By Nancy Tannler

Mannahouse is the non-denominational church with six campuses in the greater Portland-Vancouver area. The Rocky Butte campus, at NE 92 and Prescott St., has partnered with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to acknowledge and thank foster care families. Members of this faith-based community are invested in supporting children in foster care and their families.

Cherise Bjornsgard, a volunteer for Mannahouse, spoke of the current project they are working on for foster kids and their families. This is in lieu of a celebration that usually takes place during May, National Foster Care Awareness Month.

“Due to the coronavirus we all had to rethink how we help DHS say thank you and acknowledge foster parents and family members who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections,” she said.

In the past they have held a celebration on the Mannahouse campus. The events had food and activities with local sponsors like Home Depot, Target and Starbucks passing out gift cards. Usually around 150 people would show up although there are 500- 700 people on the roster to thank.

“This year we got creative and decided upon gift baskets to show appreciation to foster families,” Bjornsgard said.

These baskets are currently being put together and will start to be delivered in June. Each one has a theme like a dinner out, craft night, gardening or summer games/things to do as a family. They will include gift cards, notes of appreciation and some of them will be translated into Spanish or any language requested.

She went on to say, “If you would like more information on how to get involved by building a basket or to make a donation, please email us at fosterbasketproject@gmail.com.”

All gift baskets need to be submitted by June 16. Anything donated to the project will be quarantined for 14 days.

The pastor at Mannahouse, Mark Estes, has made the welfare of children in compromised situations the church’s special focus. The need for people to foster children is great and the COVID-19 epidemic has made things even more complicated. Any small participation on the part of this community is appreciated.

Photo by Cherise Bjornsgard