Today we are sitting down with one of our amazing Love Box Leaders, Lorraine, and getting to know a little more about her and her experience with the Love Box program!
What was your childhood like? Were there any influential people in your life who inspired you?
I grew up in a very loving and supportive family in a very small town in southwest Louisiana. My parents were the two most influential people in my life and were always there for my siblings and me. Although we weren’t wealthy, I, along with my sister and two brothers grew up with everything we needed or wanted, including college educations, all from Louisiana State University. My parents passed away within 18 months of each other back in 2001-2002. My older sister still lives in the house where we all grew up, and I still look forward to and enjoy “going home” at least a couple of times a year. I also have an extremely close relationship with my sister and brothers, and I’m certain because of our closeness that this has contributed immensely to my sense of confidence, security and feeling loved.
Throughout my career (nearly 40 years), I’ve been blessed to work for some of the best organizations including Valero Corporation, Xerox, Apple, Promethean and now ProComputing. In every situation, I was blessed to have awesome managers who supported me in every way. I was pretty consumed with my career up to that point and hadn’t allowed much time to develop a personal life. But I was so close to my siblings, and as they had children (5 nephews & 3 nieces), I unofficially “adopted” them as my own. Suffice it to say, I loved and enjoyed playing the role of the “fun auntie”, which is one of the key reasons I joined the Love Box program.
It wasn’t until I was almost 40 years old before I met my husband, Jack. You know what they say, “good things come to those who wait”, and Jack was definitely worth the wait! Within a year after meeting Jack, we were married. When we discussed the topic of having children, given my age, and the fact that he had been married twice before (with two children from his first and one child from his second marriage), we decided not to have children of our own. In hindsight, I have a little regret that I never had children of my own.
What made you want to become a Love Box leader?
My husband and I recently became members of Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church (2 years ago). Once becoming members, we were encouraged to attend Austin Pilgrimage, a 3-day retreat to discover a new and stronger relationship with Christ. One of the blessings of attending was that I walked away with a strong desire to find a way to support/serve children in need. Soon after the retreat I caught the local news segment on Austin Angels and the Love Box program. The statement that called out to me the most was, “We are not all called to be foster parents, but we can support those who are." I immediately knew that this was something I needed and wanted to do.
I spoke to Jack about the Love Box program and he fully supported me. We both had some fear and anxiety going into this. Jack’s first fear was for my safety. Although that was on my mind, my biggest fear was how well would I connect with both foster parents and kids. Would they be difficult to relate to, talk to, and would we be able find anything in common, etc.? Through the prayer and support of my church Life Group, as well as my own prayers, my fears were quickly erased when I met the foster mom, Heather. For such a young woman, who was newly married, I was in total awe of her level of maturity and sense of serving. Both she and her husband, had big hearts and knew they were called to serve as foster parents. In addition, thanks to Kathleen Crow’s gentle manner and approach to this program, after our first meeting together I was fully ready to embark on this journey.
The two boys I support, are the youngest of five. At the time, the older siblings were living separately with their own foster families. The boys witnessed a violent act by the mother on their father. The mother served time in jail and the father required some time to recover from the attack. I started seeing the boys in April of 2017. At this time, their father was in the process of finding a place to live for all five kids.
My first meeting with the foster parents and the boys was a week before Easter. At the initial needs assessment meeting with Heather, I was able to learn the boys needed some new clothes for Easter Sunday/school. When you say “clothes”, I’m on a mission! One thing that amazed me the most was how adjusted and comfortable the boys were. I attribute that mostly due to the wonderful care and discipline Heather and Dustin showered these boys with. The boys were extremely engaged in our conversation and made me feel like we were going to have a really good connection.
It just so happened that 2-3 weeks following our first visit, the older boy was going to celebrate his 10th birthday. Working with Heather on his interests and preferences, I offered to pull together the decorations, food, and cake for his party. One bittersweet note Heather shared with me when she discussed his birthday party wishes, was that first birthday party he had ever had. When asked who he wanted to invite, his first response was to have his older brother and two sisters, along with his dad. That just about broke my heart. I am happy to say the party came together and he was able to celebrate his birthday, not only with his family, but also with some of his friends from school.
What do you love most about being a Love Box Leader?
What I love most is seeing the smiles on the boys’ faces when I show up– and how special the hugs are. The older of the two boys is so sensitive and appreciative of all I do. He is extremely intelligent and loves to read books. I always enjoy hearing his verbal “book reports” on what he’s reading at the time.
Early last summer, Heather informed me that the boys were scheduled to return to their dad in mid- August. He had finally found a place for all of the siblings to live together. The 3 older siblings moved back in with their dad in the early summer. Since their dad was working, they extended the younger boys’ return date so that Heather could take care of them during June and July, while they were out of school. I spoke with Kathleen on what this meant for me going forward, since I had only been on board a couple of months with the boys. Kathleen explained I could either stay with the boys or continue with Heather and Dustin, in the event that they took on another foster assignment. Given how much I enjoyed interacting with Heather, I thought it would be better if I remained with them on their next assignment. That decision lasted only about two weeks, when Heather and Dustin learned they were expecting a baby of their own! On one hand, it was great news for them, but on the other hand I would not be able to continue with them on a new foster child assignment. From this, I was able to make my decision to stay with the boys.
It was no surprise that I was little apprehensive about this new development. I had only met their father briefly at the older boy's birthday party. He seemed very nice and polite, but was extremely quiet. Given the circumstances, you couldn’t blame him. Before my decision was finalized, I asked Heather to check with the boys' dad, to be sure he would be okay with me continuing to see the boys– which he was.
What made you want to stay with your current foster boys, given they had gone back to their bio dad?
I had only been with the boys for four months, but we had been able to establish a good relationship and I wanted to continue that with them. The boys loved their foster parents, but they were really happy to be back with their dad and older siblings. Their dad is a quiet man and seems to be a very good father. I don’t know how he manages raising five children on his own. He is very appreciative of my support.
What do you hope the boys will get out of the Love Box program?
The boys still face a tough road ahead. Their dad is currently out of work but is hopeful he will find employment soon. Hopefully my continued visits will give them something to look forward to and bring them happiness and support. The bio mom has recently re-entered the picture and is going to start spending more time with them on the weekends. I’m going to have to get creative to figure out ways to schedule time. At the recent Lunch & Learn meeting this week, Kathleen and Katie made a great suggestion for me to visit the boys for lunch at school! I’m going to follow up with their dad to get this arranged!
How has the Love Box program made a difference in your life?
Just as I had hoped, the Love Box program has given me the chance to serve a couple of children in need of support and a chance to spoil them a little. I believe the role of “fun auntie” is in my DNA! My goal is to develop a deeper relationship with the boys and to instill in them I am someone who truly cares for them. I admire greatly what others in this program have done and aspire to learn new ways in how I can better serve these boys.