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Meet Andrea Barclay of Because One Matters

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Barclay.

Andrea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The Desire: In 1990, after the loss of my daughter, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), I realized that the extension of my parenting journey could continue through the lives of others. My desire to be an adoptive parent introduced me to this new world, but the process was tedious, littered with lots of red tape, and extremely frustrating. Although at the time, I did not move forward with completing the process due to these challenges, the desire still remained a flame that just needed to be stoked at the right time in my life.

In 2013, the desire to do something in the fostering community returned stronger than ever, and at the time, I believed it was to be a foster parent. I shared my interest to foster children with family and friends and most were very supportive. One friend, in particular, knew my heart, and in knowing me, suggested I pray and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit before moving forward. He was concerned that I would not want to let go in the event of reunification. After some reflection on these comments, I realized he was correct.

The Prompt: On November 11, 2013, the flame that continued to burn in my heart began to blaze when my pastor made a statement in his message and I felt that God was speaking to me directly. He said, “when you think about what you can’t do, it distracts you from what you can do.” Instantly I realized that while I might not be ready to be a foster parent (right now), there was still something that I could do…

Taking Action: In December of 2013, I sent an email to all my friends and family asking them to assist me in sponsoring a “foster child” for Christmas. I asked everyone to donate at least $5 and that I would match up to $100 collected. The response was tremendous; I was able to purchase everything on my “Angel” wish list ($400).

The Prompt: God then prompted me that I needed to do more. This led me to a coordinator at DFACS. During our first meeting, I shared my desire to serve foster kids. After this initial meeting, we worked together to organize a carnival in May 2014 to celebrate National Foster Care Month. I then shared my vision to host quarterly birthday parties for foster kids. I learned that a lot of these kids’ situation has been so unstable that they have never had a birthday party, it was my desire to ensure that every foster child in Gwinnett County did have that experience. I later read an article on how often times kids are moved from home to home and have no personal items to take with them, and those that do, their belongings are often stuff in a garbage bag. I wanted to change that, so I decided that not only will I host a birthday party, but I would ensure every child gets a book bag and a personal gift. The book bag, not intended for school, is for them to keep their most precious items, so that if/when they are moved to another location, they can take it with them. I have no idea where God is leading me with this journey but I am pumped up and ready to follow his lead.

The Journey Continues: In 2014, I said that I had no idea where God was leading me with this journey, but whatever he asked I would do. Well, my next prompt was to host birthday parties for foster kids in each and every county in Georgia. This is a huge task, but I know that with God’s help, we can do it.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has not been smooth (as I thought it would be), but so far, I have appreciated every bump, because with each bump the desire to do more as it relates to foster kids gets even stronger. Our biggest challenge (which could equate to obstacles) is having the funds (or supplies) needed to support our mission.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Because One Matters story. Tell us more about the business.
Because One Matters (BOMs) is dedicated to creating lasting memories for children in foster care by ensuring that each child feels loved and wanted. We do this within three programs:

Our organization began with birthday parties. Foster kids get a lot of support during the holidays, but they are pretty much forgotten about the rest of the year. God prompted me to do birthday parties. I know for my family birthdays are important – it’s the day you were born and should be celebrated. Some people might say that they have never had a party, and they are fine. But for these kids celebrating their birthday is just another way to show them that while their life might be upside down right now that they are loved and that we care about. Again, it’s about creating lasting memories (positive ones).

Home for the Holidays (H4H): We partnered with an organization called YESS (Youth Empowerment Support Services) to provide support to youths who are transitioning out of foster care. We do this by providing a full-course meals for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition to meals, we also provide Christmas tree, decorations and a gift from their wish list.

Soothing the Soul: Children entering the foster care system often leave home without the items they value, like their favorite teddy bear, blanket and other personal items. Children are placed into care while at school and do not have the opportunity to return home prior to being placed into care. In other cases, children are placed into the care at twilight evening hours and are rushed to pack limited contents into garbage bags before heading to foster care. We believe that Georgia’s children should be greeted with the love and dignity of a care package that they can call their own when they enter the foster care system. Therefore, our organization works to provide children entering foster care with a duffle bag containing essential items to increase comfort and security during their earliest days of placement.

I am most proud that we are making a difference in the lives of the kids we serve. It’s a great feeling being out to dinner when you see a foster child and they recognize you (relationship building) and say hello. Or hear from a foster parent how much the child loved their birthday gift or appreciated the duffle bag.

There are several other organizations that serve foster kids (which is great). I think what sets us apart is the relationship we have with the kids and foster parents. We deal directly with the kids and their foster parents, so they know us. We deliver our duffle bags directly to the parents (versus delivering it to an agency to be distributed to foster parents). In doing this, it’s our goal that we will continue to build a relationship with the kids and foster parents and hopefully find more ways to make a difference in their lives (creating lasting memories).

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t believe in luck (good or bad). I believe everything I do as it relates to BOMs is God’s doing. I might be the President of BOMs on paper, but God is the true leader of this organization. We don’t do anything without first seeking His guidance. He is steering this ship. This is also true for my life. God is always first.

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