Fostering children, fostering hope
By Senior Airman Thomas Karol, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 17, 2019
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
The saying “treat others the way you want to be treated” is often told to children at a young age. Some take that advice to heart and work a little to make a difference, others go much further.
Staff Sgt. Jordan Combs, a 28th Bomb Wing administration executive support specialist, is doing his part with little kids while making a big difference. Alongside his wife, Malory, he is a foster parent trying his best to make a difference in the lives of children so they can learn to love and grow in a safe place.
“Our goal with the children is always to show them what healthy love looks like,” Jordan said. “Because of the trauma … they have experienced, they have a skewed perspective of family and love.”
The Combs’ are opening a “ranch” for foster children to provide a family-friendly and nurturing environment for children to grow and just be kids. Their goal is to help alleviate struggles within the foster care system, and provide a safe space for children that is tailored to their needs.
What they have found through their journey is that foster children can find it hard after they have been separated from their [biological] families. Although the system does its best to care for them, the amount of children and cases system workers are handling makes that difficult.
“We have met many great foster families in our journey, but everyone involved, the kids, parents, foster parents, case workers, and the courts are extremely overwhelmed,” Jordan said. “It is a really overburdened system. We started realizing that, without a large amount support, kids don’t have much opportunity to just be kids. We looked at other ranches across the country and narrowed down a model to use our nonprofit organization as an umbrella of support for foster families in a centralized community.”
To be a parent or foster parent requires three things: patience, understanding and no small amount of love Mallory exclaimed. For those who take care of foster children, but don’t have a ranch, but they will help children with any resources they can get.
Living on base has provided the Combs’ with an abundance of resources and assistance with their foster children.
“We have had kids go to Vacation Bible School at the Chapel, the Child Development Center for day care, [and] play sports through the Youth Center,” Jordan said. “We have [also] used the Women Infants and Children office as well. We go to the PRIDE Hangar often to burn off energy [and] enjoy the comforts of base housing and knowing that it is safe. The military treats all of our kids like they are part of the family!”
Mallory expressed her genuine liking for living on base. To her, the Commissary is very convenient and the Chapel is very helpful. She also enjoys having the Holbrook Library so she can take the kids to read and participate in the activities they have to offer. These resources make taking care of a larger amount of children much easier, she said.
Most of the community options on the installation help the family with keeping their kids active. The Youth Center plans trips for children so they can go out and see their community and meet others. This base support helped shaped the goals the Combs’ have with their ranch.
“We have a lot planned,” Jordan said. “The kids will be able to grow up around horses, chickens, bees and other farm animals. We want to partner with local businesses to support activities for the kids, and with mentors that can help assist families in bigger activities, like ski trips and vacations!”
The Combs’ have a few main points to focus on with their ranch.
“The three main components of the ranch are individual homes built for foster families, cultural awareness activities and education, and ranching,” Jordan said.
Whether or not someone has access to a ranch for foster kids doesn’t mean they have less capacity to show children love.
“I’m extremely grateful for all the help and opportunities we have been given to help take care of these kids,” Mallory said. “I’m very excited to see what we can do to make the lives of children better and teach them there are people out there who love them and will treat them with kindness.”