My Walk with Walk for the Waiting

I first heard about Walk for the Waiting in the spring of 2013.  I was finishing up my senior year of college at Mizzou and a friend called me one day to tell me about this awesome new event she was going to back home.

“Walk for the Waiting,” she said.
“Walk for who?” I asked in return.  Waiting… who is waiting for what and why do we care?
“For kids that are waiting for families.  Orphans.”

Orphans.

I was struck by her usage of the word, but also deeply moved by the truth of it.  Orphans in our very own backyard.  At home.

I moved back to Little Rock that August, and when Walk for the Waiting got fired up again, I immediately registered.  I started getting the regular email blasts from Eric in the weeks and days leading up to the walk, and one in particular inspired me to respond.  It was a simple question:

Why are you walking?

That question struck a match in my heart.  Why wouldn’t I be walking?!
Later that afternoon, in between phone calls at work, I processed the question and wrote my reply.

My husband (then fiancé) and I went to our first Walk for the Waiting together.

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2014

We loved the event!  It was the first time I met waiting kids face to face.  The first time I saw the beauty of foster families.  The first time I learned that I really could make a difference even if we’re not fostering or adopting right now.  It’s not a cause for parents, it’s a cause for the church.  The crisis became much more personal for me.

I got plugged in with the planning committee to help plan Walk for the Waiting 2015 and stepped into the role of event coordinator.

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2015: A new Cisar tradition

 

God decided to use me a little bit more that year.  Eric asked if I wouldn’t mind being part of the promotional video.  My dad even got involved, and did the audio for why he’s walking.  It was so meaningful to see my family’s involvement with the Walk in such an intimate way.  Home videos from my childhood flashed across the screen while my dad’s voice is in the background, explaining why walking means so much to our family.  If it weren’t for adoption, those home videos wouldn’t exist.

Doesn’t every child deserve home videos with their family?  Doesn’t every child deserve a childhood?

Our family’s involvement with the promotional video made me want to stand up and advocate for childhoods even more.  It made the number 4,600 come to life.  It was a harsh reality, and I had to do more.

At our Walk debrief meeting a few days later, I was appointed Walk Chair.  And here we are after months of prayer and planning, getting ready to welcome walkers tomorrow morning!

It’s been a great experience of chairing this event.  We’ve been blessed with more registered walkers and donors than ever before, and have had a lot of great exposure with media outlets getting behind the mission.  We are reaching members of the community that may not have ever heard of the foster care crisis, or the need for adoptive families.  We have educated kids and youth about foster care and what they can do to make a difference for their peers.  We are determined to mobilize the church and reach our goal of NO MORE WAITING KIDS!

The weatherman is calling for rain tomorrow, but that’s not dampening anyone’s spirits!  God’s people are rising to face the challenge.  Kids don’t stop waiting for families when the sun is shining, so we’re not going to stop walking because of a little bit of rain!  When it rains, I’ll see God painting his canvas sky with the picture of His restorative grace.

Walk for the Waiting 2016 is going to be pretty different from what you’ve seen in previous years, as we’ll be in a covered area at War Memorial Stadium.  It’ll have a whole new feel and more fun surprises than before!  We’ve got The CALL, Project Zero or Immerse Arkansas board members getting ready to kiss a pig!  We’ve got an awesome program of worship and fellowship to kick off the Walk, a photo booth for families and friends to document their fun, tattoos and grab bags for kids to enjoy, and a colorful surprise at the end!  There’s plenty of room for everyone, don’t let the rain keep you away!

I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow morning!

 

Until no more are waiting,

Robyn Cisar

 

 

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Rain? Let’s Double Down!

You’ve likely seen that we’re expecting rain this weekend. Is this an inconvenience? A challenge? A barrier?

You bet.

But as I consider how God is using the Church to care for kids in crisis, I’ll take this rain as a gift.

As a colleague of mine often says, the world of foster care and adoption is a “beautiful challenge,” and I can’t think of a more beautiful picture than hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of us showing up on Saturday to say, “Together, we’re up for the challenge. We’re not giving up.”

In fact, isn’t that what waiting kids need – people who will say, “We’re with you, not matter the cost.”

So what’s our rain plan? Let’s double down. Let’s recruit more walkers, let’s call on more donors, let’s find more families, volunteers, mentors, tutors, advocates, more people who are up for the beautiful challenge of caring for kids in crisis.

