Pastor Eric Hallback’s investment in CASA and foster care all started when a foster family from his congregation, The Rock Faith Center in El Paso, asked him to pray for a newborn in their care. The baby was just two weeks old, on oxygen and suffering from drug withdrawal. Pastor Eric and the congregation rallied around the foster family, supporting them through the child’s recovery.
“That child is now 5 years old and healthy, and I believe it was because of that family and the love they showed that child,” Pastor Eric said.
This family opened his eyes, both to the challenges children and families in the foster care system face and the difference community support can make. It led him to wonder how many more people in his church were involved or affected.
Last year in El Paso County, there were 594 children in the foster care system – 98 percent of the total number of children in the system in the six-county Far West Texas region.
One day, Pastor Eric faced his congregation and asked, “How many people are connected to foster care?”
“Countless” people raised their hand, he said – people who were connected in a variety of ways. Some were raised in foster care, others served as or had the desire to serve as a foster parent, some advocated for children and families as CASA volunteers… In that moment, he knew his congregation was called to do more to support children and families in crisis.
“Something ignited,” he said. “So I began to figure out how we could serve.”
He started a ministry dedicated to linking members of the church with ways to make a positive difference. The ministry has since helped recruit many new foster families, adoptive families and CASA volunteers.
“It changed the whole culture of our church,” he said.
He’s since taken his leadership in this area beyond his congregation. He serves as the Orphan Care Ambassador in West Texas, and he’s the chair of The Advisory Committee on Promoting Adoption of Minority Children (ACPAMC), a church-state partnership committee promoting the adoption of minority children. He’s also involved in Texas CASA’s faith-based CASA volunteer recruitment initiative, Clergy, CASA & Community.
If you were in Pastor Eric’s congregation when he asked who’d been affected by foster care, would you have raised your hand?
So many of us know someone – or know someone who knows someone – who has a connection to the foster care system. The same way Pastor Eric’s congregation is banding together to help the most vulnerable in their community, each of us has the potential to make a difference. We urge you to consider how you could get involved, whether it’s becoming a CASA volunteer, giving to CASA or another organization, or maybe even leveraging a community of your own.
Every child has a chance – it’s you! ®