The white cottage-sized shed may not look like much from Castleberry Road, but inside are cribs, strollers, games, clothes and almost anything else a parent who knows they’re having a baby can plan for but that a foster parent who may get a call at 11 p.m. at night, asking if they can take in a toddler the next morning, may not.
Looking back on that call she and her husband got years ago, Ashley Anderson told a crowd of about 30 behind SAFFT of Forsyth County Thursday afternoon that she wishes there was something like the resource closet she stood in front of to help with the transition of taking in a foster child.
“We had an 8-year-old. We didn’t have our own kids at that time,” said Anderson, who founded the nonprofit Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, or SAFFT, and ran it for eight years before stepping down in August for her husband, Brian Anderson, to assume operations. “I had nothing for a 2-year-old. Nothing.”
Now, if that situation presents itself for the adults taking in foster children in Forsyth County, they can take a look in the Forsyth Resource Closet, a storage facility that BC Homes and other industry companies volunteered their time, money and resources to build.
Anderson said the closet, which has been in the works for more than a year, used to be a dream.
“There is not anything like what we have here available for kids coming into foster care,” she said. “A lot of the times, think about when a kid is taken from their home and their parents to go into foster care. A lot of the times, these kids come with nothing. A trash bag, maybe. Sometimes that’s it.”
People can donate to the closet, which is temperature controlled and already packed with boxes and crates from floor to ceiling.
The need to support foster parents and children is greater now than ever before, Anderson said. There are more Forsyth County kids in foster care now — more than 130 — when there used to be an average of about 60.
Shane Stafford, of Southern Heritage Home Builders, was one of the contractors who volunteered for the project.
“We’re always looking for a place to make a difference,” he said. “It just came up, and it’s just a great opportunity for a small place like this that we can conquer.”
Stafford said they started with brick walls that were already in place and had to fill it in to make a “safer and more climatic place to be.”
He heard about the project from Josh Bray of BC Homes, who knows the Anderson from their Rotary club and involvement in the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
“Construction guys, we can look tough on the outside, but every one of our guys stepped up and said, no questions asked, let me contribute this or let me donate that,” he said. “It was pretty powerful to let them get involved and let them do what they can do.”
He said everything in the shed from dry wall, heating and air and electrical work to framing, the trim, painting, a garage door and exterior doors were donated.
“I saw how great the need was, and, frankly, most kids or a lot of kids are born with lots of opportunity and even a rocket ship tied to their back,” he said, “and these kids are, in the words of [local philanthropist] Tommy Bagwell, are born with an anchor around their feet.
“And so just the chance that we can pitch in and help some families trying to help some kids was kind of a no-brainer.”