City resident’s lifelong passion for orphan care

Empowering families and children

Jennifer Lake, of Williamsport, has transformed her lifelong passion for orphan care into an organization rooted in prayer that exists to support foster and adoptive families in Lycoming County, said Lake, executive director of Dwell Orphan Care. Though only officially launched in January of this year, Dwell is already working to help foster and adoptive families thrive.

Dwell is working on rolling out its Care Groups for foster and adoptive moms this month to offer support to those in need.

“This is a safe space … to network, share the struggles and celebrate the wins in a no-judgment, safe environment,” said Lake. “Dwell, along with any foster or adoptive parent, understands how difficult this journey can be.”

“We give moms a space to just ‘be,’ “ said Lake, “the only item on the agenda is confidentiality.”

With a process as rigorous and complex as adoption and fostering, support and education are crucial to helping smooth out any avoidable hiccups or headaches, and Dwell Orphan Care is there for those families in need.

To connect with foster families, Dwell has five initiatives in the works:

• Care groups for foster and adoptive moms. A group for dads is being developed.

• Birthday boxes for children in Lycoming County.

• Care packages that promote family togetherness and parental respite.

• Sponsoring community trauma informed trainings.

• Providing adoption scholarships.

Through relationship building with Lycoming County Children and Youth Services and local affiliates, Dwell Orphan Care receives need referrals, information about new family placements and upcoming child birthdays, said Lake.

Dwell Orphan Care has already helped one family who was recently matched with two young boys by offering a Care Package, said Lake. But this positivity is not without its inherent challenges. “The first few months of a new placement are stressful on anyone,” said Lake. Foster care is traumatic on children, which often leads to unfavorable, tragic outcomes.

“It is estimated that roughly 55 percent of kids in (foster) care will not graduate high school,” said Lake, and “roughly 80 percent of our prison population have spent time in foster care.”

To combat these statistics, Dwell hopes their efforts will energize the community to support and empower these families and children.

Lake wants Dwell’s work to result in kids staying longer in foster homes, which would give them more time to become emotionally healthy adults, said Lake.

The organization is hosting a Community Engagement event on April 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assemble Care Packages and Birthday Boxes, 1157 Market St., Williamsport.

Dwell understands fostering or adopting is not for everyone, but those with hearts for children in the foster and adoptive system are still able to help.

“We want (foster and adoptive families and children) to know there is a community doing their part to help kids coming from hard places and support the families blessed to be caring for them — one child, one family at a time,” said Lake.

For more information about Dwell Orphan Care, email Lake