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Director's Message

Dear Friends,

Are you loving summer in northern Michigan? Are you jamming your calendar up so tight you barely have time to breathe? And does it feel like the season is moving even faster than usual?

I took a vacation day recently, and I decided to really take a vacation—from my phone, from email, from work. I read and swam and gardened and walked my dog. I let the dishes sit in the sink a while. And things really did slow down, for that moment in time.

But I felt guilty! I felt like I should have packed my day with chores and writing this message and a hundred other things that I would have otherwise accomplished, had I not decided to take a day off.

And it occurred to me that taking a day off shouldn’t be such a luxury. It should be something we ALL do regularly—to rejuvenate, to rest, to think without a thousand messages coming at us constantly.

The pace of life, and the need to fill every moment of it, is a unique characteristic of this technological age. I’m old enough to remember when technology held out the promise of more leisure time. Instead, our technology seems to be making us busier, and more harried. And perhaps even less healthy, physically and emotionally.

When I was a kid, time seemed to move at a snail’s pace. When we had the nerve to say the “B” word (“bored”) my mother would list off a dozen things I could do, from climbing the pear tree in our back yard to reach the uppermost branches for the sweet fruit, to dropping by Theo’s Party Store on the corner for a bit of candy, to “calling on” any one of the many kids on our block, to helping her with chores. I knew that if I didn’t want to help her with chores I’d better pick one of the other activities, pronto!

These days, I would never consider the word “bored” to be a bad one. The quiet times are when we can pause and reflect, reduce our stress and anxiety, get our creative juices flowing, create gratitude for what we have, and identify areas in our lives that need more attention.

These crazy (and wonderful) summer days, give yourself and the kids in your life the gift of slowing down and paying attention, and enjoy all the pleasures of a relaxed, gentle, leisurely time with people you love. That screen can wait.


Gina Aranki, Executive Director

A Lifetime of Fostering Love

The Young Family

Amy Young is no stranger to foster care. When she was growing up, her parents were licensed foster parents and her family took in countless children in need of a home. Over the years, Amy’s parents have adopted 12 children out of foster care and raised three of their own biological kids, including Amy. The experience of living in a home with foster children made a lasting impact on her. “We had a lot of kids coming in and out of our house,” Amy recalls, “and they kind of stole my heart.” 

One day, years later, Amy and her husband Tom were visiting Amy’s parents’ house. “They had been taking in respite kids,” Amy recalls, “and this little girl they were caring for came up and asked me, ‘Would you be my mommy?’ She was only five, and she was just looking for a mom.” That night, Amy couldn’t think about anything else. “At the time, I was in the process of opening a salon, but I couldn’t even sleep because of this little girl; because of all the other kids like her who were just looking for their parents.” Amy spoke to Tom about it and was thrilled to learn that he had been feeling the exact same way. “My husband was completely on board,” she says.  

So Tom and Amy began the process of getting licensed for foster care with Child and Family Services. They fostered and ultimately adopted five children in addition to having five of their own biological children. This was eighteen years ago, and today, most of Tom and Amy’s kids are grown up and out of the house. “So we talked about it,” Amy says, ”and since most of our kids were moving into adulthood, we suddenly had all this extra space again. We decided that it just made sense to reopen our foster care license.” 

Tom and Amy Young pictured with their children

But just before their license was about to be approved, the family experienced a major trauma–Tom suffered a stroke. “We had to rush him to Traverse City from Manistee, and the weather was bad,” Amy recalls. “It was a nightmare. The doctors said there was a very small chance that he would make it because too much time had elapsed since the stroke. But before he went into surgery, Tom looked at me and said, 'Don’t worry, we’re going to be ok. We’ve got more kids to help.’” 

Incredibly, Tom was right. “Everyone at the hospital said it was an absolute miracle,” Amy says, “but he came out of surgery and everything went great.” After the stroke, Tom continued to show remarkable improvement, and six months ago, the Young’s foster care license was reopened. Today, they are fostering a sibling group of four young children, in addition to raising two of their own biological kids. Amy says things at home are great, if not a little chaotic from time to time. 

