Award #21: G.L.A.D. Bags, a Project for Foster Children

Bridgette and Jason Jodon recently underwent the arduous process of becoming foster parents.  Having learned the intricacies of the system, they decided to not only become foster parents (hosting up to two children at once), but also to effect change in the lives of as many children in foster care as possible. Thus, their $1,000 award winning idea was born.

Their idea is simple yet profound.  They want to create a “comfort bag” for each child who is removed from a home, as opposed to a standard trash bag which is the current norm.  The Jodons will purchase as many cinch sacks as possible and fill them with necessities and objects which might bring comfort to the child during a difficult transition time. They named their project G.L.A.D. Bags, an acronym for God’s Love And Devotion and a play on words on the name of a popular trash bag The grant money will go directly to the purchase of the bags.  The Jodons will then work on stocking those bags, by asking various businesses, churches and organizations to help with the labor involved.

Bridgette explained the origins of their brainstorm: “This project was designed with the hope that this small gesture will trigger positive change in foster children’s’ lives. Over 1,500 children are in Allegheny County’s foster care system. Often times when children are removed from foster care, they are handed a trash bag for their belongings.  To me this is very unacceptable.”

She continued, “When our first placement came to us, his belongings were brought in two plastic grocery bags.  As foster parents, we were instructed to pack his belongings in case of a quick move back to his biological family, and my husband and I insisted that he not return with grocery bags.  We purchased a duffel bag for his belongings, not for the purpose of protest, but out of respect for the child.  There is a level of respect and dignity that must be integrated into this difficult process.  We want them to know that while we don’t necessarily understand what they are going through, we care, love and value each of them. We want to keep the integrity of the children intact and show them that they matter in this world.”

The Jodons currently do not have a web site specifically for the project, but Bridgette maintains a blog site (http://ifforonlyamoment.com) which she updates weekly. The blog is public and expresses her thoughts, feelings, and faith regarding her and her husband’s personal journey through foster care.

Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Carolina Pais-Barreto Beyers believes that “G.L.A.D. is remarkable initiative.  The Jodons identified a need and transformed it into an opportunity to show these children that they are valuable.  We hope that the Awesome award helps bring more awareness to this effort.”

G.L.A.D. Bags will be an on-going project. In the future, the project plans to incorporate a suitcase, duffle bag and backpack drive. Until then, the Jodons will seek donations for the contents of the bags, which include tooth paste, tooth brushes, hair brushes, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, socks, small fleece blankets, journals, pencils, small comfort toys, and luggage tags. Inquiries about the donation process can be made directly to Bridgette (bridgette.depew1 [at] verizon.net).

Come meet the Jodons and other recent $1,000 awardees at our Awesome Awards and Networking party Monday, July 29!

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