Community helps foster care nonprofit With Love expand
"Children don't choose to go into foster care."
But according to With Love founder and president Allie Roth, anyone can choose to help.
And while Oregon's struggling foster care system has been hit with a tidal wave of negative headlines recently, Roth's local nonprofit has been buoyed by so much community support that they're expanding — again.
The organization will now operate out of a 6,000-square-foot warehouse at 14555 S.W. 74th Ave. in Tigard, with hopes of doubling down on the 1,100 foster children and more than $1 million in supplies they distributed last year.
"The community has wrapped around us really fiercely," Roth said. "They want to volunteer, and they want their companies to come volunteer."
It's been just six years since Roth, a former educator in the Beaverton School District, started With Love as a hub for distributing quality clothing and supplies for free to foster care children aged 0 to 6.
Originally operating out of Roth's Lake Oswego home, the volunteer-led group quickly realized they needed more space to store donations, which include toys, infant formula, shoes, diapers, clothing and even mattresses or swing sets.
"It had to start somewhere," Roth explained. "If we waited for everything to be perfect, it never would have."
With Love began renting 1,500 square feet of warehouse space in Tigard, and later added another similarly-sized depot next door. But the buildings weren't interconnected, and the storerooms lacked adequate air conditioning or heating.
Volunteers had to scramble for just six dedicated parking spots. In their new space, they have 50. That's important, because With Love has only five part-time employees, so they rely on dozens of committed volunteers. As many as 1,400 have volunteered at some point.
Roth, a foster parent herself who primarily takes in drug-affected infants, says the expansion comes at a time of "skyrocketing" need. In Oregon, more than 11,000 youth spent one day in foster care last year, and about 60% enter the system due to neglect.
"There's just hours between getting a phone call as a foster parent, and the kids showing up on your front door," Roth said. In her experience, foster kids arrive with just the clothes on their back, or sometimes only a hospital gown.
Roth credits EasyKicks for donating hundreds of Converse and Nike shoes, and Koi Fusion for sponsoring With Love's bags of clothing. Tuft & Needle donated 80 brand-new mattresses recently, while Lennar Homes donated 43,000 diapers. There are many other supporters as well.
With Love can deliver hand-picked supplies to foster families within a 30-minute drive of their headquarters every three months, and parents from around Oregon and Southwest Washington can pick up supplies themselves on Wednesdays and Fridays.
"The demand and the need in Portland is so great," Roth said. "We would love to work our way out of a job."
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