Founded in Phoenix, AZ, Thrive opened its doors in August of 2016, and has made it their mission to change the lives of countless families for the better. Thrive AZ has played an integral role in the foster care prevention and biological family reunification by connecting deserving families with critical resources and support that would otherwise be out of reach.
As a volunteer about 5 years ago, Thrive AZ founder, Teri Vogel, was working with a young woman who was dealing with a crisis pregnancy. She was dealing with domestic violence, substance abuse, a history of trauma – trying to beat all of these things. She was six months pregnant, and Teri was working with her as an advocate to help reunite her with her six other children that were in foster care.
Teri and her husband, Steve, were new empty-nesters and had downsized. One day, this mother she was working with called to tell her that she was at the hospital and had just had her baby. She told Teri that DCS was on their way to remove her infant son, and she asked Teri if there was any way she could take the baby for her. So Teri called her husband and said, ‘we’re going to get a baby tonight.’ Naturally, his response was ‘… what?’ But by about 8.30 that night, DCS had completed all of their background checks and deemed them suitable as a kinship family. So this four-day-old infant was dropped off to them with nothing but a car seat.
Fast forward a bit, and over time Teri and Steve were able to move the mom into a temporary home, connect her with food pantries, help her find employment, and other resources she would need—and slowly reunite her with her infant son and her six other children. It was this woman and her family that showed Teri the challenges. Teri knew why they were removed… they didn’t have beds, they didn’t have enough food, they were sleeping in cars. At that point, she couldn’t unknow it.
That’s where the passion came from. Walking with this mother and seeing all of the missing pieces that had to come together for her to get back on track. Our work with Thrive AZ comes from a very deep place in our hearts because we were a part of that journey.
Now lets fast forward to 2019, where Thrive OK was born! Pastors and leaders from The Church of Acts in Oklahoma City attended a leaders conference held in Phoenix, AZ, where they also caught the heart and vision for the Thrive ministry. They knew the need was great in Oklahoma and wanted to do everything possible to help and be a part. After another visit back to Arizona in May, Teri and her team graciously extended their team and resources to help train and expand the ministry for an even further reach!
As foster parents themselves, and lead pastors of The Church of Acts, Bryon and Abby Akerman have a heart to surround the foster care system and the youth aging out with love and dedication. By partnering with the community and available resources, they know that Thrive OK will have a big impact in foster care prevention, biological family reunification, and those aging out of foster care.