Foster parents inspire volunteers at Arizona Helping Hands

It is so very sad to think of children growing up in the care of adults who put their needs and wants first.

It’s almost unimaginable to think of a home environment where mom would send her children out of the home to find their own food, and even their own place to sleep to satisfy her personal needs – for a dose of something she thinks will bring her happiness, either through ingesting something to make her feel better, or to satisfy a craving with a man.

Arizona Helping Hands

Volunteers prepare items at Arizona Helping Hands in Scottsdale.

We met a family recently at Arizona Helping Hands that brought our entire staff to tears.

We heard the story of a man and woman who survived a similar upbringing, but wanted to make life different for their children, to break the chain and show their kids that life can be better, indeed, that children can be better than their parents.

Raising three kids, they’ve created a supportive, loving home environment, with emphasis on school and family. Life was not easy, but it was good, that is until it became even more complicated.

The call came in from the Department of Child Safety caseworker: “We have custody of your 8-, 9-, 10- and 11-year-old nieces and nephews – what do you want us to do?”

Unike the household of this young couple, these four kids were raised in a lifestyle that repeated the sins of the parents. The children were told to find a place to sleep so that mom could bed down with different men, so that she could score another hit to tide her over. The kids were left to fend for themselves, having witnessed behavior that would send chills down any true parents’ back.

Yet, despite being aware of all they would need to overcome, aunt and uncle decided to open their hearts and their home to four additional children in need. Seven kids, one vehicle, lots of challenging situations, all for the sake of saving these kids, of proving that life can be better.

Dan Shufelt (Arizona Helping Hands)

When aunt and uncle arrived at AHH with a U-Haul trailer attached to their SUV they shared their story. They shared how much it meant to have beds for these kids to sleep in. When we asked them if they would say a few words in a video testimonial, mom started crying, saying she was way too overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to talk on camera. Crying over something as simple as a safe place to sleep for four little boys and girls.

I love that we can provide children a haven, a spot of refuge from the ugliness of life that prevails in some quarters. I love that we can offer a glimmer of hope to heroes such as this aunt and uncle, who despite the adversity they have experienced haven’t abandoned the notion that love can overcome, that lessons can be learned, that we can all make life better for those who come after us, that we don’t have to repeat errors of the past.

Thank you to this brave couple for choosing to #StandUp and Make a Difference for kids in need. You truly are an inspiration and each one of us at Arizona Helping Hands is better for having met.

Editor’s note: Dan Shufelt is executive director at Arizona Helping Hands in Scottsdale. AHH provides essential needs to kids in foster care. The Birthday Dreams program provides personalized birthday packages to children in foster care through their 18th birthday. Visit Contact Dan Shufelt at

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