This summer four families participated in Welcome Home USA. The program provides children in the foster system the opportunity to stay with a host family for one week. In that week they participate in activities, learn new skills, and interact with host families. This year, three boys and two girls were able to be a part of Welcome Home.

During the week they were with host families, they attended daily meetings where they participated in ice-breaking activities, like the M&M game. This game gave the children the opportunity to become more comfortable with speaking out loud through the answer of questions associated with the color of M&M’s. Games like Nose Dive provided many giggles, as children used Vaseline on their nose to transport cotton balls. In addition to meeting and game times, the children attended a pool party at a host family’s home, and had their first bowling experience. They also got to spend a day riding an ATV, petting goats, feeding chickens, and admiring bunnies at a day camp put on by Mountainside Ministries. Each weekday, the children worked on personal Lifebooks. The Lifebook gave them the opportunity to document their likes, dislikes, feelings, as well as the story of their journey from past to present, and their hopes of what they would like to do when they grow up.

usa2_sThe week long program gave many of these children in the foster system the opportunity to shine. One participant, a young lady, was extremely shy at the beginning of the week. She spoke very little, and would not look anyone in the eyes. As the week progressed, she connected with a volunteer and quickly began to blossom. As her comfort level increased, she began to smile, laugh, and display confidence. This was demonstrated when she had to take a swimming test at the end of the week. Rather than hold back, she boldly volunteered to test in front of all the adult leaders. It was an exciting moment for everyone when this sweet girl, who could not swim at the start of the week, passed her test with flying colors.

The week proved to be one that will not be forgotten by the children, host families, and ICA staff. Working as a team, there was great love and encouragement shared between all involved. The program concluded with a picnic. Each of the children received an Award of Awesomeness that listed wonderful traits about that child. They also received a backpack full of school supplies, and a DVD to remember their experience.

If you would like more information about how you can participate in Welcome Home U.S.A., or how you can help a child in the foster care system, please contact ICA at (951) 695-3336.