Foster Love Bell County is a local organization that seeks to serve the needs of foster children in the Bell County area, whether it is physical needs, emotional needs, or just showing them love and kindness. It is situated on Main Street in Belton near the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, and it is a beacon of light and hope to children who have experienced trauma in the foster care system. Executive director Katie McRae came to the organization last year with a Bachelors of Science degree in Christian Leadership and an emphasis on non-profit work. She was not sure what direction she should take with that degree, but when Foster Love came calling, she knew it was exactly where she wanted to be. Her friend and founder of Foster Love, Candace Cartwright, asked her to come on board the Foster Love team.
Ms. McRae remarked that she never knew how much trauma foster children have experienced in the system, and that none of these hurts can be solved with a quick fix. The trauma they experience often has lifelong consequences that require love and patience from the caregivers. She emphatically said, “I connect my work with serving the needs of the church…serving God. I pray every day that he will continue to break my heart for the children we serve. I do not want my work to become just part of ‘the system.’ It can be really hard to see what kids go through. Seeing bruises, hunger, and trauma can be pretty normal for us at the Foster Love house.”
She described that working in the system can be challenging because placements can be hard to find, and outcomes are not always what they hope for the children. However, she added that God continually makes ways for the staff and board members to serve the kids in the community, and she is also overwhelmed at how the community has come together in so many ways to help these kids in need.
She credits her own personal faith in God and her prior education and work experience for helping her build a team spirit among her staff and volunteers. She knows that everyone involved in Foster Love wants to make a difference in the lives of these children.
They have several ways the community can assist the organization including donating to the Love Closet, which includes clothing and other essential items in what is called a Love Bag. They also have a “Celebration Box” that goes out for every foster kid’s birthday and brings a smile to their face. Christmas in July is another way to help Foster Love with needs of the children. Each year, local businesses and churches in Bell County put up a Christmas tree in their building that FLBC outs there with little ornaments. The ornaments can be scanned to make an online donation or they can be mailed to the house. These funds help keep clothing, supplies, and gift cards available, and every donation made is greatly appreciated because it makes such a difference in the lives of the children.
FLBC recently got a visit from First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott and state representative Hugh Shine’s wife, Debbie, who got a tour of the facility and saw the important work being done by the staff there. These important ladies in our state were truly impressed by what they saw, and they want to bring awareness to the community so that people can get more involved in helping these children. The work they do is invaluable to so many sweet kids who have been put in unfortunate situations and just need a little bit of love and hopefully a new family to call their own.
Anyone who wishes to help can find information on the website, fosterlovebellcounty.org, or the Facebook page. Donations can be made over the phone, through the website or in person at 1003 N Main Street in Belton.
By ELIZABETH FINKENBINDER/Belton Journal