All through high school and college, Hannah Coffman and her boyfriend, Tim, talked about how after they got married, they would grow a big family – and fast. The couple made good on their plans when they had their first placement as foster parents one month after tying the knot. That was in July 2016, and by August they were fostering two newborns and a 3-year-old.
“It was exactly what we had hoped for in starting our family,” says Coffman.
Over the past seven years, the devoted pair has fostered more than 20 kids. They have also adopted three kids and have one biological daughter. Their children are now aged 6, 5, 5 and 3. Understandably, their kiddos struggle to say goodbye to their foster siblings when it’s time for them to leave. Therefore, the Coffmans found a way to change their mode of service while still providing support to foster children. The Isaiah 117 House provides a safe, loving home for children awaiting foster care placement. Earlier this year the couple began the process of getting a location built in the Muncie area to serve the kids of Delaware County and surrounding counties.
When a child is removed from their home by the Department of Child Services (DCS), they must go back to a DCS office and wait in that setting for hours – sometimes days.
During that time, they have no shower and must eat whatever vending-machine food is available. While they may have access to blankets and perhaps a mattress, the kids must sleep on the floor of an 11-by-12-foot visitation room.
“There’s nothing comforting about that environment, and yet this is where they go on one of the most traumatic days of their life,” says Coffman.
To help these kids feel safe and protected rather than scarred and scared, the Isaiah 117 House is designed to reduce trauma. The colors inside are light and bright, and they have what’s called the Giving Room, in which kids are given brand-new items including clothes, personal hygiene items and popular, sought-after toys.
“We keep it stocked with anything they could want or need,” says Coffman. “We believe on that day, that physical representation of worth that items with tags brings is something that can’t be replaced.”
Since 2018, 19 Isaiah 117 House locations have opened across 11 states, with more than 50 currently in the building process, including the Delaware County location. They held their kickoff fundraising event in mid-November, and have worked with commissioners on a possible land donation. They hope to have a home built within the next year.
“This is the community’s home for the community’s children,” says Coffman. “We want people to bring their strengths to make it a success.”
You can clean the dwelling, mow the lawn, help keep the Giving Room stocked, donate toiletries – whatever suits you. One woman at a Tennessee home volunteered to come in and decorate the house for every holiday.
“That was something she enjoyed doing, so that’s what she brought to the house,” says Coffman. “We’ll need people to make a house run.”
To learn more or to offer volunteer services, visit isaiah117house.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 423-518-3760, ext. 151.