For more than a century, UMFS has been instrumental in helping children, teens and families navigate life’s challenges through a comprehensive collection of programs. Their services are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals and families alike, in an effort to equip them with the necessary tools for success.
UMFS centers itself on being an unwavering champion for high-risk children and families. In cooperation with state agencies and organizations, the nonprofit has made its mark on the world by creating opportunities for growth, encouraging generosity and compassion and empowering children to contribute to society as engaged citizens.
We spoke with UMFS Chief Program Officer Adalay Wilson about the organization and the inspiring work it does throughout Central Virginia. Wilson has been with UMFS for 32 years in a variety of leadership roles. “It has been an honor and privilege to work for an organization whose mission, vision and values are totally aligned with my personal beliefs and values,” she said.
As a part of our “Five Questions” series, Wilson gave us some insight into the life changing support UMFS provides for vulnerable youth and families in need.
How would you describe the core mission of UMFS?
Our core mission is to serve children, families and our communities. UMFS assists in crisis stabilization and functions as a community-solutions provider. Our work goes beyond the initial call for help – we continue to support families during their child’s treatment program, and we remain connected following completion.
What is something most people are generally unaware of when it comes to foster care or adoption?
There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding those topics. A lot of people think the process is more difficult to access than it actually is. For example, the beliefs that the foster parent must already have kids, be married or that there is an income requirement are all myths. As long as the household is stable and can provide necessities, none of those factors will determine the eligibility to adopt or become a foster parent.
How do volunteers and donors help UMFS?
Our volunteers are vital to UMFS. They serve as mentors and tutors for children, bring meals to families in crisis and help bring children joy by providing party supplies to celebrate their birthdays. Our donors deliver critical support for youth in many ways. Especially around this time of year, donors are interested in making sure children have a good holiday season with toys, playground equipment and more. The support of volunteers and donors allow us to provide the many services offered by UMFS to address unique challenges.
Can you characterize the extent of the problem UMFS addresses?
As a nonprofit, we partner with the state and work with communities to provide every child with a team of unwavering champions and tools to become strong adults. Through our range of programs, we are able to provide permanency for children in the foster care system and maintain family connections by working with the Department of Social Services to locate distant family members and help to reunite them. Following our treatment foster care program, 74% of youth transitioned into a permanent family setting or were adopting after leaving care. Our education services are provided through the Charterhouse School. It delivers specialized therapeutic education for children struggling with emotional, behavioral, developmental challenges, autism or other neurological differences, and has served 75 students in the central Virginia region.
If $100,000 fell from the sky tomorrow, how would you spend it?
If $100,00 fell from the sky, UMFS would use it to invest in our capital campaign to improve our current infrastructure and develop more. The UMFS Richmond campus is in the process of building a new residential facility and an addition to the Charterhouse School. Once completed, these spaces will both expand and elevate our services, helping us better serve children and families.
Photo provided by UMFS