When children are placed in a foster home, they often arrive with only the clothes on their backs. Foster/kinship families accept these children at all hours, including the middle of the night, and attempt to provide a home to these children with their own limited resources. Financial assistance is provided but there is oftentimes a delay between accepting children and receiving funds to help support them.
A community foster closet attempts to bridge this gap. We hope to act as a resource that foster/kinship families can quickly visit upon receiving a placement and get items these children need such as: clothing, shoes, carseats, and other basic needs, free of charge. Through the generous donation of these items from our local community, foster families will be able to use their own resources in other ways while the children are in their homes.
Seeking to follow Christ's example to love our neighbor as ourselves and to take care of orphans, the Joy Closet is a tangible way that people in our community can share their resources with others who will be greatly impacted by them.
MEET THE TEAM
Founder & Executive Director
Meet Heather! She is the wife of Marcus and the mother of Raeleigh, Josie and Hallie! In 2015, Heather and Marcus felt called to adopt out of foster care. They didn't exactly know what this would look like, but they began on the journey. In the spring of 2018, they welcomed their first placement of two and those girls became forever Grays in 2019! This birthed Heather's love for foster care. She was on the board of directors for the Heart Gallery of Tennessee as well as on the board of directors for the Upper Cumberland Foster Closet.
In May 2021, Heather felt called back home to the Hopkinsville area to open a foster closet, similar to the Upper Cumberland Foster Closet. She understands the needs that foster/kinship families have from first hand experience as a foster parent and as a support to foster/kinship families. Her goal with Joy Closet is for all parents and kids to have their needs met both tangibly and non tangibly. She absolutely loves using her gifts of hospitality to love on others!
Meet Tressy! She is the wife of Gerame and the mom of Tate, Tucker, Trent, Tycen, Josey and Jillian! She has a degree in education and taught for several years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. In 2018, when their youngest at the time was 8 years old, Tressy began to feel God calling her to adoption. She talked to Gerame about it and he was on board from the beginning! They began the process is early 2019 and brought sweet Jillian home from China in January of 2020.
The process of adoption opened Tressy’s eyes to the needs of children not only around the world, but also right here in our community. She has a heart for all children and is honored and excited to have been asked to serve on the board for the Joy Closet. She is looking forward to doing whatever she can to love, support and encourage foster, kinship and adoptive families in any way possible!
Closet & Finance Director
Meet Kristi! She is married to Ryan & together they have a beautiful, blended family. She has worked with small children all her adult life. This gave her the opportunity to stay home and raise her own family. In 2015, she received an unexpected phone call from DCBS to foster her great nephews. She was told she had 15 minutes to arrive at their current location, or the boys would be placed into the DCBS’s custody and likely separated. She called her husband on the way to the location. Ryan’s reply was simply “If it were me, I would want someone to pick me up”. So that is exactly what she did. The boys have been with Ryan & Kristi since that day with their Adoption being finalized in April 2019. Adoption chose the Pryor’s & they feel extremely Blessed for this opportunity.
When Kristi was asked to become a part of Joy Closet, she felt very honored. Kristi knows the struggle to provide for a child(ren) without notice. There were times when Ryan & Kristi just needed someone to relate and/or validate their journey. Kristi’s hope is for Joy Closet to provide the basic necessities and support for families in similar situations. She hopes the with Joy Closet opening, more families will feel supported and encouraged to open their homes and hearts to the many children that are without placements. Everyone can help with fostering in some way, every child deserves to have a safe, secure home setting to thrive within.
Melinda is married to Ron and mother to Shelby. She has been a social worker since 1993. She obtained her BSW from Murray State University and after several years of working, she earned her MSW from Western Kentucky University. In 1993, she began working for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She began on the frontline doing child abuse/neglect investigations. Later she worked in the area of foster care/adoption. Altogether she worked worked for the Cabinet for 29 years. Fifteen of those years were spent working with foster families. She saw the great need for support services to foster families and was a strong advocate for those she worked with. She retired in October 2022. After taking a short break, she came on board at Joy Closet as the Programs Director.
She is very honored to work for Joy Closet and continue to provide services to foster and kinship families. She hopes to use her years of experience and knowledge to help develop programs that will provide support for teens aging out of the foster care system and children in crisis.
Development & Events Director
Meet Heather! Her heart is “love big and shine bright.”She has been an advocate for life for the last 12 years. Healed from addiction and self destruction almost 19 years ago she knows that every life is precious, valuable and worth rescuing. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future." She believes we get to be the hands and feet of hope to a hurting world and rescue those who have been left behind.
She is very excited about what is to come at Joy Closet. You can’t out dream God!
Eagle Fly Program
Meet Mari! He has been devoted to youth ministry throughout his whole life. Mari went into foster care at the age of 14 and spent just under a year within the system. It changed his life for the better. He was taken in by an amazing family, and while there, he developed musical skillsets and came to know some of the most selfless and loving people he’d ever encounter. Once out of foster care, Mari saw the need for a more loving approach comparing to the lawfulness of the system. He understood that a very small percentage of individuals in his shoes are/were not as blessed as he was.
Mari has a huge heart for youth and it grows every time he sees more in need. Mari spoke at Joy Closet’s Vision dinner and was overjoyed to know that he would be blessed with the opportunity to share his story and express the need for such a cause as Joy Closet’s. He now joins Joy Closet as one of their Eagle Fly Program managers. He’s ecstatic to see how he can help grow, progress and improve the communities we live and serve in by mentoring this upcoming generation.
Meet Emily! She is the wife of Hopkinsville native Zach and the mother to a sweet baby boy due July 2023. Emily is originally from Bowling Green. She has a degree in Child and Family Studies from Western Kentucky University and currently she is enrolled at The University of Kentucky to obtain her Master in Social Work. Emily has worked in the field of early childhood education for the last 10 years. She is excited to join the Joy Closet team and continue to work with children of all ages and their families.