“Sometimes I put pressure on myself to make everything go perfectly,” Amy says, “but that’s not really what matters. I wake up every day and I pray that God will help me to love them like Jesus does. We’re not perfect, but I don’t know that anybody is. We just do our best. That’s what it means to be a foster parent.” 

Staff Spotlight

Tracy Truschke

At CFS we regularly see boomerang workers--staff who have left to pursue other career options but later return to work at CFS again. Tracy Truschke is one of those workers. She began her career with CFS in 2013 as a foster care case manager. After about two years she left to work for TCAPS until her retirement in 2021. Tracy decided that full-time retirement was not for her, so she came back to CFS to become a licensing worker. When asked why she returned she said, "I've always had a passion to foster children, and I knew how caring and loving the staff here were. It felt like I was coming back home."

For Tracy, the most difficult part of the job is the paperwork and reporting; while she understands the need for it she would much prefer to spend that time working directly with her families and getting to know them. She commented that meeting the families that are so passionate about helping our children in need is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. “I love meeting the families that I work with.” 

Tracy knows firsthand how stressful and rewarding becoming a foster parent can be. She and her husband, Fritz, became licensed as a temporary placement home through Grand Traverse DHHS in January of 2021. Since then, they have had 10 placements. They are licensed for children aged 7-18, but so far all of their placements have been teenagers. She said that they chose to become a temporary placement home, which has an average placement length of 2 weeks to 3.5 months to help keep kids in their current school district until a more permanent placement can be arranged. Tracy stated that recently they had a young lady placed with them who was able to stay in her current school until she graduated this spring. She said this was a very positive experience.

Tracy (center) at a licensing recruitment event

Tracy uses her firsthand experiences to help prospective foster parents navigate the licensing process. When asked her favorite part of her current career she replied, “Helping them reach their goals. Since I am a licensed foster parent, I can relate to the process and our goals align.”

Aside from her love for her role as a licensing worker and foster mother, Tracy also has a passion for reading. She brings this passion with her to CFS. Through her involvement with TCAPS she is able to get free books from the Rotary Club of TC Born to Read program. She makes sure every newly licensed foster home receives books for various ages. She also supplies new books to existing foster homes when needed. 

Through her position with CFS and in her own home, Tracy has an incredibly inspiring commitment to children and youth in need. 

Click to learn more about our Foster Care Program and how you can help.

Yoga and Ice Cream!

Many thanks to Emma Loudermilk, owner of Soul Happy Kids Yoga, and Moomer's Homemade Ice Cream, who hosted Soulstice and Scoops this month, an opportunity for kids to celebrate community and the start of summer at family-favorite local hangout, Moomer's Homemade Ice Cream! Kids were invited to engage in mindful movement with a twist and enjoy a side of delicious homemade ice cream afterward. All proceeds benefited CFS. Thanks so much, Emma and Moomer's! 

Cherry Fest Parade

We had a great time walking in the National Cherry Festival Cherry Royale Parade! Thanks to all who came out to represent and support CFS. The smiles, thanks, and applause from the crowd for what we do in the community were gratifying and the kids along the route had a blast chasing after the candy!

Upcoming Events

Are you interested in becoming a foster parent or learning more about our various programs? Come see us at Friday Night Live on August 11! This popular community block party features music, entertainment, food, demonstrations, and family activities. Stop by our table (downtown Traverse City along Front street). Bring your questions and a friend. Hope to see you there!

Foster parents needed! Join us virtually to learn more. Our licensing staff will explain the process of becoming a foster parent and answer any questions you may have. The process is easier than you think! Consider helping today!

Virtual Intro To Fostering Wednesday, August 2nd, at 12pm, or August 16, at 5:30 Click to learn more and register.

A new way to donate!

Child and Family Services is partnering with B2 Outlets' 10x10 Initiative to raise funds for CFS. Shop B2 Outlets between now and 9/13/23 and receive 10% off your total purchase using this coupon. CFS will receive 10% of all proceeds raised from transactions where this coupon was used.

Have fun shopping and support CFS while you're at it! Click for a printable PDF file. And please share with family and friends!

Donate Today

Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan

3785 Veterans Drive, Traverse City | (231) 946-8975

3434 M-119, Ste F, Harbor Springs | (231) 347-4463

Pete's Place | (231) 922-4800   | 

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