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Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #54 – Please Volunteer

Ron Reigns:
Welcome. And thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into adoption issues from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 3:
Do what’s best for your kid and yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 4:
I know that my daughter will be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 5:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 6:
All I could think about was me needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the Executive Director, President, and Co-Founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign creator. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies and Human Development and a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on School Counseling. I was adopted at three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns; I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Volunteers matter, Ron.

Ron Reigns:
That’s a fact. Look it up.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Volunteers, I think, are in a lot of ways the cornerstone of society. The whole premise of giving back and paying it forward and doing things without expecting or wanting something in return is, in essence, the true meaning of humankind foundations, like the Donna K. Evans Foundation, need volunteers more than people think. It’s not just the acts of service, but the philosophy, the thought, and the caring behind the actions.

Ron Reigns:
Well, I’m a big proponent of not government intervention of things to help our society, more of our society volunteering, whether locally, statewide, or nationally. We, as citizens, are the ones that are supposed to take on that mantle, not the government.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Agreed, 100%. When people take the time and volunteer, the clients who are recipients of that service can benefit in so many ways from their knowledge, skillset, and how they feel that somebody does care about me, who doesn’t even know who I am. And before the moment they stepped into the foundation’s office had never seen me before, but yet they care enough about what I’ve done and what I’m doing with my adoption plan that they showed up.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I think showing up is such a big deal. It’s being present, being in that moment. For families who are adopting, volunteering is a great way to pay it forward. Even as you’re waiting, that’s something that you can do on a positive note. Volunteering benefits the foundation; it helps the volunteer as well.

Ron Reigns:
It’s not just for the recipient.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, it’s not. You feel better about yourself. You shared a story with me about a donation, and I’d love for you to share it with the listeners, a gift that you and your wife did at Christmas. Do you mind sharing that?

Ron Reigns:
No, not at all. We had, I don’t even know how Lisa came about this, my wife, she found it, I believe, on the Nextdoor app. And somebody was saying, “We don’t have something this Christmas.” And so, she started looking into this and found out several people didn’t have propane to heat their homes or their mobile homes or whatever they were living in. “We don’t have propane for Christmas.” So, she took four of these people, gave them a call, and we went down to the store and got propane and then gave them each 50 bucks and said, “I hope this helps your Christmas a little bit.” And then one of them. I mean, well, one, she was just practically bawling because we weren’t doing it because we knew her. We weren’t doing it because it was just the right thing to do. And it did, it made us feel good, and that’s not why we did it, but it’s like, “Wow, we helped somebody have a better Christmas than they would’ve, maybe a little warmer.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. I think the feeling good part is essential because it will encourage you to keep doing that.

Ron Reigns:
Indeed, and it does, it feels good. But I didn’t want to do it for selfish reasons. It’s like, there are people out there who. We’ve been very blessed, especially in the past few years. I mean, we struggled for a long time to get to this point, but it’s like, wait, we should spread this around and say, “Let’s give back to the community. Some people who need it right now and are struggling.” And the one lady, had a kid in the back seat and, oh, just adorable. It brings tears to my eyes. Because as he was looking back at us, putting the propane in the back of their car, he’s like, “Merry Christmas.” And it was just the sweetest darn thing. And yeah, it does feel good. It does.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And those are acts of volunteering. Volunteering doesn’t have to be going and spending five hours somewhere. It can be bringing somebody propane or bringing a gallon of gas to somebody who is stranded on the freeway, or it can be working in a soup kitchen, or there are so many things that you can do, and foundations that are out there need help. They need volunteers. Please be one. Think about this.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In volunteering, you can make connections that create new career opportunities for you. You can make new friends and learn skillsets from other people who volunteer. It can give you more purpose. People who retire sometimes say, “Well, I have nothing to do all day.” Find a foundation and jump in, find something that you believe in and-

Ron Reigns:
Something close to your heart.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I think that people aren’t aware that with our foundation, you can volunteer, and there are things you can do from your home. You don’t even have to come into the office. There are mail-outs you can do; there are so many things that you can do without ever leaving your house. And you can still make a huge impact and a huge difference.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
When somebody comes and is interested in volunteering, they don’t realize that even the little things matter so much, and we’re grateful, and the clients who benefit are thankful. I grew up in a family that was a huge proponent of volunteering. My mother did not work for the first, maybe eight, ten years of my life. And even after that, when she started working, she was an art docent. So she would go down, go through all these training classes, and do tours through the art museum. And that, it was called an art docent, and she was not paid; it was a volunteer thing. She liked to educate people on art. My dad was-

