WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -Traveling for foster families can be a struggle for many reasons, but one local organization is breaking down those barriers.
The Restored Souls Foundations is a non-profit organization that aims to offer a vacation space and respite for free.
They’ve been supporting foster families and special needs families for a couple years now, through fundraisers and community events, but the biggest impact they’ve had — offering a house at the beach to families who face challenges when trying to travel.
“So, a lot of foster kids are not allowed to leave the state, because of the restrictions from the county, and all of the paperwork, and the extra paperwork to take kids across state lines is absurd,” said Melissa Matthews, Restored Souls Foundation Director.
Another barrier for foster families is cost: “Foster families tend to be larger because it’s not just one kid, it’s the whole sibling group,” said Matthews.
The idea of Restored Souls was born by Mark & Melissa Matthews after they moved to Wilmington and knew that being on the water could offer the respite that foster families and families with special needs children wish for.
“I didn’t have a very strong family when I was a kid, so for me to be able to reach out to folks and kids and just really create great memories and fun activities that they can just share for many, many, many years is awesome,” said Mark Matthews, Vice Chair for the Restored Souls Foundation.
A stronger meaning to what they do.
“Our constant phrase is restoring hope one family at a time. We’ve been there. We’ve been foster parents for 11 years. We’ve seen the good days and bad days; we just want to encourage others,” said Matthews.
Through fundraisers and community events, the organization is able to host these families at a bed and breakfast in Carolina Beach. The house is donated to them from generous supporters of the organization.
Families are nominated by family and friends, then the Matthews draw a name, and surprise the family with a free vacation.
“So, I end up making a phone call to say ‘hey, you’ve won!’ and they start to cry and I cry. It makes it all worth it, it makes all the time and effort worth it,” said Melissa Matthews.
For the Morris family, they did just that.
“We were absolutely shocked, like, didn’t expect it at all,” said foster parent Jenny Morris.
The Morris’ were randomly selected to have a vacation for free because of the Restored Souls Foundation.
“I think it’s such a unique idea for a way to support people in foster care, I know a lot of people want to support those who are doing foster care. It’s such a creative, wonderful way that so meets the needs of foster families,” said Morris.
Beyond thankful for the organization, and all of the donors supporting Restored Souls. “It is heart growing and heart stretching in many ways,” said Morris.
The organization has hosted three families so far this year, and they hope to continue growing this number for the years to come.
Click here for more information about the organization.
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