MOULTRIE, Ga. — Southern Regional Technical College Dual Enrollment Construction students at Colquitt County High School are working hard on a critical project: Handcrafting beds for local kids in foster care. Thanks to a partnership with The Forgotten Initiative (TFI), these students are meeting an unmet need in Moultrie and Colquitt County.
TFI is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports agencies, foster families, and children in foster care by helping individuals across the nation create and grow sustainable foster care ministries in their communities. TFI provides the foster community with tools, resources, training, and access to a broad network of advocates and volunteers.
According to Colquitt County TFI Advocate Amber Schwalls, “Children often enter foster care with multiple siblings and are frequently separated due to the bed availability requirements of Division of Family and Children Services. Foster families are eager to keep siblings together, but their homes are not always equipped with proper beds and bedding to accommodate all ages, genders, and DFCS requirements for every possible child placement configuration.”
The ambitious efforts of the students and their instructor, CCHS Construction Department Head and SRTC faculty John McFarland, allow more sibling groups to stay together and support foster families in accommodating what could otherwise be challenging placements, according to a press release from SRTC. Thanks to a collaboration with Holman Supply Co. and Colquitt Regional Employee Committee, the hardware and supplies the students need to complete each bed are provided at no cost to the class.
In addition, the students are building a unique storage unit so that the beds can be built in advance and stored until the need arises, the press release said. Before a bed is given to a child, TFI provides bedding thanks to partnerships with Triangle Furniture and The Bill Edwards Family, who provide mattresses, mattress pads, and box springs. Once a bed is given to a child, that bed becomes theirs, even after they leave the foster care system.
SRTC High School Coordinator Dana Lewis said that this project goes far beyond teaching the students basic carpentry skills. “We're not just building a skilled workforce. We're building a caring community,” Lewis said.