There is a saying that there are some who make things happen, some who watch things happen, and the others who wonder what happened. It is the hope in this Year of the Volunteer; we can see more folks move into that first category.
Jennifer Lake, executive direction and founder of Dwell Foster Care, is definitely one who makes things happen. Growing up through a great deal of trauma in a home full of domestic violence, Jennifer found mentors who came along at a very pivotal point in her life. They changed her life’s trajectory — and now she wants to do the same for others.
After years of hard work and preparation, Dwell Orphan Care was formed on January 5, 2019. Though “orphan” is in the name, it was founded as a non-profit organization, which exists to support foster and adoptive families in Lycoming County and beyond so that children would have a safe, loving, forever home in which to dwell.
Jennifer Lake and her husband, Matt, are embodiments of those ideals. They are passionate champions of adoption and foster care through their own example of fostering and adoption as well as the work of Dwell. What is unique about this organization is that it addresses both sides of the adoption/foster process. Getting the child in a good home is the first part, but helping support that family afterward is an area that is sadly neglected. As Jennifer states, “Dwell was created to fill that gap.”
The organization has a very ambitious and creative way that volunteers can get involved. They have set up care groups for foster and adoptive moms with a group for dads being developed. They offer birthday boxes for the children and care packages that promote family togetherness and give a break to the parents from time to time.
It cannot be emphasized enough how important this support is to adoptive/foster parents, because the sad reality is those in the “system” often come from disturbing and traumatizing situations. One of the reasons Jennifer Lake wanted to start Dwell was because of the high number of parents who ‘returned’ their child after 30-days. They felt inadequate to the challenges they had to face.
This is why Dwell is such a valuable resource to our community. They sponsor community trauma-informed trainings and have goals of creating a Family Advocacy Ministry for churches to better support foster and adoptive families. They also provide adoption scholarships. Jennifer beamed as she displayed a picture of a local family that adopted a Down Syndrome child from China. Dwell helped make that happen.
The general public can help, as well. Like all non-profits that this column is emphasizing in this Year of the Volunteer, they need enterprising helpers, generous givers, and prayerful friends. Jennifer Lake’s passion is repeated often, “every child deserves a place to dwell.” And not just any place, but a dwelling place that is safe, secure, and loving. All of us can help make that dream come true. [For more information about Dwell, check out their website: dwellorphancare.org.
Larry Stout welcomes your comments or input. He can be reached by email: email@example.com.