, and they have all that and more. I don't know how they managed to brinf such a phenominal team together, but they did, and we as the parents, and more importantly, our kids, greatly benefit from everything they do for us.
I have had the privilege of working with UMFS for the past two years. Helping at risk youth with the guidance they provide has been truly one of the most rewarding experiences during my volunteer work.
I recently attended a Commencement Ceremony for several at-risk youth who had completed a life changing program through UMFS, called the Circle of Courage. These children bravely stood in front of hundreds of people in a packed cafeteria and shared their stories of struggle, neglect, abuse, substance addiction, and finally - hope. Most of the children had been a product of the system since they were very young, and began their journey at UMFS with a goal to get out as quickly as possible. Then they started to understand that the social workers, clinicians, therapists, teachers, and all UMFS were different. They worked to give each child a voice. They worked to help each child let go of their anger, pain, and distrust. Every child personally thanked UMFS and its dedicated staff for caring so much about them, and giving them a reason to believe they can be successful in life despite their past challenges. They stood with their new foster families or their re-united biological families as tears streamed down their eyes. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. It was then that I knew that UMFS was truly touching lives, and creating futures.
I have been involved with UMFS for a little over three years and have really enjoyed my experience with them. I have made some life long friendships and have met many children that will forever have an imprint on my heart. As a volunteer I have always felt appreciated and supported in everything I have done and have been encouraged to, at times, step outside my comfort zone to try new relationships and partnerships. The thank yous I receive from the kids is the best part of the experience and I look forward to seeing them every month! Thank you UMFS for making such a wonderful place for volunteers! Sara
From at-risk teens, to youth without permanent homes, to families wanting to care for a child, UMFS is forming lasting connections and making a difference in the lives of youth all over Virginia. As an adoptive parent of a teen through UMFS, I believe that UMFS is reaching and impacting the lives of disenfranchised and at-risk populations of youth more than any other organization in Richmond. I cannot imagine what the life of my 20-year-old daughter would be like if she had not had the opportunity to be adopted at the age of 14 through the work of UMFS. Not only did UMFS facilitate the adoption process, they provided our family with the training, emotional support, and professional services necessary to ensure permanence during the challenging times that seemed insurmountable. I will never forget the day my husband and I called a UMFS staff person feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and ready to give up completely. On that day, UMFS saw us through our toughest hour and provided a solution that we still rely on to this day!
I have been involved with UMFS for over 27 years and have always found my experience to be rewarding, challenging and inspirational. I can't imagine volunteering for an organization that would be more rewarding. I certainly have no complaints or even suggestions for improving volunteer relations.
I've fostered 3 kids through UMFS. The first I adopted, the second returned home and the third will soon be adopted. The first two kids came directly through their treatment foster care program. It was extremely well run and generally staffed with the highest caliber people, although our first in-home counselor didn't seem to add much value. The third kid started in their residential program and transitioned to treatment foster care. This required a level of communication and coordination between different functions within the agency that hadn't been properly thought through. The staff, did, however go to great lengths to make the transition work - up to including having key staff perform multiple duties. This showed a great deal of commitment to meeting the needs of my son. In the residental program, we had some issues with my son's first therapist and I felt they went on a little long, but ultimately they got resolved quite successfully - again, due to the commitment of all the agency staff to make things work right. This is a well run, committed agency that does extremely good work.
My daughter has been at UMFS since December and it has been wonderful for her. She was at a state institution before that and it closed very suddenly. We were lost, with nowhere to go. Luckily, we found UMFS and all of the people there have been great. Very kind, helpful, and understanding. I have not met a person there that wasn't well trained and more than willing to help. I am not sure where my daughter (or the rest of my family) would be without UMFS. Having a genuine school on campus has also been great because my daughter has been able to continue her education.