Student concerned about foster care, budget cuts

NEIGHBORS

December 29, 1993|By PAT BRODOWSKI

Last spring, Craig Giles, a teacher at North Carroll Middle School, encouraged his eighth-grade class to write letters to Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

For student Joy Edwards, foster care was what she knew firsthand.

"My parents became foster parents about a year and a half ago," Joy says. Since the family includes a 3-year-old foster child, she said, "Foster care is something I care a lot about.

"I wrote about foster care and social services" in her letter to Mr. Bartlett, she said. "I said because of budget cuts, children who are sent to foster homes are returned to their former homes and shouldn't be. [I wrote] because I see a lot of kids who are hurt [by returning to abusive parents] or going from foster home to foster home."

Mr. Giles, and his wife, Lois, are the coordinators for the Carroll County Lutheran Brotherhood Branch No. 8521's activity in the national "Respecteen" program. This includes an annual "Speak For Yourself" contest that encourages seventh- and eighth-graders to speak out about social issues.

Mr. Giles told his class he would forward the letters they wrote to "Speak For Yourself." One teen would be chosen from each state and Washington to spend a week in Washington.

Joy was chosen as the Maryland winner.

"I didn't think a lot about winning when I was writing," she said. "I was surprised."

The 51 Respecteen winners convened last spring in Washington, where they met senior politicians. Joy met privately with Mr. Bartlett, who represents Maryland's 6th District.

"I had my conference, about 20 minutes," she said.

"It was really fun meeting people from other states," she said. "We got to see a lot of things kids my age don't get to see, like judicial buildings and the Congress."

In November, at the annual Lutheran Brotherhood Carroll County branch dinner, Joy was one of the honored guests. She spoke about what she had written.

She met Mr. Bartlett again and received a $50 savings bond and a plaque recognizing "the insight and concern shown regarding the issues and problems facing the young people of this community, city and state."

Joy is now a freshman at North Carroll High School, where she sings in the choir and takes college-preparatory courses. Another surprise arrived recently: an invitation to join an international People To People program, to be held this summer for three weeks in Ireland and Great Britain. It's a program she'd have to pay for on her own.

She wants to go.

"It's to visit some people who actually live there, and to visit castles, go on tours," Joy said. "I think one kid from each state [will go]. I've sent for more information."

+ Is Joy usually an outspoken

young woman? "It depends," she said. "For some things, yes."

*

It's a vacation for you. But what about Bowser?

Bowser just might know Kimberly Martin will come to play. Mrs. Martin's clientele speaks in barks, meows and chirps. She's a pet sitter who takes her services to where the pets are comfortable -- their own home.

"It's very hard to kennel an animal," says Mrs. Martin, who has seen, and heard, kennels filled with excited dogs.

"If a dog stays at home, it's less stress [for the animal]," she says. Home care ensures that pets "are comfortable and on the same diet, the same schedule."

During Christmas, Mrs. Martin cared for a kitten and a puppy. "It's not a well-traveled holiday," she says. "It's a breather. Over // Thanksgiving I had 10 pets. It was a hoot. I'm only one person. I try to limit it to have time to spend with each animal.

"I can appreciate someone who would give loving attention to my animals. They're my pseudo-children," she says. "It's a big honor that people let me watch their pets."

She interviews pets and their owners before the vacation begins. She keeps complete records on the pet from food, snacks and medications to favorite toys and emergency numbers to call. For a long separation, she'll give a mid-vacation update by telephone to the owner.

"I've noticed it's more relaxing for the pet," she says. "It makes you feel really good when you come back and they're happy."

PD Home visits for cats include feeding, watering, litter box care,

plus talk and time for play. She visits 30 minutes with a cat once a day; for dogs, twice a day.

Chances are that animals under her care won't trash the house before her next visit. If they do, she spends extra time with the pet. Mrs. Martin also knows how to help circumvent what she calls the "puppy hissies."

"I recommend the owner take something they won't mind the puppy chewing up, and [the owner] sleeping with it," she says. During the owner's absence, she has discovered, "usually the puppy will curl up on it into the tiniest knot. It's amazing what a difference it makes with their separation anxiety."

Mrs. Martin has spent most of her life with animals, beginning with dairy goats and Future Farmers of America membership, to current volunteering with the Carroll County 4-H Dog Program and volunteer work at the Baltimore County Humane Society.

Now she schedules her animal visits between work on th50-acre family pig farm off Marshall Mill Road in Hampstead and work selling insurance. "For me, it's something I love to do," she says. "For the pet owner, it's something they can depend on."

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