We're working on our future plans, mapping out next steps and know that it's time to reflect. To see everything that the Lord has been doing since we began this journey in 2015. We wrote it out for ourselves, like stones of remembrance (Joshua 4), and now we want to share with you. Below are our significant moments, ones that changed our trajectory and ones that allowed us to move forward. There were so many little moments, so many little introductions along the way that aren't listed but we know that God has been faithfully walking us through each step. Thank you for walking this journey with us! We can't wait to share the future plans soon!
2015 - A Year of Saying “Yes”
In 2015 Miriam attended 21 Project, a leadership training school from Circuit Riders and YWAM. At this school God laid it on her heart to begin a ministry involving storytelling and reconciliation, where orphaned youth would be able to tell their story through photography and encounter God as they learned of His love for them. As the vision grew over 3 weeks of training it became “Empty Frames”, a discipleship program for orphaned and vulnerable youth exiting state care in Eastern Europe. The ministry was officially launched at the Together For Adoption 2015 conference.
-21 Project conference / God laying it on Miriam’s heart
-Sharing with family and close friends, reconfirming
-Set up legal w/ help from Toccoa Falls College professor
-"Initiative" was added to the name
-Launched at the T4A conference
-Launched the blog (informing about the need worldwide)
2016 - A Year of Finding our Place & Getting ready
In 2016 Empty Frames Initiative gained an official board of 5 members. During this year the legal framework was finished, the 501(c)3 submitted, and a tour was started to tell other people about the proposed project. During this time the EFI team met with several local non-profits and workers in similar fields who shared that the need for this type of program was evident in Raleigh, NC. Through God’s grace EFI refocused our short term goals to North Carolina, with the larger goal of international expansion still on our plans. During 2016 EFI saw a clear piece missing from the orphan care community and began to understand our role in the larger picture: Empowering and breaking cycles in a pivotal moment, the time of transition between foster care and independence.
-Got board in place / began board meetings
-Developed “Overture” film
-Began “Overture” Tour
-Visited Patrick Henry College, Toccoa Falls College, Emory University
-Attended/had a booth at the Chosen for Life conference in Georgia
-Attended CAFO conference
-Connected with anti-trafficking groups in Raleigh
-Refocused our immediate goal to the U.S.
-Submitted the paperwork and received our 501(c)3 status from the IRS (it's a big deal, so we said it twice)
-Held Expedition : Raleigh!
2017 - A Year of Solidifying Connections
In 2017 Empty Frames Initiative solidified our connection with local and international nonprofits. Through an interview series with SaySo (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out) EFI highlighted the stories of 3 individuals who aged out of the foster care system in connection with SaySo. Participation continued with anti-trafficking groups. EFI was able to hire an accountant and begin to fiscally sponsor a similar non-profit based out of San Antonio, Texas. A full proposal was written for the Raleigh site and homes were considered. Sites in China and Russia were visited and collaboration between those groups (Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village, China and The Harbor, St. Petersburg, RU) was solidified.
-Did video project with SaySo
-Connected with / sponsored “Become” out of San Antonio
-Attended Raleigh “Connection Day”, where we met local social workers and other non-profits that affirmed our mission
-Found potential home here
-Established a budget estimate for a home that meets our needs
-Wrote full proposal for NC site
-Visited facilities in China and Russia
2018 - A Year of Inviting People In
For 2018 we are faithfully moving forward, resting in God's timing. We have a large project coming up, The Story of Foster Care, which will utilize the photography curriculum we've developed for our programs. This project will have the voice of Foster Care Allumni, Foster Parents and Social Workers, all coming together to tell their stories through photography. We plan to use these photos to curate a collection for a traveling exhibition and to compile the collection in photo book! Other goals for this year:
-Developing our strategic plan with Mission Triangle
-Continuing to learn more about mental health and it's affects on the foster care cycle
-Inviting the community to partner with us through the Story of Foster Care
Be on the lookout for our next post, "Looking Forward"!