Our amazing Walk Team has put together a great rain plan in case it is in fact storming. It turns out there will be plenty of space in the concourse to put up a stage and fun walk route around the inside of the stadium (think where bathrooms and concession stands are). It might be a little uncomfortable or awkward at times, but may it remind us of the discomfort of kids who are waiting! Many of the key details remain the same, but the walk route will be different from years past as we will not be walking outside:

1) Where:

War Memorial Stadium
1 Stadium Dr.
Little Rock, AR 72205

2) When

3) Parking and Entrance 

4) Registration & Donations & T-shirts

Please register upon entrance at Gate 11. At registration, please turn in any collected donations with the completed pledge form. You’ll also be able to make a donation if you like as well as receive a coupon for a free t-shirt if you’ve raised $250 or more!  Families or couples that raise more than $500 can receive one additional free shirt (max 2 free t-shirts per family). Additional t-shirts can be purchased for $15 each.

5) Let’s turn our hearts and cries to God

We look forward to celebrating what God is doing on behalf of waiting kids as we walk as well as asking Him to meet the needs of kids still waiting!

If you have any remaining questions or concerns, please shoot me a note or send an email to support@walkforthewaiting.org.

Three more days! Again – let’s keep going for more walkers and more donors!

Walking with you,
Eric

Why Roberta Walks

This is why I walk:

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Bob and Ruth, with Roberta and her two sisters, Ellie and Elizabeth

This photo is the day I knew I had a forever family!  August 12, 1991 – I was ten years old; I didn’t know it then but my life just got better and just got a little harder in a way, too.  After six years in the foster care system in the state of Michigan, I was adopted and moved out of state to a totally new life.  My younger sister was adopted with me while my older sister chose to stay behind and aged out.

I walk for all the children in the state of Arkansas who don’t yet have a forever family photo to look at.  I walk because I know first hand how these kids view the world.  I walk to bring more awareness to these precious children in the foster care system.  I walk to tell my story and one day to have these children look at their forever family photo, like I get to everyday!

Written by:  Roberta Heft

Walking for Giovanni

Please see this critical post from Christie Erwin, Executive Director of Project Zero. This is WHY we do Walk for the Waiting, so kids like Gio will have a family:

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Introducing: Text to Donate!!

The main things to remember about using the text-to-donate functionality are: 41411 and WALK16.  Texting WALK16 to 41411 will result in a reply text with a link to the main Walk for the Waiting donation page (walkforthewaiting.org/Donate).

It is possible to receive a link to a specific walker’s or team’s page as well (which has the option to donate to the walker or team at the top of the page).  This is done by adding the walker/team Custom URL after WALK16.  The format is WALK16  {id or custom url}

What does this look like in practice?  I’ll use Robyn as an example.  Robyn’s custom URL is robyncisar.  Texting WALK16 robyncisar to 41411 will result in a reply text that says “https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/RobynCisar”.  Tapping that link will open Robyn’s page in a browser, and then the person can donate directly to her.

 

What are Custom URLs?

A Custom URL is an option that can be set up for any walker or team.  By default it is blank and going to someone’s page results in a long URL.  Using Robyn as an example again, here is the current URL for her team https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/Team/View/19516/Team-Cisar.  A Custom URL can be anything the walker/team would like and allows for a much shorter URL.  For example, if the Custom URL for Team Cisar was “teamcisar”, then the URL for this team’s page would just be https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/teamcisar.  

 

Creating Custom URLs

This can be created by going to your “My HQ” page (go to walkforthewaiting.org and sign in).  Once there, just click the “Create Custom URL” link on the right side of the page.  A little window will open up and you can type in whatever is desired.  To do this for a team, access your own “My HQ” page, then click “View Team Page” in the upper left corner.  Right above the Donate box it will say “Edit My Info”.  Just click the URL link and it will open a window where the Custom URL can be set up.

If you have trouble, please email support@walkforthewaiting.org

 

Text-to-Donate Info (Quick Guide)

Send WALK16 to 41411 to receive a reply with a link to donate to the Walk’s general fund.

To allow people to send a text and receive a reply with a link to donate directly to an individual or team, a Custom URL will be needed.

A custom URL is a direct link to a walker’s/team’s  fundraising page. It can be anything from their name to something interesting or exciting.  This can be created by logging into the Walk site and clicking “Create Custom URL” from the list on the right side.  For example, testurl.

 

The Custom URL would be added after WALK16 in the text.  Here are examples (note that there is a space between WALK16 and the Custom URL):

WALK16 testurl

WALK16 teamcisar

Why Megan Walks

I work at Aftercare Express at Lakewood United Methodist Church in North Little Rock. I’m a senior at the University of Central Arkansas and have been deeply affected and awakened by my encounters with the foster care world through the children and families I work for.
Megan Dixon
For the last two years at Aftercare Express, I have walked alongside those who have been deeply affected by foster care—both positively and negatively. I’ve experienced the highs of sitting in the room as one of my kids got adopted, but I’ve also experienced the lows of holding one of my crying kids because life is hard.

