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Pope Security Forces adopts foster families for tour

  • Published
  • By Emily Smith
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 43rd Security Forces Squadron and North Carolina Department of Social Services hosted a picnic for Cumberland County foster children and their families June 25 at Woodland Park. Units from both Pope and Fort Bragg came out to support the picnic's nearly 80 attendees. Among the attractions were a smokehouse simulation, an ambulance and fire truck for the children to explore, a visit from McGruff the Crime Dog, and a tour of a C-130, a rare treat for even the attending adults. 

43rd SFS began working with DSS in December to help make the holiday season memorable for the children in foster care. Service members and social workers alike were so touched with the response they decided to continue their working relationship. 

This particular event had been in the planning process since April. The purpose of the picnic was not only to show the foster children and their families how much the community cares but to provide them with a unique learning experience. Sgt. John Searor, 43rd SFS, commented that the picnic was a chance to give back to the community and show the children what Pope is all about. 

"Being a positive role model for the children is a very rewarding aspect," Sergeant Searor said. 

Tech. Sgt. Steven Kennedy, 43rd SFS and one of the coordinators of the event, has worked closely with DSS since their relationship began. "We asked ourselves 'What can we do for the community?'" Sergeant Kennedy said. "We're in a position where we can do this. We have the support, but we can do so much more. You don't often see the end result in a deployment, but you can get one-on-one involvement in this situation." 

Col. John McDonald, 43rd Airlift Wing Commander, joined in the festivities. The picnic was kicked off with a few heartfelt words from him. "I'm so happy that you chose to come out and spend the day with us at Pope," the Colonel said. "We couldn't ask for a better day." 

"It takes a huge heart to do what you do. You really make a difference," Colonel McDonald said, recognizing all the volunteers. "Give yourselves a pat on the back."
Social Worker Sandra Robinson has been employed by DSS for 18 years and has been working with foster care and adoption for eight years. 

"These types of events demonstrate to me, my foster and adoptive parents and the children that we are not alone in this struggle," Mrs. Robinson said. "We really enjoyed all the activities that were available to us. The dog demonstration was really exciting, and the tour of the C-130 was also very special as many of our kids have never actually been on an aircraft. The Pope fire department also provided a very important educational piece by making the smokehouse available. Our children not only had fun but learned some important safety tips as well." 

Foster and adoptive parents Thomas and Katie Fulmore were at the picnic with their two children, Tatiana who is still in the foster program and Carlos, who is legally adopted by the Fulmores. The Fulmores first became foster parents five years ago. Since then, four children have passed under their roof. Thomas remembers when it felt most real that he and his wife had adopted a son. 

"We adopted Carlos and he came home with us in the evening," Thomas explained. 
"When he woke up on his first morning with us, he was calling us Mom and Dad. That settled it." 

Both Thomas and Katie were thankful for the picnic and the chance for the children to get to experience something totally new and exciting. "Events like these let us know that people other than us are concerned with the children," Mrs. Fulmore said. "It's comforting." 

Pope and DSS have another event planned for December. Mrs. Robinson is thankful for Pope's involvement. "Thank you to all of you for getting involved with us," she said. "Working with Pope has been a rich experience for me and my co-workers. The Airmen of the 43rd Security Forces Squadron are professional and compassionate. The Cumberland County Department of Social Services is looking forward to a long relationship with the military here at Pope."