“Some stay forever. Some are with you for only a weekend, a week, a month. But each one leaves an impression on your heart.”
That’s just one of the many things Jeff Westcott has learned while caring for more than 30 foster children with his family over the last 13 years.
Westcott also knows that try as he might, he can’t host every child in need. But with InVest in Youth (IVY), he can reach a lot more of them.
Westcott launched IVY with his wife and another couple in January 2019, to provide life-changing programs and resources to vulnerable children and their caregivers.
‘There is a wonderful, and sometimes unnoticed, segment of every town—these kids, their biological families, and the families that open their hearts and homes.’
—Jeff Westcott, owner of Westcott & Copley Insurance
An important resource
In just over a year IVY has become a vital resource for youth going into foster, kinship, or adoptive care, having served about 200 youth so far, according to Jess Jurczuk.
Jurczuk and her husband, foster parents themselves, are the other half of IVY’s founding team—and she was astounded at the immediate community response.
“Even before we were advertising or promoting what we were doing, people were approaching us to see what they could do to help,” Jurczuk said. “It was incredible.”
Shopping, mentoring, and more
IVY provides a variety of support services for these children, including something many of us take for granted—the ability to have your own belongings with you. Through an on-site shopping experience at the IVY facility in Norwalk, Ohio, they can select clothes, bedding, wall art, toys, and other items to take with them as they move into care.
Additionally, IVY provides mentoring and tutoring services for in-care youth, along with support groups, foster-parent recruitment and a social-media network for children and families.
Perhaps most important, Westcott and his fellow IVY founders are strong advocates in the community. “We are putting our message out to officials and organizations,” he said. “The Department of Job and Family Services refers families in transition to us. We’ve made presentations to our local congressman, teachers’ associations, multiple schools, and churches. They all can play a role in setting these kids and families up for success.”
‘A positive and lasting impact’
The Westcott & Copley staff plays a big role, too. “They are well-known in our community for their willingness to help,” Jurczuk said, “and for making a positive and lasting impact in the lives they touch.”
A 2020 Make More Happen Award will help extend that impact. The award typically includes a donation of $5,000 and the opportunity to win another $5,000 through engagement on social media; however, in light of the current health and economic challenges across the country, Liberty Mutual and Safeco are donating the full $10,000 immediately to InVest in Youth on behalf of Westcott & Copley Insurance.
“When we began fostering, we realized that there is a wonderful, and sometimes unnoticed, segment of every town—these kids, their biological families, and the families that open their hearts and homes,” Westcott said.
“We know it’s not possible for everyone to be a foster parent, but with IVY, it’s possible for anyone to support foster children.”