WOODLAND (CBS13) — While thousands of families across the country are enjoying Christmas dinner and time together, for hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system, that picture of family time might only be a dream.
This Christmas, CBS13 found a woman that made that dream a reality by creating a nonprofit to help other foster parents like her.
Renee and Gary Hemsley have two biological daughters and four foster children, Brooklyn, Eliana, Brandon, and Aiden, who have special needs.
The parents fostered eight children before fostering and adopting the four they have now. All were exposed to drugs or alcohol while in their mothers’ womb. Eliana was not even expected to live.
But Renee, who was a foster child herself, says she was determined to give them a better chance at life. She says being a foster mom has changed her, and that originally she was an anxious mom.
“…I’ve learned to adjust and grow with each of my children and learn how to accommodate and love unconditionally,” she said.
That is why she is paying it forward and paving the way for other foster and adoptive families with her nonprofit Hope’s Anchor. She hopes to provide those families with much-needed supplies and support.
The nonprofit originally started in Renee’s garage. It quickly grew to an office space downtown. With so many donations this year, they are having to expand to another industrial space nearby.
Angie Modesto was one of the 120 families helped by Hope’s Anchor in recent years. She is currently fostering three siblings and got what she needed with one call.
Modesto received a twin bed and bed frame, clothes, toys and a hot meal to help ease the transition with the children.