Kristy Sutton and Lacy Basford founded Foster Florida to empower families on the front lines of foster care by mobilizing and equipping their communities to support them.
Kristy and Lacy’s friendship began when they met at their local church in Gainesville. Lacy had just had her second baby, and Kristy was leading the small mother’s group at their church.
In 2008, Lacy started her own business, Premier Designs Jewelry and asked Kristy to run the business with her. Over seven years, they grew the company, had over 300 employees under them, and created a huge network.
In 2012, Kristy and her husband felt called to the adoption and foster care world. With three children already and a fourth on the way, they became foster parents. Shortly after, Lacy and her husband joined them and became foster parents too.
On a Friday, they heard that their church didn’t have any plans for Orphan Sunday, a day where thousands of churches and communities around the world join to care for orphaned children. They knew they had to plan something, so they asked if they could set up a table to provide information on how to support vulnerable children in their community.
Their spontaneous table idea grew into a dream they never realized was possible. Without any planning, they held their first event to educate the community on how they can play a part in helping children in foster care and were in awe of how many attendees came.
“When you understand firsthand what the people that you’re serving are going through, that doesn’t really require a ton of strategic planning because you are living that experience every day,” Kristy said.
People began asking them to come to speak at their churches and donations continued to pile in. With God’s hand guiding, they knew it was time to start an organization they never imagined would come to be.
In 2015, Foster Florida was founded to give foster parents the ability to ask for what they need and to allow communities to serve the foster parent community.
“We’re gonna give you the power and the platform to ask for what you need so the community can then come and answer those needs in a real and tangible way,” Lacy said.
Together, they’ve served 699 families and have changed countless lives. Kristy and Lacy have both adopted three children each and have had over 70 kids through their homes in the 8 years they’ve been in foster care.
“It’s difficult to say I want to be done with this forever because you know there are kids who are right now, while we’re talking, sitting with a caseworker somewhere waiting for someone in their community to say, ‘you can sleep in my home tonight.’ That’s hard. That’s real,” Kristy said.
The nonnegotiable qualities they feel parents must have to foster children are humility, perseverance and the ability to be selfless. Lacy believes foster care is refinement. It’s continually lying down personal thoughts, hopes, dreams and desires for the sake of one child because that one child is worth it.
“If you want to make a difference for the long haul, make a difference in the life of one today, and that’s a kid right here in your backyard,” Lacy said.