Ron Reigns:
And it was, again, something she felt passionate for, and it’s like-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, I would watch her studying the cards and learning about the paintings. And my dad is a volunteer now on the Midway, down in San Diego, and gives tours. He was in the Navy. And so, this is his way of volunteering. And he goes and offers tours around the Midway and loves it. So, what was always ingrained in me was volunteer volunteering.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So when I was in college, I knew I wanted something to do with labor and delivery. And something kept drawing me to it. So, I lived in the ASU dorm, and I walked to St. Luke’s Hospital. And I would volunteer there as a freshman. And I did everything from being a volunteer in the emergency room to labor and delivery.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, I watched my first labor and delivery, obviously, at a young age. I was 18-19. And the nurses knew that I was interested, so they would always push me in the rooms when it was happening. And I remember thinking, “Wow. Yeah. Okay.” And it was an eye-opening experience. And then in labor and delivery, I mean, in the emergency room, I learned so much. I mean, just everything from what to do if you step on the glass to the fact that you don’t need to go to the emergency room if you have an ear infection, although some people do. But depending on how bad it is, of course, a doctor can take care of that as well.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But, I learned all kinds of things, and it taught me, I think, a lot of things that made me who I am today. Another thing that I did was I would work in soup kitchens. So, I think that it is essential. And in our children, I try to model and instill those values.

Ron Reigns:
And I can see it in your children. They’re very selfless when it comes to other people; they look out for other people.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Emma.

Ron Reigns:
I didn’t know if you wanted to say her name or not.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, it’s okay.

Ron Reigns:
Emma looks out for kids who have a stricter time and maybe get bullied a little bit, and she stands up for them. And I think that’s awesome.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
She does. And she takes it even a step further. And she volunteers at a soup kitchen down in South Phoenix.

Ron Reigns:
Does she? Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. And as a mom of a 17-year-old, there’s a lot of safety precautions in place. But yeah, she frequently volunteers down there.

Ron Reigns:
I’m sure you’re very proud of it, but South Phoenix, if you’re not from Arizona or the Phoenix area, is not the safest of neighborhoods. So, I could understand a little bit of trepidation there.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We keep her safe.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. Good for you. Good.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And she also is. Her blood type is O, and she is also a blood donor and donates blood at her school functions every opportunity. And she believes in paying it forward. And so, she’s the oldest one that can go out and do these things. So, hopefully, our others will follow suit, but-
You’ve set a good example. She’s continuing that example. And then the younger ones, as they get to that age, will also. It’s a great legacy.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And it’s important to me. And even with our agency and our foundation, we will have them help us assemble media packets at home or things like that because I want them to understand that we are blessed. And when you’re blessed, I believe that you need to bless others.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that’s an important, big deal. I think that people are, in nature, good. I believe the common feedback I get when I say, “Hey, you want volunteers. I’m really busy. I don’t have a lot of time. So I don’t really know where to begin. And I don’t know if I can get into all that, I want to overcome it. I don’t want to commit to something and not be able to follow through. So it’s just better I do nothing at all.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And what they don’t realize is it can be something from; what does your foundation need right now? Like right now, we are always in need of GED study guides. We have a lot of women who did not graduate from high school. And one of my best friends in the world is a librarian. And she has single-handedly been funding these GRE books.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. Every time I’ve needed a book, I called her, and she sent me a shipment from Amazon.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, that’s fantastic.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It is. But I wish it wasn’t just one person. Because at some point, she’s going to say, “Okay.”

Ron Reigns:
Enough is enough.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And so, if somebody wants to post on their social media page, “Hey, here’s an organization, they’re looking for car seats. Or they’re looking for GRE study guides,” that is like $14 to $17 apiece.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
“Can you just send one?” And if everybody would just send one, then-

Ron Reigns:
It would make a huge difference.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It would make a huge difference. Last week, we had a maternity closet on site, and a lot of the women we work with are homeless and come to us and don’t have clothes that fit them. And it’s heartbreaking to watch somebody come in off the street, and the clothes don’t work, and they can’t even button their pants because their stomach has already started showing the pregnancy.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, what I did last Saturday as I took our oldest son was Goodwill’s half-off day. And I had a shopping cart. It was over the top in terms of maternity clothes because we haven’t gotten enough maternity clothing donations. And I keep thinking, if people knew the need, I think they would rise to the occasion.

Ron Reigns:
I think they would step up. Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I mean, what do you do with your old maternity clothes?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, the most common questions that I get are, “Can I volunteer from home?” Yes. We have tons of things you can do. “Well, what if I only have a few hours a week? Is that worth it?”

