Virginia Beach nonprofit looks to grow local foster community, find homes for kids in need

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Posted at 12:20 PM, May 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-08 18:55:48-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - When we say "Happy Mother's Day," who are we talking to? Yes, moms who gave birth to us — but many times a mother's journey starts after a child is born.

Foster families are in great need where we live. A local nonprofit is aiming to find more moms for kids who need a little more love and support.

Joy Rios and her son Will Rodriguez don't have the typical story.

"I have great parents, I have a great family. A lot of kids don't really have that," Will told News 3's Anthony Sabella.

Will lost his birth mom and spent time in foster care before meeting Rios.

"I was about to be put into a group home at age 17, and she just kind of took the wheel and then helped me through everything," he explained.

Rios' introduction to fostering began years before, when she and her husband adopted their daughter — a baby briefly in the care of a foster mom.

"I thought [she] was an actual angel walking the earth who took my daughter in," Rios said.

And so the seed was planted. Years later, Rios now runs Connect With a Wish in Virginia Beach. The nonprofit supports local foster children and foster families in all ways possible.

Connect With a Wish provides clothes, money and things for the house, but right now, Rios says the biggest need is for more families to open their homes.

To help, Connect With a Wish is opening its doors at its North Landing Road location for an open house this Thursday. The hope is to get more people involved in the local foster community.

"I have people all the time asking me, 'What does it take? Can I do this? Can you be a foster parent if you're single?' People have all kinds of questions, and I think they just don't know who to ask," Rios said. "Come in, ask the questions, we will also have veteran foster parents here all day."

The organization is also joining Give Local 757 for a 24-hour day of giving to charities around Hampton Roads this Tuesday. Rios says it's the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year.

The goal is to help make a difference in more kids' lives and give them support as they age out of the system — another major need, Rios says.

Her son Will, now an adult, is aging out of the system with his mom in his corner.

"Having that foster mom that I can really have that relationship with is just outstanding," Will said. "I couldn't be happier to call Miss Joy my mom."

"Families come in all shapes and sizes and being a mom is the most important thing that's ever happened to me," Rios added.

The Connect With a Wish open house will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday.

If you'd like to support the charities taking part in Give Local 757, click here.