Today is a bittersweet day for me. As I sit here with a cup of coffee to write this blog post, my mind begins to race as I reflect over the past three years.
A Home for Jolee Foundation began in 2015 in the hearts and minds of my daughter, Brittani Aiken and myself. It would take several years before we would see our dream come to fruition. A dream that would help members of the church with the high cost of adopting. After walking the adoption journey with Jeremy and Jinnie Thornton and seeing all the struggles associated with the financial side as well as the emotional side, we knew that we wanted to help make a difference. After all, “we are all not called to adopt but we are all called to help,” as my daughter would so eloquently proclaim! The day that Jolee was born still remains one of the most exciting days of my life because it was the day that the Thornton's dream came true. They had prayed for a family for a long time. On this day, God answered their prayers. It was only fitting that this foundation would be named after this precious soul. A likeness of Jolee serves as our foundation's mascot and her own words are used from time to time on different marketing materials.
So, why is today bittersweet for me? It's today that I step down as president of this foundation that has always been my heart. This has been the hardest decision that I've been faced with making to date. However, my mother was recently diagnosed with ALS and it is very aggressive. It has been said that life comes full circle if you live long enough. This is a statement that has been proven true in my life. Now my precious mother needs me to care for her just as she cared for me long ago. This ugly disease has robbed her of her muscle strength and has stolen her beautiful voice but it has not changed her smile nor touched her soul. I am privileged to be in a position where I can care for her.
I'd like to take this time to express my gratitude to all those people whom I have had the privilege of getting to know through the work of this foundation. First of all, thank you to each woman who has served and who serves on the board of directors. Leading a group of women, such as each of you, has definitely been a challenging task. I have learned so much from each of you and I love you dearly. I am so thankful to God for seeing fit that our lives crossed paths, even if for a short time. Thank you to Casie and Nick Adams for allowing us to honor their daughter, Caelyn, with a memorial grant . The Caelyn Raine Memorial Grant has blessed five couples so far and will soon bless another. Thank you to those who believed in this foundation even before we were able to make it official. Brittani and I toiled and labored to make and sell t-shirts to raise the start-up cost. To the beautiful members of the Looxahoma congregation, it is because of your purchases that we were able to start this foundation. Thank you. Thank you also to the elders of the Looxahoma congregation who saw this work as a work worthy of monthly support. It's because of your continued support that we are able to have the donor software and website that we currently have. Thank you. To each person who donated and encouraged us with your kind words, thank you! To all of you who have participated in our fundraising activities, time after time, thank you! It's only through your sacrificial giving that we can provide grants to members of the church.
I've had the privilege of meeting six beautiful couples, whose dreams of adopting didn't stop with the dreaming. These brave couples worked hard to make adoption a reality. They give God the praise for His providential hand in their life. They truly understand that every child deserves a loving home where they will learn about God and where the example will always be to put God first. So thank you, Jeremy and Jinnie Thornton, *Megan and Luke Gurchiek, Caleb and Jenna Ashby, Scott and Melissa Clark, Daniel and Tiffany Gaines, and *Tim and Julie Collins. Each of you are the heroes of this foundation! Each one of you taught me something different about loving a child. Each of you showed me, through your example, God's love in action. Thank you. (*Note: Please continue to pray for these two couples as they are waiting to be matched with a birth mother.)
On June 1, 2019, A Home for Jolee's new president will be announced. I am extremely excited about the new leadership as the future of this foundation is in very capable hands. These changes will open doors of greater possibilities!