Five long faithful years of walking together as a community to come around individuals and families touched by adoption. Last Wednesday, we gathered to celebrate and mark the occasion with many dear friends who've been there from the beginning and new ones too. We had a band and a birthday cake and somehow convinced our Executive Director to jump up front on the microphone to share a few words. They were so dear, so I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to hear from her....
So it’s a little overwhelming to be able to stand up here in front of all of you and being celebrating FIVE YEARS of Adoption Support Alliance.
I don’t know how many of you saw June’s newsletter- but I really meant it when I talked about all the efforts that were required to get the organization to this point. The most important person – without which this organization wouldn’t have happened- is our co-founder, Charlie Marquardt. ASA started on the back of a napkin after Charlie and I basically lost our jobs in the adoption field and took the opportunity to dream about what was needed to serve adoptive families.
I would also like to recognize our former board members and current board members. These guys are my constant cheerleaders and dedicate time and their talents to the organization- thank you!
And, the leaders of this event tonight- Mary Kulp, our newest staff member. She is the mastermind behind our birthday party! She’s only been here since January but I have come to rely on her more than I can put into words. Thanks, Mary.
She has also brought us Jeremy and the guys from Brother Watts- haven’t they been awesome! And Adam Dyer, also an adoptive parent, from Tarheel Promotions for the fabulous shirts. You, too, can be the owner of one for $10- keep an eye out on our website for a chance to purchase one or save the date for our next community building event where they'll always be on sale.
And, our volunteer chair for our Anniversary Auction, Beth Stewart. She spent hours soliciting donations, updating the auction website and helping us to spread the word about it. Thank you, Beth, for allowing ASA to benefit from your time and expertise. Beth’s efforts helped Adoption Support Alliance to raise over $3,000!
WHERE WE HAVE BEEN
Here are some stats for you. Since the organization was established in June 2014, we have:
· Offered 19 “Adoption 101” classes to 81 families
· Offered 6 “Race, Culture & Adoption” classes to 29 families as an organization and partnered with Carolina Adoption Services to host the class in Raleigh and Greensboro to probably 40 additional families.
· We began hosting a support group in January 2015 and, with the exception of some time off for the summer, we have continued those groups for the last 4 ½ years. Now, we offer four ongoing groups- two for parents and two for adoptees. We estimate we’ve served over 40 individuals in our support groups over the years.
· We began our counseling program in August 2015 with one client. We stayed with just one client for a little while (they were a brave and gracious family). In August 2016, we moved into our office space in Elizabeth, which allowed us to expand. In 2017, the counseling program began to grow and can confidently say that the organization has provided 266 hours of adoption-competent therapy. We grew by 25% in 2018 and have already grown by 30% this year and it’s only June. We are so grateful to have been able to connect with, support and encourage all members of the adoption triad through our counseling program.
· These events- community building events- are at the heart of what we do. We’ve been hosted by breweries for beer and parks for playing across town to create a time of connection and hopefully fun for adoptive families.
· We’ve also gathered to share stories in an intentional way- we have organized four panels of the past five years that have consisted of brave and gracious adult adoptees telling their stories – what their parents did well, what they wish they had done differently.
· Our community loved these events so much that we were inspired to start a podcast along with Myrlene Mondesir (who just had a baby and could not be here with us) to share other stories of adoption triad members with the community.
So… that’s a lot. And, I’m very proud of where we have been. But, we have a lot more that we want to do in the next five years!
WHERE WE ARE GOING
One of the big projects the board has tackled in 2019 is working through a strategic plan for the organization. Let me tell you guys, when this group gets together (really any time we’ve had a board meeting in the last five years) we have to work hard to stay focused on the task at hand because there is so much passion in the room for adoptive families and so many ideas for classes to offer or events to hold or ways that we can connect with people. Our board members really believe in what this organization is working to accomplish and put their all behind it- it is inspiring and encouraging.
We, as a board, will continue to work to finalize our strategic plan over the next several months. Once it is complete we will be sure to share it with you in its entirety. In the meantime, feel free to let us know how we can better serve you.
Some of the things we are already considering include:
· a package of classes that takes a family from the beginning of the adoption process through placement.
· classes offered online to eliminate concerns about child care or distance to the office.
· Fundraisers that are fun and build community while also earning money for the organization.
· Building stronger partnerships with agencies that are already in existence in the Charlotte community.
Like I said, we are not at a loss for ideas we just need the time, people and resources to execute. So, we invite you to join us in furthering our mission of supporting adoptive families by donating, participating in our fall photography fundraiser on October 20th, sharing about our services on social media, hosting a community event for adoptive families or volunteering your time and talents to plan other fundraisers or events for the organization.
----Erin Nasmyth, Executive Director
We are truly grateful to serve individuals and families touched by adoption. We count it a privilege and joy. Thank you for entrusting us with your stories. Here's to many more years together!