There are so many unsung heroes in the world that will never, ever get the credit or the recognition they deserve. At Rethreaded, we want to honor our local heroes that are working behind the scenes to help stop human trafficking. This past month we honored the workers at Family Support Services in what we have now started calling a Toffee Blessing Bomb. (I know….it’s as crazy as it sounds)
Since 2001, Family Support Services of North Florida (FSS) has been the lead agency for family preservation, foster care, adoption, and extended foster care in Duval and Nassau counties in North Florida. When a child or family in our community experiences a crisis, they provide services, resources, education and support, with care, empathy, and understanding. As the lead child welfare agency in Duval and Nassau counties, and in partnership with community-based organizations, they improve the circumstances and outcomes for families, provide safe homes for abused and/or neglected children and teens through foster care, and find forever families for children through adoption. FSS has supported and strengthened over 7,768 families in their family preservation program and helped 8,613 reunite with their families through their foster care agency. They have 1,165 foster homes and have been part of 5,521 forever families. They work day and night in the trenches guiding children and families to a safe future.
Most people don’t know but over 60% of child sex trafficking victims have been part of the foster care system. This means that on a daily basis these amazing workers are part of either preventing children from entering the world of human trafficking or helping them navigate their way out of human trafficking.
We wanted to really bless the staff at FSS so we worked with their management team to show up unannounced at their job site, say thank you for their work, and bless each person on staff with our delicious toffee!
We showed up at the downtown office, their prevention center Center of Hope, and also visited their staff in Nassau County. The downtown office clearly loves the toffee! 🙂
We let the staff choose between three of our favorite toffees that we make in-house at Rethreaded: Coffee Toffee, Chai Tea Toffee, and Honey Butter Toffee. We got to give away over 150 bags!
The staff had so much fun surprising the FSS staff with our delicious survivor-made toffee.
At each location, we read a letter of thanks over the staff and also a blessing. We are legit so proud of each staff member at FSS.
The awesome staff at the Nassau County Florida Support Services. So many unsung heroes fighting for our kiddos and families.
We were able to talk and get to know these amazing heroes as we handed out toffee. What a gift to be able to listen and bless the FSS staff.
We are so proud of the work that the Center of Hope and its surrounding partners do to strengthen families to stop children from ever entering the foster care system. We did try to have some fun as well!
We had a chance to sit down with one of the Case Managers from FSS to record a talk with her about why the work at FSS is important. Carrie Everett, Family Services Counselor, has been doing this work for the past 7 and 1/2 years. She is one of the most amazing people I have had a chance to sit down with (you can listen to the interview here). Not only has she worked helping to restore families as her job, but she has also adopted 6 children into her family! So every day after a long day of work she goes home to 9 children…..this woman is pure gold.
1. Explain to me why you are passionate about the work of FSS?
The kids. I have six adopted children that are adopted out of the foster care system. I was also a foster care parent before and while working here at FSS and I have seen what the kids have gone through in the system and decided that I wanted to make their experience worth something. I wanted to use their experience as my motivation to say that I wanted to go and help kids. I saw the difference the case worker made in my children’s lives as they went through the adoption process and decided I wanted to help kids myself.
2. This work can sometimes be very challenging. Can you please share what keeps you motivated and keeps your going?
For me I had to learn how to focus on the small wins. Most of the time in my job the big wins are not very often and can be very few and far between. If I always waited for the big wins I would become very unmotivated so I have learned to look for the small wins. When a parent goes from having supervised visit to an unsupervised visit with their child to me that is a win because they have increased their ability to care for their kids. Every day on the way home I ask myself, “What is your win today?” That is usually how I end my workday. (And then she goes home to her 9 kids!)
3. What would you like people outside the organization to know about FSS?
Not one of us is here just for the pay. The pay would never be enough to do what we do every day. From the person who answers the phones to the directors, none of us are here for the pay. Because it will never be enough. We are here because we truly want to see a difference in our community. I was raised in Nassau County and I want to see better for my community. I want to see better for our kids because they are our future. I know that sounds cheesy but the reality is that they will lead this world one day. And I want to make sure the generations we leave are solid and on good foundations.
And I think that people don’t realize how hard this work is. They see us as people who do the eight hours of work and then go home. And the reality is that not one of us does this work and leaves the job behind. We take it everywhere we go.
I was so struck by my interview with Carrie. We actually sat with her for another 15 minutes listening to her heart for children and the reunification of families. She is a living and breathing example to me of love in action. She is truly an unsung hero.
It was these last statements that Carrie really touched my heart the most. “And the reality is that not one of us does this work and leaves the job behind. We take it everywhere we go.”
We wrote a thank you letter and were able to read the letter of thanks and a blessing over the staff of FSS. We wanted to share it so you could get a glimpse of what these amazing employees do for the sake of children every day.
We are here to say thank you and let you know that Rethreaded sees you.
Thank you so much for tirelessly working on the behalf of children without the recognition you deserve.
Thank you for the hours of paperwork that go with the job.
Thank you for advocating for children even when it breaks your heart, even when you are tired. Even when you are running out of hope.
Thank you for doing the hard work of standing in the trauma. Of being with children and listening to their stories.
Thank you for being hands and feet that mean safety for children.
Thank you for navigating families to stay together and then if needed navigating kids to new safe families.
Thank you for entering into the darkness.
Thank you for paperwork on an outdated system.
Thank you for loving kids even when they won’t accept your love.
Thank you for working in our broken system to help children.
Thank you for walking through injustice. Racial injustice. Economic injustice.
Thank you for holding those stories that still haunt you close to your heart.
Thank you for seeing past kids trauma into their hearts.
Thank you for absorbing the fear, the anger, the confusion not just of the children but the families that are involved.
Thank you for believing that you can make a difference.
Thank you for not giving up.
Thank you for pushing through the doubt that you are making a difference.
Thank you for your bravery.
We hope this toffee allows you to take pause and take care of yourself. To pause and remember your why. Here is a blessing for you.
A blessing for your work:
We speak Hope.
We speak gratitude.
We speak empowerment.
We speak forgiveness.
We speak perseverance
We speak love.
We speak all these over you.
Maybe you have the courage to continue to move forward and move with.
We are so proud of you. We are thankful to be in this fight with you.
Keep it up FSS.