May 27, 2022
I am thrilled to share with you another installment in our ongoing series highlighting THF grantees. These organizations make a powerful impact within our community in their distinctive ways. You can directly support their services by giving to THF’s Community Fund. When THF receives a donation to the community fund, 100% of those funds go back to the community to support the area’s greatest needs. Thank you for helping us make a difference right here in Texoma – every single day.
The THF Team
Susie Black Holamon knows what it’s like to be a child in need of safety and security. At the age of 12, she was placed in a foster home in Dallas. She spent the next five years receiving loving foster care from Joe and Charlotte Geary, who had established a faith-based home for teenagers in their neighborhood.
It was the stability, encouragement, and guidance that Holamon, now a retired teacher, received from the Gearys as a teen that inspires her today. Through her experience as a child and later as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer as an adult, Holamon knows firsthand the dire need for loving foster parents and safe foster homes for children in Texas.
In 2017, she partnered with her former foster sister, Colleen Geary Patton, and the idea for Geary Girls Ranch (now Geary Foster Foundations) was born.
Geary Foster Foundations is a 501c3 with a mission to help “One child at a time. One home at a time.” The organization is currently building its first foster home community on a 12-acre ranch in Grayson County. The first home at the ranch has been operating for two years and has provided a safe and loving environment for 11 foster children to date—and counting! The second home is nearing completion, with a family ready and waiting to move in this summer.
The community is designed like a typical neighborhood, with eight to ten homes; but what’s different is that each home houses a licensed foster family with space for up to six children (foster parents may have up to two biological children). The site plan includes a community center where they can host classes, special programs, and family visits.
Geary Foster Foundations works with child placement agencies to license and train the foster parents living in the community. In addition to providing safe and loving families for at-risk children, Geary Foster Foundations creates a community of support for these parents who are on a shared mission to impact the lives of children in foster care. The community is also home to Gigi’s Closet, a foster care outreach providing clothing, shoes, toys, educational material, and even some furniture to foster families in Grayson County.
“The retention of foster parents is the number one issue in the lack of available foster homes,” Holamon says. “It’s difficult to get a license, and then when they do and they’re in a neighborhood of people who may not always understand foster care. They don’t have the same support. Additionally, families get licensed but then feel isolated and overwhelmed.” Geary Foster Foundations is changing that. “Our goal is to make life easier for the foster parents by providing respite, mentors, and babysitters,” Holamon explains. “The families [in the community] support each other and understand what’s going on with these kids.”
Most children enter foster homes for a minimum of six months, but they often stay much longer until a permanent placement can be made. That may mean reunification with their biological parents, placement with a relative, or adoption. Oftentimes, sibling groups are split between foster homes and those children could be spread across a city, or even live in different parts of the state. “When you have a community of homes, you can bring in sibling groups that may have to live in different homes, but still be in the same neighborhood,” Holamon explains.
The 12 acres of land that the ranch sits on was donated to Geary Foster Foundations, and the organization works with donors to raise funds for the construction of each home. The grant from the Texoma Health Foundation has “enabled us to move further along [in the development of the community],” says Holamon explains.
The idea for the Geary Foster Foundations ranch has been tested and proven by other organizations and has shown to be a successful program for the retention of foster parents. It’s an idea Holamon hopes can be replicated all over the state of Texas, even long after she is gone. “My dream would be for someone to come in and complete this community and invest in foster care, then build another community on acreage elsewhere,” says Holamon. “These homes are built to last. Long after I’m gone, I’d love this community to continue and for people to replicate this program for foster children and families elsewhere.”
Texoma Health Foundation is proud to partner with Geary Foster Foundations to make a lasting impact in the lives of children living in foster care. If you would like more information about this organization visit www.gearyfosterfoundations.org. If you would like to donate to the THF Community Fund or learn more about Texoma Giving Partners visit www.texomagivingpartners.org.