Fosters United was started in 2014 as the personal ministry of Brian and Vanessa Crowe, a foster family in Northern Illinois. Brian and Vanessa worked to organize a facebook group where foster parents could share their needs, their struggles, and their successes.
As the group grew, the needs grew. Out of her own need to have clothing for the rotation of foster children through her home, Vanessa began to collect clothing in all sizes, genders, and seasons. Soon, she was inspired to begin sharing these items with other foster families in her community. These families began to co-op together donating and distributing gently clothing, books, toys, and equipment for their foster children. As these items were collected, they soon overtook Brian and Vanessa’s personal storage space. The Crowes approached a local community center in Leaf River, IL, and a partnership was created where two rooms were given to Fosters United rent free.
The clothing closet moved into these rooms at the Leaf River Community Complex and served not only foster families, but any family in need in the community. The growth was incredible. Donations soon became more than one family could manage. Distributions were also difficult. Many who had need would request delivery instead of driving to Leaf River and volunteers were needed.
In 2016, Brian and Vanessa approached Shelly Spickler at New Life Bible Church to take the lead of this ministry. New Life agreed and became the legal organizational head of the ministry. As an IRS recognized 501(c)3, New Life can provide the fiscal sponsorship for Fosters United and govern the vision and mission of the ministry.
We coordinated a ministry lead team, acting as an advisory board under the direction of the church, and are moving forward to expand the vision and redefine the focus from the online group to face to face support groups and enrichment events.
Fosters United is funded by donations to New Life Bible Church–Fosters United, grants, and community fund raisers. All donations are tax deductible. Currently, we have assisted foster families here in Northern Illinois and internationally in Uganda and Rwanda. We are working from the ground level to build the ministry in Uganda.