We were lucky to catch up with Missy Bell recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Missy thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?
Missy- Churches have been a source of community support for centuries. While certainly there are plenty of news articles that share otherwise, there are many that are committed to loving their neighbor. I have the privilege of mobilizing churches to care for at-risk and vulnerable youth through my job at Olive Crest and have seen churches step up in miraculous ways to care for foster youth. This past summer, the County of San Diego came to us at Olive Crest and asked if churches would want to help support the families that are in their care. Without hesitation we said, absolutely! We called our friends at Restoration225, a faith based organization that wraps foster/kinship families in support, to help call churches in our networks to care for County foster families. This was the beginnings of Faith in Motion, a collaborative of county workers, pastors, and churches to care for foster families that are serving through the County. We now have over 20 churches all across San Diego that have said yes to joining this movement of compassion.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Missy- The work of Olive Crest is near to my heart because my life was forever changed when my family said yes to me. I was adopted at birth and have a wonderful family who love and care for me. Olive Crest is an organization that believes in the healing power of God, family, and community. In San Diego we have two programs, a family preservation program called Safe Families for Children and our foster care program. We journey alongside those that want to become foster families, help them through the application process, and ultimately help children find a home. We also mobilize the community to care for these foster families by wrapping them in tangible, emotional, and spiritual support. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and I believe churches saying yes to building a ministry that serves foster families and at-risk youth is one of the best ways we can care for vulnerable children. This is the reason why I am excited to help facilitate alongside R225, Faith in Motion.
How do you keep your team’s morale high?
Missy- Faith in Motion is a collaborative of county workers and pastors/ministry leaders. These two groups of people come from backgrounds that could not be more different! Language, culture, yearly calendar, is all different! I consider myself a culture broker because of my years on church staff I can speak church language and know the ebbs and flows of a church calendar. Working at Olive Crest, I know the intricacies of a nonprofit and navigating county guidelines. I consider myself a culture broker that help the churches and county workers understand some of the nuances that we may not be able to articulate, but are certainly felt. This only happens though by relationship. Getting to know one another, taking the time to sit across from each other and hearing their stories and learning each others ‘why’ is so important. I also try to make it an equal opportunity for jokes and address complexities through humor. The work that we do is hard and humor is so important!
Other than training/knowledge, what do you think is most helpful for succeeding in your field?
Missy- Excellence and heart. People want to know that you care and that you’ll follow through with what you say you are going to do. Excellence is the currency in this work that is often perceived as slow. We know that there are kids and families on the line if we don’t do our work with excellence. Most foster families will only say yes to one foster placement because it’s hard! But if we’re able to wrap them in support through the work of Faith in Motion, or a Care Community, or a church’s ministry, then they will be 80% more likely to take a second placement. We don’t want foster families barely making it, we want them to thrive.