The Easterner

EWU and The Mason Jar team up for Foster Care Month

Cheney community finding ways to show support to local foster parents

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

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“It’s now or never. Are we going to do this or not?” Loretta Gaul said to her husband Michael before becoming foster parents.

Three years later, Gaul said her life has changed for the better.

The Mason Jar coffee shop in Cheney is looking to honor stories like Gaul’s through its promotion of National Foster Care Month in May.

“National Foster Care Month is a way to recognize how many kids or families are involved with foster kids,” FosteringWA Peer Mentor Meaghan Flowers said in a phone interview. “The Mason Jar has been a great support for us.”

Flowers and Mason Jar owner Douglas Labar collaborated through their connections in the Cheney foster care community. Labar wanted to find ways that The Mason Jar could show its support to foster parents living in Cheney.

All month, foster parents who show ID can enjoy free drinks at The Mason Jar.

“It’s one of those systems that needs all the support it can,” said Labar in a phone interview. “I think it’s really important to thank those people and also get awareness.”

FosteringWA, an EWU mentoring program for foster parents, takes pride in the environment it provides to its support-seekers—and not just by free coffee.

Gaul, who knew Flowers in the initial stages of becoming a foster parent, has benefitted from Cheney’s efforts to uplift its foster system. Currently, she is the mother to her four older biological children, her two adopted male toddlers, and her 14-month-old foster daughter.

While not always the case for some, Gaul maintains a fulfilled attitude toward her experience as a foster parent.

“If I look at it in the lens of falling in love with a stranger’s child, it definitely is exactly what we expected,” Gaul said. “It doesn’t take much to become attached to a kiddo who needs to be rescued and comes from a really destructive life.”

FosteringWA, along with The Mason Jar, is making efforts to expand the fostering community in Cheney—this can mean involvement from not just the foster parents themselves.  

Labar wants to encourage Cheney residents to take part in the community, even if they cannot be foster parents directly. Fundraising, donating and being a “relief” person are some ways to contribute, according to Labar.  

“A lot of people don’t even know there are so many different avenues for foster care,” Labar said.

As support for Cheney foster parents grows, people like Gaul continue to be impacted.

“It has changed my world completely upside down in a better way,” said Gaul. “The capacity that my heart has opened has changed the most.”

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EWU and The Mason Jar team up for Foster Care Month