Carmen Todd knows how it feels to grow up without a stable home and loving family. As a teenager in foster care, she often felt like the ?bad? kid nobody wanted. Long ago, Carmen promised herself she would show children in foster care they are loved and celebrated.
Today, she is fulfilling her promise as a foster parent.
?It?s the most humbling and rewarding thing I?ve ever done, and I could not be happier,? Carmen said. ?I have fostered nine children since 2015, and each child will always be part of my family.?
A heart for teens
The Upbring Foster In Texas team is always looking for opportunities to partner with compassionate people who want to become foster parents in Texas, especially those who want to foster teens and siblings. Carmen has stepped up and helped fill the need in her community.
In addition to her teenage biological son and two daughters, Carmen?s family includes five teenage boys in foster care.
Four of the boys are brothers who, because of Carmen, have the chance to live together for the first time in 10 years.
?I try to be the person for them that I always wanted in my life as a teenager in foster care,? Carmen said. ?In return, it fills my heart with joy to see their life paths change before my eyes.?
Fostering is a journey that can make a life-changing impact on a child. But as a single mother with a career, it was a journey Carmen wasn?t sure she could take. For many years, she supported our foster parents and their children as a generous donor and volunteer.
Both paths offer powerful opportunities to make a difference, but Carmen?s passion for doing more never faded.
?One day, I called Upbring and said, ?I have to give fostering a shot before I get too old,?? Carmen laughed. ?Seven months later, I was licensed.?
Carmen knows other Texans have thought about fostering a child or supporting families who do, but they have not taken the first step. If that sounds familiar, she would love to see you in Killeen on June 30.
Bell County Cares
Carmen serves as a Killeen sales manager for CenturyLink.
When the company?s regional manager asked employees for suggestions on its next philanthropic endeavor, Carmen recommended a fundraiser for the children and families served by Upbring Foster In Texas.
The Bell County Cares Foster Family Benefit on June 30 will feature artists, vendors and resale booths for shoppers to enjoy. There will also be performances from local kids? programs, music by United States All Star DJs and child-friendly activities.
Stacie Campbell, Area Director of the Upbring Foster In Texas Austin office, said the event proceeds will help Upbring surround foster families and their children with services that meet the full spectrum of their needs.
?I cannot quantify what it means to our foster families when their communities come alongside them,? Stacie said. ?The funds will help us deliver benefits such as training, respite care, family outings and assistance with hygiene products, clothing, school supplies and other much-needed items for the children in our care. We are so grateful to everyone who played a role in making this event happen.?
Much of the thanks goes to Carmen. She has spent countless hours recruiting vendors, booking entertainment, garnering sponsor support and promoting the event.
Carmen said finding time to manage the event?s many logistics wasn?t easy. Still, it was important because of that promise she made to herself so long ago.
?I understand the hard reality of a child going into a stranger?s home. It can be abrupt and traumatic,? Carmen said. ?So often, children need not only the stability of a family, but also other services that help them heal from their pasts and look to the future with hope.?
For the five teenage boys who call Carmen ?mom,? it is a future that includes anything they can dream of, thanks to Carmen?s unending love and support.