As of October 2019, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services lists 9,761 Kentucky children in active foster placements. And although each foster care family receives a per diem rate for fostering, the cost of clothing for many of the children does not factor into the rate.
Amanda Van Bussum, Tina Hurm, Amanda Simmonds and Scarlett Goodman know this all too well. All of the women are either currently or have fostered children, and each knows the struggle with clothing foster children who often don’t have more than a backpack of clothing when they arrive at a foster home.
So, when Van Bussum joined a Facebook group for foster parents, she met Sarah Gough who had started Borrowed Hearts Foundation, a clothing closet nonprofit for foster families in Evansville, Ind. that now has sister store locations in Terre Haute, Ind. and Vincennes, Ind.
Gough had been a foster parent for six years and had noticed that kids were often coming to her with the wrong sized clothing or inappropriate clothing, so she began trading clothes with other foster moms. Realizing the need for this service for other foster families, in November 2015, Gough started Borrowed Hearts. Since then, the clothing closet has moved twice, each time to a larger space.
The services offered in Evansville include clothing, hygiene needs, a meal program and a car seat lending program. Last year, Borrowed Hearts served over 1,700 foster children.
“We connect families with resources,” Gough said. “And we continue to support foster families.”
When Gough met Van Bussum in the online group, the two discussed the need for a store like Borrowed Hearts in Owensboro. Gough knew the area needed it and Van Bussum had been talking to other foster moms about trading clothing.
Simmonds said she was already doing something similar out of her garage with foster families, so when Van Bussum approached her, she was on board with the clothing closet.
Van Bussum talked to Hurm and Goodman as well. Goodman was already friends with Gough and often went to Borrowed Hearts in Evansville to help with her foster children.
Conversations began in August and as soon as they green-lighted the project with Gough, the first thing the group knew they needed was a location for Borrowed Hearts.
Hurm, whose husband works for Don Moore Automotive asked Don Moore if he knew of a place for the nonprofit and pretty quickly, Don Moore Automotive became the first corporate sponsor by donating their Second Street collision center as the building to house Borrowed Hearts.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” Hurm said of Don, David and John Moore.
Since securing the building, the families have been putting in many hours getting the building ready for its clients. Families along with volunteers from school service organizations and friends have been painting rooms and cleaning floors along with sorting donations.
The four women said the community has been so supportive in helping to get Borrowed Hearts opened for foster families, but the work is not over.
They are currently looking for an attorney to help them become a separate Borrowed Hearts with a separate tax identification number so that when they apply for grants, they are not restricted because another Borrowed Hearts has applied for the same grant.
In-kind donations are also needed for some minor renovations and cleaning up the building.
“In order to open, we are in need of more corporate sponsors,” Hurm said.
Having sponsors will allow the different rooms to open and serve local foster families. Currently, there is a need for hanging racks, paint to get the rooms ready and new hygiene items for families as well as new socks and underwear.
The community has generously begun donating clothing and volunteers are filling the existing racks to get ready for their early December opening.
Although Owensboro’s Borrowed Hearts is not officially open, they can serve families now — and have been.
“We love working together,” Hurm said of the relationship between the four women who have spent many hours getting Borrowed Hearts ready for the community.
The partners hope to implement the same programs as the sister stores, but for now they are accepting gently-worn, appropriate clothing in any size, shoes, baby equipment, bicycles and strollers and backpacks. New hygiene products and socks and underwear are also requested, along with baby items – wipes, toiletries and formula.
They plan to cooperate with local organizations to partner with items they can’t use but others can and vice versa.
“Having a co-op will help everyone,” Van Bussum said.
Evansville’s Borrowed Hearts is open 180-200 hours a month, and the women said the Second Street location is of comparable size.
“This will be a huge help for foster families,” Hurm said. “To have a clothes closet and hygiene bank.”
Van Bussum said that one of their primary reasons for opening the store is finding a way for the community to help.
“Not all are called to foster but are called to help,” Van Bussum said. “This is a vehicle for them — it will allow people to help.”
Eligibility guidelines are listed on the Borrowed Hearts Owensboro Facebook page, which also includes the current needs.
For those interested in a financial donation, an in-kind donation, or volunteering individually or with a service organization, contact Borrowed Hearts Owensboro through their Facebook page as well.
Borrowed Hearts is located at 1705 W. 2nd St.