Last Friday we had our annual Christmas Party and Appreciation Dinner for our treatment foster parents. We know that being a foster parent isn’t always easy. While there is no doubt in my mind that they do this work because they care so much about children in need, the work that they do is very taxing. That is why we try to show them our appreciation throughout the year but take time to explicitly say thank you twice a year at the annual Foster Parent Christmas Party and our Foster Parent Appreciation Barbecue that is held in May.
This year, to spice things up a bit, our Licensing Team had the meal catered by a local Mexican restaurant and planned many fun activities.
Licensing department members Holly Grant, Sonia Lipker (in a fashionably simulated Ugly Christmas Sweater), Breanna Porter and Fannie Richardson.
The real color for the evening came from the ugly holiday sweater contest. I must admit, I started shopping for my ugly holiday sweater way too late. By the time I got around to shopping, I believe every ugly holiday sweater in all of Anchorage had been purchased. The thought did cross my mind that it was either my tardiness or my taste in sweaters is below par and the ugly ones look just fine to me. That said, hearing of my plight, a co-worker took mercy on me and lent me one of the few she had on hand.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest Winner
I do believe that my sweater might have won, but I decided not to enter for fear someone might be tempted to take a picture of me in it. I certainly knew that the contest winner would be photographed and this was one time I didn’t want my picture taken – call me vain.
As you can imagine the night was not all about the foster parents because when you bring a bunch of foster parents together there are always a ton of children. When there are a bunch of children, mostly foster children, then there is always a lot staff that comes to enjoy their company. So this means there were things for everyone to do. Between sledding on what little snow we had outside this year, craft making (by the end of the night I know one little girl had made enough Christmas decorations to decorate an entire tree) and, by far the most popular, an opportunity for the children to pick out their favorite stuffed animal to take home with them. There appeared to be a lot of very happy and exhausted children by the end of the night.
Hand Painting Christmas Ornaments
While the evening was fun, it was highlighted not only by the ugly sweater contest and good food, but also a Christmas related bingo game that used Christmas-themed pictures in place of the usual number and letter spaces on the bingo card. That had Breanna describing a, “full Rudolph,” which was different from a, “Rudolph’s head,” or, “Santa and his sleigh.” If you ask me, hearing B 9 and G 57 is a lot more efficient but not nearly as interesting.
What I most enjoy is hearing the stories about the young people that have been served by the foster parents – some dating back 10 years. I try to attend as many of these events as possible. As I see it, it’s like getting recharged. When I think about why I first got into the field it was to do the work that they are doing, I have long since decided that I could do more good for more young people by taking on the job I’m in but it is hearing what they are able to do to help the children in their care that makes me keep doing what I do.