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Teen who sought foster care finds community love, support

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (BP)–When Chastity graduated high school this spring, she did so with many members of the local community cheering her on.
When Chastity needed help, she reached out to people in her high school and the community — Bowling Green, Ky. — who in turn helped her connect with Lanise Herrington as a foster parent.
“We’ve been good for each other, ” Herrington said. “I needed somebody to love, and she needed to be loved.”
Chastity was trying to make it on her own, and the stress of that finally began to take its toll on her, said Karen Burnham, a foster-care specialist for the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children. “I’m convinced that God was saving Lanise’s home for Chastity. From the beginning it was a perfect fit.”
Until she was 9, Chastity lived with her grandparents. After their deaths, she went to live in an unstable and sometimes-unhealthy environment with her biological mother. Rather than continue in that setting, she struck out on her own as a teenager.
Chastity’s first step was to ask for help from her school guidance counselor, who called KBHC’s Burnham. Because Chastity was 18, it was her decision whether to enter foster care. Because she is a private placement and was not removed from her home by the state, the Bowling Green community and KBHC supporters from across the state became her benefactors.
“I was really scared coming into foster care,” Chastity said. “I was stepping out only by faith.”
Wanda Scott was one of those in the community that responded to help. Part of her job in the trust department of National City Bank is to help evaluate high school candidates for college scholarships. As a member of KBHC’s local advisory board and of Bowling Green’s First Baptist Church, Scott heard about Chastity.
Scott said that when the annual scholarship search began, “It was like a light went off in my head. With all the hard knocks and challenges this young lady has faced, she has maintained a Christian attitude and wants to serve the Lord. She has excelled scholastically.” Chastity has maintained a 3.5 grade point average throughout high school.
“She doesn’t have family helping her,” Scott said. “She needs the support of the community.”
Chastity was awarded a four-year scholarship to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
Hillvue Heights Baptist Church, the Nadine Loving Sunday School Class of Bowling Green First Baptist and Herrington’s home church, Oakland Baptist, all have helped support Chastity through gifts, financial assistance and prayer. “There has been unbelievable support from people Chastity and I don’t even know.” Herrington said.
Such response represents why Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children has set a goal to have at least one foster family in each Kentucky Baptist church in the commonwealth.
“I consider my job a ministry, and I want to be there to help my foster parents and foster children,” Burnham said. “But there is no way I could have done all the things that have been done by churches and individuals to help Chastity and Lanise. That consistent involvement and prayer has made such a difference. KBHC needs and wants more churches involved in the foster care ministry.”
Herrington said she has learned a great deal about parenting since Chastity moved in with her. “I’ve always been able to come and go as I please, and [foster care] has meant changing my schedule,” she said. “But Karen [Burnham] has been personally involved with us and has helped find other foster parents Chastity could stay with when I had to be out of town.”
Whatever sacrifices Herrington has made, she said, are small compared to the love she has experienced as a foster parent. “Chastity sheds light,” she said. “Her faith in God is unbelievable. She helps me when my faith is lacking.”
“I’ve never really had a Christian mom before,” Chastity said. “Lanise has helped me overcome obstacles in my life. God only knows how this has helped me.”

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  • Dannah Prather