PORT ST LUCIE — Whether it’s money, time or even a long car ride, local foster and adoptive mom Kristin West puts everything where her heart is.
“Kristin West is what I would call a hero,” said Lawanda Reason, a dependency case manager who works in CCKids’ system of care.
“She took in a child with severe mental health and trust issues,” Reason said. “When it was recommended the child go to a treatment facility, Kristin drove the child to the eight hours away to ensure a smooth transition.”
Communities Connected for Kids recently awarded West the Topaz GEM – or Going the Extra Mile – award for her dedication and advocacy for the children in her home. (Communities Connected for Kids oversees and coordinates the child-welfare community in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.)
West said she is trying to play her part to make the world a better place.
“I am so humbled by this award, and I am honored to continue to serve the most hurting children and families in our community,” she said. “Seeing families create a different kind of life for their children is seriously the best thing I’ve ever gotten to see.
“And getting to love them through it...I don’t even know why I got chosen to get to do that, but I’m grateful for it.”
West not only opens her home to children in need, she makes sure other caregivers have what they need to do it.
In 2021, she started the Treasure Coast chapter of Hands and Feet. The program is simple: Caregivers, including both foster families, relative and non-relative caregivers, fill out a request form specifying their family’s material needs after a child is placed in their homes.
The Hands and Feet staff receive the request and then gather the requested items from local foster closets and community donors. Finally, the items are delivered to the family within 48 hours.
If you’re a caregiver and would like more information, visit www.handsandfeetfl.com.