Although a Loganville couple has been making children in foster care feel at home for the last 14 years, they have been particularly drawn to those with medical challenges.
William Campbell and his wife, Lola, have impacted the lives of many young people through Community Connections, a Stone Mountain-based nonprofit child placing agency. The organization finds adoptive homes and supportive services for children in temporary legal custody of the Division of Family and Children Services.
The couple gravitates to children with physical and mental disabilities because watching the kids progress over time is rewarding, William Campbell said.
“They come totally helpless and because of the love and care, you see them start to blossom,” he said as his face lit up with a smile. “As time goes by, you see good changes taking place.”
Although Campbell and his wife often take care of children who are completely dependent on them around the clock, the Campbells don’t think their duties are more difficult than caring for a child with traditional needs.
“I don’t think that it would be easier,” Lola Campbell said. “The things you have to do with a traditional child is still very time-consuming. A lot of those things would require you to go out of the house (to) a lot to places like sports team events or to run errands.”
They admit times can get difficult but they are grateful for support from the agency, family, friends and the community.
The couple has been married for 47 years have three adult children as well as grandchildren, and adopted Taylor-Ann, who is now 11 years old, through the agency. William and Lola Campbell are caring for a young adult and a toddler both with medical disabilities.
For privacy reasons, they are not allowed to share photos or provide much information about the children they foster.
“You do everything for them,” Lola Campbell said. “You have to think for them because if they make a sound, you have to know (or) find out what’s going on. You really have to get to know them.”
They proudly speak about how the toddler, who is in a wheelchair and uses a breathing tube, may have moved his hand or smiled. They can’t help but brag about how the young lady donned a pretty pink gown to a dance event.
In the past, they adopted a little boy named Magic at a young age who had medical needs but he passed away after he turned 5. An old photograph is the centerpiece on their living room mantle.
The Campbells gladly went through the process of getting approved to take in children including orientation, special training, a home study and meeting other requirements.
“It’s not strenuous, but it is a little bit of a commitment,” William Campbell said.
They have ongoing training but Lola Campbell said anyone who is interested should not to be intimidated. The passion displayed when they interact with the children they foster almost makes their work seem effortless.
William Campbell is the director of security at an Atlanta-area golf club, and has a background in mental health services. Lola Campbell worked as a dialysis technician before she decided to care for children in foster care full time.
She chose to give fostering a chance after finding out about an infant who was desperately in need of a family while staying at a shelter.
Over the years, the Campbells have inspired others to become foster parents or adopt through Community Connections.
Co-founders Karen Jackson and Linda Coil, who have extensive backgrounds in social work, started the organization in 2002 after working for Division of Family and Children Services.
Since then, the nonprofit has shifted its focus on serving children through age 21 with physical and mental disabilities, said Karen Jackson. The program mostly includes younger children with medical challenges, so the agency offers the necessary accommodations for foster parents, Jackson said. Many require the use of medicine, oxygen or other equipment.
“They’re doing such hard work everyday to care for the children, particularly for children with medical needs,” Jackson said. “We want to make sure the customer service is there and that anything that they need we provide right away.”
The state-certified agency has 60 children in its program and 55 approved foster families, Jackson said.
Community Connections has a donation center called The Closet Connection that accepts tax-deductible donations of gently used clothing, books and toys for children up to 12-year-old.
The organization regularly allows for foster parents to have time off throughout the year and provides care for their children in foster care while the parents are away, if needed.
Still, the Campbells have taken their foster children everywhere from church to special events to vacations in Jamaica.
They laugh off the misconception that they’re only in it for the money or benefits they receive from the government or the agency.
Despite the countless hours spent at doctor appointments or making arrangements ahead of time to accommodate the children in foster care, the Campbells don’t give it a second thought.
The Campbells said they will continue to serve the children in need because it’s simply what they do.