Ron Reigns:
If you have a few minutes, then-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Post something.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Post something. Post something on yours. Post a link-

Ron Reigns:
On Facebook.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
On Facebook, say, “Hey, check this out.” “Well, what if I don’t have it have any special skills? What can I offer?” People don’t realize; you do have-

Ron Reigns:
We all have gifts.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
You do. And again, if it’s just posting something, if it’s talking to your church about maybe hosting a food drive. I mean, we also have a dry food pantry with nonperishable goods. And I can tell you that some women get sick of some of the same things. So, if there’s a food drive that can be hosted, they would love some variety.

Ron Reigns:
And going back to my story of the people we helped with the propane, one of the families talked about how they didn’t even have a Christmas dinner. So, that’s what we did. We went into our pantry. Granted, we bought them a turkey as well, but we went into our pantry and said, whatever has been in there longer than a few weeks, we’re not going to get to it. Let’s put it all in here. And we gave them probably two or three boxes of food and said, “Hey, Merry Christmas.” Let’s pass some blessing onto somebody who needs it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that’s so important. And when we have Thanksgiving and Christmas with our birth moms, before they’ve placed and even after, it’s a lot of work, and it takes our whole team. And sometimes there are moments that you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is so much work. It’s overwhelming. There are so many things I need to do to get ready for my family, not just everybody else.” And then the way that I explain it to my children and our staff members is this.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I know that I won’t be able to enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas morning, or Christmas dinner knowing that I didn’t help all the other people who needed help. Instead, I would take that time, but that effort and energy, and make sure that every person making this selfless choice of adoption gets the same courtesy and blessing that I have. And that’s a big deal to me.

Ron Reigns:
And the same respect as a human being too.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. That’s a big part of it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s huge. It’s huge. So, again, when you volunteer, you don’t have to commit for the rest of your life. You don’t have to take an oath, or this isn’t something that is going to become an albatross around your neck. This is just something you can do, even if it’s minimal. If you are interested, we have a volunteer coordinator named Maura Celaya, and you can call the office, the mainline, at 623-936-4729. If you can’t volunteer and you would like to donate, you may contact her, and we would love your donations as well. So, thank you in advance for paying it forward.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was placed for adoption in 1973. My mother was 16 years old. She made the selfless decision to choose adoption for me. A wonderful adoptive family adopted me, and because I was placed for adoption, I was able to go to school, I was able to go to college, and I was able to get my master’s degree. My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry; I’m the Director and Co-Founder of Building Arizona Families and the Donna K. Evans Foundation, which we nicknamed SWAP, Supporting Women After Placement.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
After co-founding the agency, I looked for my mother and found her in 2007. My mother struggled with her adoption choice. In her struggle, had she had help, assistance, and counseling, she might’ve had a much better experience and not struggled with depression, anxiety, or guilt. And so, we developed the Donna K. Evans Foundation. The Donna K. Evans Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that helps women after placing a child for adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We want to give women the services and the support that women like my mother did not receive. Our goal is to let women know that women matter, that they made the right choice when they chose adoption. And what we’ve learned as we’ve done adoptions for over 14 years is birth mothers need help. And we want to be the ones to help them. We know about the selfless choice they made, support them, and support their choice.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
When a woman comes into our agency, we can immediately give them an emergency food box. A woman can come into our office and receive a food box even if she is not pregnant. Our food pantry is funded through private donations, both financially and through food donations.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We have a clothing closet right here at our facility. We have maternity clothing for women in our adoption program and look for apparel the minute they walk through our door. And we have in all sizes; these are all donated clothing. We have clothing appropriate for job interviews that is appropriate for regaining their self-esteem.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We do have GED materials onsite for women interested in obtaining their GED. We also have computers that you can use for practice testing to help bring your GED. We also have domestic violence services; we can help with restraining orders and help with emergency housing through hotel vouchers. We’re looking for monetary donations, so you can help support this fantastic program that’s going to help hundreds of women after they have placed a child for adoption. We want to give them a hand up, not a handout.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Donations could include anything from clothing to nonperishable food, GED study guides, and temporary bus passes. Could you help us help them? Be part of the solution. Make a difference in all of these women’s lives. The adoption community is significant, and you’re part of it. You are part of the solution. We chose the angel wings for our logo because angels were essential to my mother. Angel wings are symbolic of being able to fly. The goal of the Donna K. Evans Foundation is to help women find their wings so they can fly. Please contact us through the Donna K. Evans foundation on our website at dkefoundation.com.

Ron Reigns:
We have a pregnancy crisis hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at 623-695-4112. Or you can call our toll-free number 1-800-340-9665. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing, and start creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information. You can check out our blogs on our website at AZpregnancyhelp.com. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by Ron Reigns. Rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts if you enjoy this podcast. And as always, thanks to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song; join us for Birth Mother Matters in Adoption next time. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns, and we’ll see you then.

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