It Takes a Village
It takes a village to raise a child, and Shayna Landry and Amy LeJeune have created a village to support some of the most vulnerable children in our area. The Foster Village provides supplies such as clothing, toys, school supplies, and school uniforms, free of charge, to children placed into foster care.
When Shayna Landry was only 23 years old, she took in her first foster child, a 14-year old girl. “She moved into my home on the first day we met,” Landry says. Landry became a foster parent and immediately had to provide a home for this child, including clothes, toys, and basic belongings.
While this was an amazing experience for Landry, she admits it was not easy. In 2015, Landry was called again to be a foster parent to a newborn, whom she took in when she was a single mother.
Landry knew firsthand the needs of foster families. The needs are especially great for children who are taken out of their homes and placed immediately into care, often with little or no belongings. Upon a chance meeting after the 2016 floods, she met Amy LeJeune, who was also a mother of foster children.
Together, Shayna and Amy realized their common dedication to support foster families and children. They also discovered the large amounts of supplies they each were storing and distributing to families on their own.
“Our dream of The Foster Village was born to help meet the needs of foster families, and to help manage the growing amount of supplies that were taking over our homes,” Landry says.
The pair quickly found space, provided by the Judson Baptist Church, in Walker; however, the initial room expanded into an entire building on the church campus.
“Today, The Foster Village is designed as a safe and enjoyable place for families to come together as a community and ‘shop’ (free of charge) for the items they need for their children,” Landry explains.
Often, families will receive foster children on very short notice. Children of all ages are placed into care, and no one can truly prepare for every type of placement.
Whether a family is receiving a newborn or a teenager, The Foster Village can help support their needs. “If they find out there’s a 14-month-old baby boy on the way, we can help them secure a crib, clothes, and formula so that they can focus on bonding with their new guest,” says Landry.
For local mom, Julie Foreman, the placement of her foster child was immediate, and the child had no other belongings, except for a few pieces of clothing. While families and friends often help out, they can’t always provide everything a school-aged child needs. “The Foster Village provided us with school uniforms, even some toys and other clothing,” says Foreman.
The Foster Village is a 501(c)3 and is run completely by volunteers. The local community can support The Foster Village by volunteering or making monetary or supply donations. However, donation needs can vary and change over time, so it is important to always check their Facebook page to see what The Foster Village is currently in need of for the families. ■