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Families Helping Families of Iowa in need of new building to address growing needs

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - When a child is placed in foster care, little to nothing comes with them.

“A lot of times when those children are removed from their parents, they are wearing just the clothes on their back,” Melissa Carlson, executive director at Families Helping Families of Iowa, said.

That’s where organizations like Families Helping Families of Iowa steps in as a resource, from school supplies to clothes - for babies through high school seniors.

“We really provide just all the basic necessities that a kiddo might need,” Carlson said.

It was the first stop Tuesday morning for Kari Lamb who got the call this morning she would have a new placement.

“They have everything from diapers to socks to gloves to snow boots, so when we’re scrambling at the change of seasons trying to figure out who has what and who doesn’t, this is always my first stop,” Lamb said.

Lamb is a foster and adoptive mom. She and her husband got their license 4 years ago, but this year has been like no other.

“During the pandemic, we have welcomed in four children alone since March in our home, and that is the most that we have, the most phone calls that we have received since we started doing this four years ago,” Lamb said.

However, the growing need brings the need for more space at the non-profit Families Helping Families.

“We’re in an old 2,500 square-foot split level house and we’ve outgrown it,” Carlson said.

It’s also not handicap accessible, and damage from the derecho this August cut their space for storage down limiting what donations they can take in.

“I have a list of all the different sections that are full at the moment, so we’re trying to figure out what should go in storage and what should go out here, and it’s tight on space,” Michael Mathews, a volunteer, said.

Carlson said the biggest challenge is finding a space within their $300,000 budget, but she remains hopeful they’ll be able to expand their services.

“We can’t take cribs right now because we don’t have the space. We use to take cribs, and we would love to take twin beds or bunk beds because that’s a big request,” Carlson said.

Carlson said it would make things a little easier for moms like Lamb and the kids she’s opened her home to.

“There are so many kids that need a stable home, and stable environment,” Lamb said.

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