Our Foster Parents
To give you a sense of who our foster parents are, we'd like to share some of their stories. First up, meet Ms Iris Strickland!
There has always been a need to provide substitute care to children who cannot live with their own parents. Foster parents are an important part of the system. They function primarily as substitute parents. Everyone, including the child, recognizes that the foster parents are not the child’s “real” parents, nor do they intend to be. The foster or resource parents provide the basics that every child needs and deserves, including food, shelter, a safe environment, discipline, patience, and love.
Greater Valley has a diverse group of dedicated foster parents, and we appreciate all of them. This month, we would like our one foster parents, Ms. Iris Strickland, the opportunity to introduce herself and tell of her experience with Greater Valley’s Foster care program.
Meet Ms Iris Strickland
Iris is one of the many wonderful foster parents in our program. Ms. Strickland has used her past to influence children to stay on the right course in life. She has and will continue to be an amazing resource for children that come into her home. We asked Ms Strickland to share a little bit about her background as well as experience becoming a foster parent with Greater Valley. Read Below!
"As a native of New Kensington, PA, I have never allowed my life’s events to stunt my personal growth or distort my identity. I am a product of a bi-racial marriage that was created in the 1960’s, and that union of my parents has taught me the harsh realities of life and reminds me life is not black and white, but there are gray areas. The youngest daughter of what my mother referred to as “the Tribe”, I am the runt of the bunch. However, my beloved mother never allowed me to feel inferior to my siblings or society. She always reminded me to Stand Tall and never bow down to the pressures of my siblings, life’s failures, or society’s stigma due to my mixed heritage. Today, I am the Victor. I have lived through being a runaway which led to me being homeless, the penal system, the many acts of harsh domestic violence, rape, and finally the battle to live as I fought breast cancer with a vengeance, and while I simultaneously mourned my beloved mother’s sudden and unexpected passing.
Through my life experiences I am able to stand firm on a foundation and provide care and the ability fiercely advocate for those around me that may not have a voice. Each day I wake up asking God to allow me to touch and change lives. I am afforded this special opportunity to accomplish this through being a mother, Honey, an author, an advocate, a protector, a caretaker, and a foster mother. I try daily to remind myself that life changes when you are given the opportunity to make the change. While caring for so many is stressful and sometimes discouraging, I find that self-care and an amazing support system gives me the tools I need to be successful.
You think you know me, but I will show you at last
Listen, to the sound as I shatter every piece of glass
The broken shards will not phase me or make me bleed at all,
one thing you never knew, I see may self as 6' tall
Oh, you still can't see me, take a step closer to hear
You hear the sound of walls rumbling in your ear
LISTEN you hear my walls coming down
Come closer if you dare to take a good look around
Now I'll disrobe and show you my life and all it has to bare
Don't turn away come closer if you dare
The scars that mark me both inside and out are right there
I'm taking off my mask and leaving you without a doubt
I am a Queen
A Warrior ready to battle
Can you handle the truth now that I stand naked and proud
I stepped into the light for the world to see
What you thought you knew about me
Now, don't be blind it was only what I allowed you to see
We must all "Unmask" to heal.
Finally, I am currently a foster mother for Greater Valley Community Services. As a certified foster parent, I am family who raised my hand to stand and be accountable for youth placed in the Allegheny County CYS. The level of support I have received and currently receive goes far above and beyond the call of duty. Phone calls answered in the middle of the night, emergency visits words of encouragement and prayers have been given freely and without rebuff. My experience with all staff has been professional and courteous; it’s difficult to find adequate words to express my deepest gratitude to Greater Valley Community Services family, I can only bow my head and pay homage to the entire family. "