18 May Round of Applause-Jo Leaton
This month we would like to introduce you to Jo Leaton, Safe Family Ministry Lead at Northwood Christian Church.
Why did you choose Safe Families?
I found out about Safe Families when my husband and I were looking into foster care. After going to a few meetings and finding out more about the program, I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of. I liked the idea of it being a volunteer program, meaning that the people who were hosting the kids and working with these families were doing it because they actually wanted to help people, not just for a cash incentive.
What do you wish other people knew about Safe Families?
I wish people knew that Safe Families isn’t just another form of foster care; this program doesn’t just keep the kid safe; we surround the family in crisis with love and support, something they might not have ever had before. It’s an amazing opportunity for people out in the community to be shown a very real picture of the love of God – sometimes for the first time in their life.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with Safe Families?
I would tell them that it’s not a decision that they should make lightly. Being a host parent, a family coach, or even a resource friend takes a lot of dedication. Ask questions, assess your own family’s capabilities, and PRAY A LOT before committing. However, if you feel that God has laid this work on your heart, I would tell you that it is one of the most rewarding things that you will ever do! You will see miracles happen, you will see whole families changed by the love of God, and you will see your own family grow in ways you never imagined possible.
What is it like to be a Safe Family Ministry Lead? How many hours per week does it take to be a Ministry Lead?
Being a Ministry Lead is a fun challenge! When we have an active hosting in the church, my task is to build a team of people who can help and support the family in crisis, and then build a team that can help and support these people. It’s kind of like a puzzle; I try to find the right people to fit into each specific need. When we don’t have an active hosting going on, I spend my time recruiting new volunteers and setting up meetings and trainings for those currently serving. Usually I spend anywhere between 3-5 hours a week on Safe Families related work, whether that be meeting with a new volunteer or simply writing emails.
What is one of the best things you have seen happen at your church because of Safe Families?
I think the best thing I’ve seen happen at Northwood because of Safe Families is that people are becoming more aware of the hardships that the people in our community are facing. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in your own little social bubble when you’re not regularly confronted with people in some kind of crisis. It’s easy to drive by the homeless woman begging on the corner, but it’s pretty hard to ignore when someone shows up to church on Sunday with a new kid in their family. By bringing these children into our homes and sharing our stories with everyone else at church, people are asking what they can do, how they can help, and getting involved themselves. I’m really excited to see how God will use Northwood to bless our community over the next few years!