Together in Care
In 2021, St. Mark Ev. Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI got wind of an exciting new way to make a difference in their community. The Foster Support program had caught their eye, and they couldn't wait to get involved! More than 10 passionate individuals signed up to volunteer, forming a team with a shared goal of making a positive impact.
Since then, the team has been working tirelessly to support foster families in their area. They're making a real difference in people's lives! Nancy Bieberitz, leader of the team, has been instrumental in organizing activities at St. Mark and providing ongoing support to a local single foster mom. When Nancy first met the mom, she found that her oven and dishwasher were broken, which was a huge obstacle for a busy single mom with four kids. Within weeks, Nancy was able to coordinate with the other volunteers to fix the oven and raise funds for the dishwasher to be replaced! Members of the team now take turns bringing a meal to this family on Mondays and are exploring the possibility of connecting the kids to other volunteers for some individual mentoring or family fun.
Serving on the Foster Support team has been an incredibly rewarding experience for Nancy. She's always had a special place in her heart for foster kids, but she knew that fostering herself wasn't the right fit for her family. When she heard about the program, she thought to herself, "I can do that!" And she was right—it's been an amazing opportunity for her to come alongside others, offering support in ways that enable foster parents to be the best parents they can be.
For Nancy, one of the best parts of serving with the Foster Support Team has been the chance to be a "safe adult" for kids in care. Children who've experienced the foster care system often feel that adults aren't trustworthy or that they might be hurt by them. But by being a safe and reliable presence in these kids' lives, Nancy and the team are showing them that there are people who care and who are there to help them heal from their trauma. Nancy isn’t the only one in her family that serves with the Foster Support program. Her husband, Dan, and daughter, Josie, are also volunteers with the program!
"Volunteering has helped focus my prayers for my daughters...that their hearts would not be broken by hardships, but will be big enough to see those challenges as an opportunity to share their faith."
When Josie heard that the program needed someone to play tennis with a teen girl in care, she jumped at the chance to get involved. Although the connection didn't work out, she brought her desire to serve back to Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN, and invited other students to join her. These students have helped a few foster families in the area with childcare and light housecleaning, and Josie even washes the floor at one family's home regularly. These small acts of kindness may seem insignificant, but they mean the world to the foster mom and give her the mental and physical space she needs to care for the kids in her home.
Nancy and Dan Bieberitz
Another Foster Support team leader, Theresa Hefti, has coordinated support around a single foster mom since October 2021. For the Heftifamily, this has meant welcoming a preteen boy in care into their own home for family activities and outings. He has also accompanied the oldest Hefti child to youth group activities at St. Mark. When the foster mom needed some painting done in her home, Theresa was able to coordinate with Dan Bieberitz (Nancy’s husband) to make it happen—highlighting the benefit of a team working together within the church. Even with her busy schedule, Theresa makes a point of checking in with the foster mom regularly and sending her words of encouragement to let her know she's not alone.
It is noteworthy that neither of the foster families connected to the team currently has a church home. The volunteers consistently demonstrate the love of Jesus in their words and actions. The foster volunteers have brought the Church to these families by serving them. And now, the volunteers are inviting these families to church. Only God knows at this point what seeds are being planted in the hearts of the foster parents and the kids in their care; we trust Him to use our gifts of service in His way and His time.
Love in action as Foster Support volunteers prepare lunch for the Valentine Bash at St. Mark.
The team at St. Mark demonstrates an attitude of “whatever it takes,” finding creative ways to serve local foster families. A key element of this is the growing relationship with Eau Claire County’s Alternate Care Team. When a need arises—either for an individual family or for help with a county-run activity, the county worker reaches out to Rachel Binczak, Kingdom Workers, Foster Support Coordinator, and Regional Lead. Through various initiatives such as constructing playsets, coordinating school supply drives, and hosting a Kids' Valentine Bash, the team has become a valuable resource in the community. Their recent event welcomed children in foster care for a day of fun Christ-centered activities, providing caregivers with much-needed child-free time.
A total of fourteen children from five families attended the event, most of whom had no previous contact with the church or the foster support team. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with both the caregivers and volunteers asking when the next event would be held!
Foster Support volunteers with Rachel Binczak (second from the right) serving families within their community through building projects
This team is a shining example of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. They embody the belief that "everyone can do something" and showcase how God has blessed each person with unique gifts and talents that can be used in service to others. Their efforts demonstrate the beauty of working together to achieve a common goal, and they serve as a testimony to the power of Christ's love in action. With humility, compassion, and hearts full of love, they embody what it means to be a Kingdom Worker. We are truly blessed to have such volunteers who so clearly demonstrate the value of discipleship and inspire others to serve out of love for Christ.