I’m walking in Walk for the Waiting because I never want to forget about Jesus’s heart for his children who have been abused and forgotten for too long.

I’m excited to be a part of the movement that will change the future of foster care in Arkansas!

 

By: Megan Dixon

 

Why Jacquelyn Walks

Why am I walking?

I am walking for my future children. I am walking for your child’s college roommate or for your future daughter in law. I think so many times we forget that these kids are going to grow up and become adults. Most of them will go to college, start a career and someday have a family of their own. But some of them will live on the streets and become homeless.

I believe that our childhood plays a big part in who we are. A lot of the children in foster care learn at an early age that their survival is up to them. A lot of them have learned how to find and provide meals for themselves and their siblings before the age of 5. The older child is typically forced to raise the younger kids and they are often more mature than the majority of their peers. They are more than likely alone and by themselves most of the day, they may never step foot in a school until they enter foster care, they might not even know what church is and they will most likely be emotionally shut down because they know that no one will answer their cry. The word neglected is an understatement.

If you had a chance right now to shield them from this pain, would you? If you knew that your future daughter in law, son in law or grandchild was in foster care at this very moment, wouldn’t you want to do all you could to take them out of those tough situations and make sure they are raised in a safe and healthy environment?

Most of the children in foster care will want better for their own children and will strive to become super moms and super dads. Some of them will want to help others and may become Foster Parents, Doctors, Attorneys, Counselors, Case Workers, Teachers, Police Officers, or they may want to start a program that in some way might help foster children.

Before I started working at The CALL, I never gave foster care more than a passing glance. I had been considering changing my career but I didn’t know where the Lord wanted me next. I knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference, and the Lord brought me to The CALL.

My husband and I were considering 12291791_10205109540128530_8176117510998575058_obecoming foster parents for the last 6 months and I am happy to say that we are now on the journey to becoming foster parents! It was so easy for us to think “someone else will do it” or “I couldn’t really make a difference”.

But the facts are that if one person in every church in Arkansas would open their home, we would be meeting the need. That’s it! Sounds easy right? BUT there are many churches that do not have foster & adoption programs, or they might not recognize the local foster & adoption organizations in their community. They may not have a plan to help and encourage the current foster families in their congregation.

Walk for the Waiting is an outreach. We are going out into the community to find those churches, businesses and families that are ready to put the children’s needs before their own.

Wouldn’t it be incredible to be one of the only states that doesn’t have a problem with foster care?

Wouldn’t it be remarkable for the world to see that God is here in Arkansas and changing lives?

We are not asking you to become foster parents. We are asking you to care. We are asking you to see the need. We are asking you to walk.

“Our world froze…” – Why The Spann’s Walk

In January, 2013, Jeremy and I decided we were ready to expand our family through adoption. We attended an informational meeting held through the CALL (a Christian organization that teams with DCFS to get families open to foster or adopt). Nine long months later, after fingerprints, background checks, home visits, and intense interviews, we were opened to foster and adopt!

 
The next step came when we found the Project Zero website. Project Zero is an organization that connects open families with waiting children. On their website we found this picture:

The Spann Boys
The Spann Boys

Our world froze and we immediately looked at each other, saying this might be it. Our next step was to speak with the incredible people at Project Zero, who immediately put us into contact with their case manager. She asked if we would be able to meet them at the Disney Extravaganza the next weekend, where open families can meet kids who are ready for adoption in a very sensitive, fun way, where the kids and grown-ups get to meet and play.

We arranged to meet the boys there, but we had a hard time finding them since the event is so large. Then, our oldest son, Kenneth, literally ran into my husband on the bouncy house. When Jeremy saw them, he sent me a text saying, “I think we just found our boys!” The rest of the day was spent playing games and in the sand with them, and we knew we were a perfect match.

DCFS agreed with us a couple of weeks later, and they let us know we had been matched with the boys. Visits began, and they moved permanently into our home July 2014. Our adoption was finalized 3/18/15!
Thanks to The CALL and Project Zero, the past year and a half has been full of “firsts:” training wheels coming off, first day of pre-k,kindergarten, and first grade, first birthday parties and Christmases.

The Spann Family
The Spann Family
We are incredibly blessed to have found our forever family. Kenneth and Miles have made our family complete. We honor the CALL and Project Zero on Saturday, April 30th, 2016 at 9 a.m. at the Walk for the Waiting at War Memorial. Without these groups, we would not have these amazing eyes and bright smiles to fill our hearts every.single.day.
-Elizabeth, Jeremy, Kenneth & Miles

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