“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” ~ James 1:27
The James Project recruits and supports dedicated foster parens through the provision of homes and services.
The James Project is dedicated to living out Christ’s vision to care for displaced children in our community by assisting foster parents to create secure and loving homes for all children in need.
The James Project believes we can best help fostering parents and the children they serve through the provision of homes with 5-6 bedrooms and 3 plus bathrooms, enabling them to house the maximum number of foster children allowed by Illinois law. These homes are owned and maintained by The James Project and are leased to fostering families for a nominal cost. Our network of talented volunteers assist us in helping the families who live in these homes with yard work and home improvement projects so the foster parents can pour more energy and love into their foster children.
The High Pointe house was the first home purchased by The James Project. After looking at only a few houses, we became aware of a ‘for sale by owner’ home in the High Pointe subdivision in the summer of 2012. Although it only had 4 bedrooms, we saw potential in the walk-out basement for a 5th bedroom to be added. A backyard renovation was also needed to remove an above-ground pool and create a play area/basketball court with a deck for the family to enjoy the outdoor space. With help from many professionals who worked at no cost and generous contributions from donors, the work was completed in 2 phases and we are pleased with the results. As this was our first home, we learned the value of having an extra-large capacity washer and dryer set for a large foster family, which set the precedence to equip each of our James Project homes with these appliances.
The second home in our Hawthorne Place is a 120-year-old gem set in a beautiful neighborhood in central Springfield. The previous owners took wonderful care of it and their pride of ownership is apparent throughout the home. With the help of board member Gary Nelsen and retired contractor Paul Paoni, we used their knowledge to make an excellent decision to make an offer on this home. We closed in August 2013, thanks to Bank of Springfield and Kyle Killebrew of The Real Estate Group. The home has a large living/dining room and an eat-in kitchen downstairs, plus a full bath and large pantry—all immaculate. The basement, although not ‘finished,’ is in great shape, and has plenty of storage and a large laundry area. Upstairs there were originally just 4 bedrooms and one bath, but the smallest bedroom was converted into a large bathroom by DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen, and 2 other bedrooms were converted into dormitory style rooms with large closets. With the generosity of our ministry partners, we were able to add a fence to the backyard and freshen up paint on the inside. It is a home perfect for a large, loving family!
The Lowell Home is similar to our Hawthorne Place house as it is also located in central Springfield, boasts tons of character in the design, and has the necessary space for a large family. We closed on this home in October 2015 and created an Adopt-A-Room program to make updates to all of the rooms. Over 65 volunteers gave generously of their time and resources to “spruce up" the house. They worked tirelessly stripping wallpaper, painting, laying flooring and carpet, hanging curtains, cleaning, remodeling the kitchen, landscaping, setting up rooms, and many other time-consuming chores. Our friends at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen also added a much needed bathroom. By making this older home fresh and new, it will show any foster family which lives there how much we value them.
When the Board of Directors decided in 2014 to establish a foster home specifically for teenage foster children, we wondered where we would find foster parents who actually wanted a house full of teenagers—with the heartache and trauma that often comes with them. Because we knew we were looking for a very specialized family, we decided not to purchase a home for the Teen Project until we had chosen a family, thus letting them have some input into the home that would be right for their needs. When we met Angela Trowbridge and her husband Darius Howse, we were impressed and knew that their teen fostering experience of over 10 years was going to be a perfect fit. They both have a heart for these children and Angela is a licensed clinical therapist specializing in adolescents.
In the course of her professional life, Angela had noticed that there was a lot of help available for children with special needs (like foster teenagers,) in the Pleasant Plains School District.
Our Real Estate Team, Gary Nelsen and Paul Paoni, went right to work narrowing down our choices and we found a great home in the Harrison Park subdivision off of West Washington Street. This home did not need to have the usual five bedrooms, because when a child is specialized, like many foster teenagers are, each child is counted as 2 children. Therefore, if foster parents have three specialized teens, in the eyes of DCFS they have 6 foster children. Our home in Harrison Park has four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, with the potential of adding another bedroom and bathroom in the finished basement. We retired the mortgage on this house in the autumn of 2015 and feel blessed to have this home as part of The James Project ministry.
When a child is placed with a new foster family, they very often arrive with only the clothing they are wearing. It is then up to the foster parents to find or buy necessities for the child—clothing, toiletry items, shoes, etc. The State of Illinois gives vouchers, but it takes many weeks to receive them and very few stores in the Springfield area accept the vouchers.
Closet 1:27 began as dozens of tubs of clothing in our Closet 1:27 founder, Sarah Homeier’s, home, and has expanded to a warehouse of items. Through donations, Closet 1:27 provides clothing, gift cards for shoes, beds, bedding, and necessities to newly placed foster children. How does it work? The foster parents of any newly placed child are given information about Closet 1:27 when they accept the child into their home. Their caseworker then contacts us and we put together an order based on the child’s gender, age, and size and deliver it to the home within 24 hours. This allows the foster parents to spend more time getting to know their new child, rather than having to go out and search out basic necessities for their child.
Foster children have already experienced so much heartache before arriving at a foster home. It is for this reason we want to give items that are in perfect condition to show just how much The James Project treasures them.
We also need volunteers willing to deliver items to foster families, and if this is something you can assist with, please check out our volunteer page.
We are frequently in need of the following items:
If you would like to make a monetary donation or host a clothing drive for Closet 1:27, please visit our Support TJP page.
The James Project is not only committed to supporting foster families, we are also committed to recruiting more foster and adoptive parents in our community. It is for this reason we established Call 1:27.
When parents begin to explore the option of fostering or adopting, they have many questions. The Call 1:27 ministry holds classes in local churches to educate and answer questions about fostering and adoption, and we also provide 1-on-1 mentoring based on the need of the family. Experienced caseworkers and actual foster and adoptive parents explain the process of becoming foster parents or adoptive parents. Local foster care and adoption agencies partner with us to help the many people who have approached us with questions about whether they should or could open their hearts and homes to displaced children. The James Project can come alongside these parents and be a valuable resource to them, and also direct them to pertinent resources.
If you would like to learn when the next Call 1:27 class is scheduled, please contact us and we will get you the information you need.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” ~Proverbs 8
The James Project came into being because of a committed group of individuals who faithfully prayed for guidance and discernment as to how to best help the fostering families of Sangamon County. Their prayers continue to sustain us as we enter another year of service. We thank God every day for our prayer team and their dedication to lifting up the needs of our ministry!
Each week, a brief but informational email is sent out from the prayer team leadership to each person on the prayer team. It is filled with praises for what has taken place within the ministry, prayer requests from the board of directors, and scripture to uplift hearts. Urgent prayer requests are sent out on an as needed basis. To be added to The James Project Prayer Team, please contact us and we will gladly add you to the email list.
We are not all called to become a foster parent, but we are called to do what we can—and, we can all do something.