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Maggie and Mark (not their real names, but real people) have been foster carers with Wesley Mission since 2013. Earlier this year, Mark died suddenly. At the invitation of her fabulous case workers, Morgan and Jess, and their team leader, Thomas, I had the privilege of reaching out to a shocked and grieving Maggie to offer my condolences. We chatted, and we prayed.

A month or so after Mark’s death, Maggie was diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal cancer. She passed away a couple of weeks ago. I wrote to her and Mark’s grieving family, honouring their incredible parents. It was both an easy and hard letter to write. Easy because over their ten years with us as carers, Maggie and Mark provided a loving and nurturing home for 29 different kids – supported by their amazing case workers.

I can’t help but think of Maggie and Mark as we mark Foster Care and Kinship week (September 10-16). Across NSW, 15,000 children are currently in the child protection system. Partnering with 520 amazing foster families (individuals and couples), Wesley Dalmar will tonight care for 672 of those children. The Dalmar team of case workers and other specialists and support staff are superstars.

The foster families in our cities, suburbs, towns and on our farms are unseen and unsung heroes. Like Maggie and Mark, the overwhelming majority are fierce in the love and empowerment they provide kids in their care.

The best place for our children to be nurtured is with their birth family. Sadly, that’s not always possible. It’s why foster families will continue to play such an important role in seeing every child, no matter their story, have the opportunity not only to be safe, but to flourish.

Our work with children and families is central to who we are at Wesley Mission. It began in the 1890’s in Woolloomooloo and Darlinghurst, later establishing a substantial presence on what was then a farm at Carlingford – our Dalmar site today. Later this year we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of our work at that location. Today, our work with children and their families stretches from Sydney to Ballina, with many points in between.

Our work with children and families includes not only supporting children in out of home care, but through programs like Family Preservation, Intensive Therapeutic Care, Keeping Connected, Take Charge of Your Life, Supported Independent Living and Wesley Aunties and Uncles. Less than a year ago, after many years of preparation, we were accredited as one of NSW’s very few adoption agencies. And over the last two years we have supported more than 6000 women across NSW and the ACT (many with children) fleeing domestic and family violence through the Escaping Violence Payment Trial.

The work all these teams do in working with and supporting children and their families, and the many who directly support them, is life changing. It is also very hard at times, even heartbreaking. I am so grateful for all who serve with Wesley Mission in this space.

With soft hearts filled with compassion, our team and the volunteers they work with are making a profound impact in our community, touching the lives of thousands every year.

Every blessing,

Rev Stu Cameron
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission

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