On July 11, 2007 a handsome 14-month old little boy was placed in our arms along with a single black trash bag with only a few worn out clothes and a few plastic easter eggs considered to be his toys. Reality hit us quick. Was this normal? Were other foster parents okay with this? I didn't want to believe so. My mind began to wonder whether our little guys first, second, and sadly third transition in 14 short months were met with the same sad image. This scenario always bothered me and the thought of other children experiencing this same reality was worrisome. Trash bags? Very few clothes? Worn? Stained? Too small? Leftovers? I knew as a community we could do better than this. I have always believed that children in care deserve to be clothed in confidence so they can feel loved, empowered, and valued, just like everyone else. As it is, they get uprooted from their homes and their lives completely flipped upside down in the blink of an eye, the least we can do is show them the love and dignity all children deserve. Like that saying goes, "when you look good you feel good."
As our journey continued as foster parents over the years I realized we were not alone in our experiences and there was a need for resources to better support the basic needs of children in foster care and their families. Because of this knowledge I wanted to do something about it and offer additional support for children in foster care, foster families, and those in group homes as well as support case professionals and the children they work with. What started as a thought during the placement of two of our boys in 2019 turned into a strong desire to make it happen. So came this idea of a boutique where children in foster care and their families could shop the latest trends in a welcoming, unique, boutique-like setting where merchandise would be new and quality like-new clothing, FREE of cost and available once a month for every child while in care. What started as a dream, developed into a reality with the help of a wonderful support system and community.
Foster Love was established in June 2020 and became an official 501c3 in January of 2021. On July 11, 2021 we celebrated the opening of our storefront boutique in Downtown Ralston. We currently offer Shopping Days, appointments for emergency needs, and an art program called Artsy Kids each month. In addition, we hold several extra events for foster families throughout the year including a Schools-Out Picnic, Back-to-School Party, Boo-tique Bash,
Sweets with Santa, and Parents Night Out.
Thank you to everyone who has believed, encouraged, and supporting this dream.
Your help is making a difference!
SHE WAS NEVER QUITE READY. BUT SHE WAS BRAVE. AND THE UNIVERSE LISTENS TO BRAVE.
COME BE BRAVE WITH US!
Our mission is to provide basic needs and opportunities for children in foster care so they feel confident, empowered, and valued and foster families feel supported.
Our purpose is to create a loving and inclusive community for foster families where needs are met, confidence shines within, and opportunities allow youth in foster care to feel empowered.
Amber is the Founder and CEO of Foster Love. She brings 15 years of experience as a foster and adoptive parent in the Omaha community. She is passionate about helping those who are placed in unfortunate circumstances and needing a little extra love and support. It has been her dream to create a space where children in foster care and foster families can feel supported and basic needs could be met through a unique boutique-like experience. She has been married to her husband, Matthew Richardson, for 19 years. They have four amazing children; Trevon, Jayda, Demetrius, and Berkley and a handful of little loves they've been able to love on and continue to love on. She says life wouldn’t be nearly as sweet or meaningful without the foster care community that has had the most incredible impact on her life. When she's not loving on her family she enjoys traveling, playing soccer, working out, exploring the outdoors, and home projects.
President - Amber Richardson
Amber Richardson is the founder of Foster Love which was established in June of 2020. She brings 15 years of experience as a foster and adoptive parent. Amber got involved with group homes in 2005 when she completed an internship at Youth Emergency Services. Since then she has been passionate about advocating for children in foster care and those who have been placed in difficult circumstances. She received a bachelor's degree in Education and Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she also played on a soccer scholarship. In 2010 she received a master's degree in Leadership and Coaching. She was the former assistant coach for the women's soccer program at Bellevue University for 11 years. She currently works as a fitness coach at Orangetheory Fitness Downtown Omaha. Amber is married to Matt, and a proud mother of four children; two of which have been adopted through foster care. "I am so excited about this wonderful resource for our community and those who support our mission. The impact we are going to have is going to be incredible."
Vice Chairperson - Mary Visek
Mary Visek is the Chief Probation Officer of the Juvenile Probation Office in Douglas County, Nebraska. Mary also worked in the Adult Probation office in Douglas County, and has over 30 years of experience in working with the criminal justice and mental health systems in the Omaha area. Mary has been involved in a number of best practice and reform efforts for system improvements including the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Operation Youth Success, Youth Impact, Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and continues to advocate for
the success of youth and families. Mary is married to Steve, and honored to be the mother of 2 young men who were adopted into the Visek family as infants. “ I am so excited to be a part of a service that is really needed in our community. “
Director - Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard brings over 25 years of experience working with the foster care system. She is a licensed clinical social worker, wife, and mother of three. Catherine has worked with children and families in several capacities. She is currently in private practice providing group, individual and family therapy. She has experience working with foster care, domestic, and international adoption. She enjoys helping families find the resources they need throughout the foster care and pre and post adoption process. Having been trained in Attachment and Trauma and TF-CBT, Catherine understands the importance of a supportive community and environment that is able to meet every child’s needs. “I am so excited to be part of this project and admire Amber and her family for taking the steps to ensure all children are treated with dignity and respect.”
Director - Ellen Petersen
Ellen Petersen graduated from UNO with a Business degree in Accounting, Finance and Banking. She has worked for a number of local small businesses and nonprofits aiding in the accounting and finance functions. She currently works as the Accounting Manager at Skillwork which is a local travel staffing company for skilled tradesmen and has been there since its inception. Ellen has volunteered with her church youth group leading small groups and one-on-one discipleship. She has a heart for helping students learn, grow, and develop in their faith. She is interested in emergency foster care for newborns and looks to take the first steps in the fall of 2020. "I have a heart for youth; to know they're valued, heard, encouraged and loved. That they are not alone and that they have someone to go to who cares for them."
Director - Tony Hernandez
Tony Hernandez has many years of working with and on behalf of children. It started when he volunteered in high school at Child Saving Institute Crisis Center working with children removed by CPS and awaiting placement. His current role is prosecuting child sexual assault crimes with the Dodge County Attorney's Office. Prior to this Tony spent ten years with the Douglas County Attorney's Office advocating for children in the juvenile court system and spent two years serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in the Sarpy County juvenile court system. He opened his own solo practice in 2021, Hernandez Law & Mediation, where one of his roles was to serve as a guardian ad litem in the juvenile court system in Douglas, Sarpy, and Lancaster Counties. A product of the University Of Nebraska system, both undergraduate and law school, Tony is excited for this opportunity to continue to serve the children of his community. "Foster Love addresses an essential need for children who often enter the system with few possessions, little clothing, and low self-esteem. I am excited to be a part of helping children."
Director - Kaitlyn Gochenour
Kaitlyn Gochenour graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa with a dual degree in Political Science and Management. Afterwards she went on to attend and graduate from Drake Law School in Des Moines, Iowa with a specialization in Compliance. She previously worked for a large nonprofit in Johnston, Iowa aiding children with disabilities in their legal and compliance functions. She currently works for Mosaic as a Staff Attorney serving individuals with intellectual disabilities. Kaitlyn has always had a passion for working with nonprofits and advocating for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. Outside of work, Kaitlyn is very active in her community, planning a 2023 wedding and will be welcoming a baby girl later this year. "I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with Amber and Foster Love. I cannot wait to see different perspectives and gain insights to a field that is very much underrepresented."