Kimberly Vehon is the founder and CEO of Foster Arizona and Foster Arizona Housing Project, non-profit public charities focused on educating, encouraging, and empowering Arizonans to positively impact the lives of kids in foster care and those transitioning out of foster care. Kimberly’s background was in production and worship in local mega churches prior to turning her creative story-telling abilities and innovative leadership skills toward changing the face of foster care in Arizona. Kimberly is passionate about helping children find loving families because she has experienced the personal joy that comes from being a foster/adoptive mom. She is a proud mom of seven children and a grateful wife to an amazing husband that supports and encourages her to dream big and change the world.
Our heart-strong interviewees are women in business who have taken the talents, abilities, resources, and unique personalities God has gifted them with and created something beautiful through the work of their hands and dependency upon Him. Be encouraged, inspired, and glean savvy insight for your own creative journey from this leading lady!
And be sure to check out the life-changing work being done at fosterarizona.org.
Tell us a bit about your family, where you live, what you enjoy doing as a family, and how you love to spend some of your downtime.
I am convinced I married one of the best human beings on the planet. Brian has been on this crazy journey with me for over 16 years and has taken several free-falls of faith along the way. We have seven beautiful children; three born from my belly, four gained from the loss and beauty that is foster care—all deeply treasured. My husband is a native to Arizona and I usually say I am “close enough.” When we are not in the craziness of life with a family of nine, we love adventure of all kinds. One of my favorite things to do with the kids is load up in the car and take off to explore new places and old favorites. My kids love that they never know where we are going next.
Tell us about the beginning stages of your Foster Arizona—how and when was the idea seed first sown, then sprouted and bloomed into what it is today?
Foster Arizona would have never come to be if I had not connected with my kids through foster care. Through becoming their foster momma, their faces forever changed how I see foster care. Literally. I read a story about foster care, I see my kids. I hear a law change regarding foster care, I see my kids. I look at a photo of a kid in foster care, I see my kids. Because, at any moment in time, their story could have been different. They could have been in a group home. They could have been pictured looking for a forever family. They could have been tossed from home to home and never found stability. They could have been separated from each other. How do you walk away from that?
We had gone to a hearing and learned we would be adopting our two foster placements and I found myself driving in my car asking that very question. Can we really close our license and just walk away? Nothing about that seemed OK. Then it came to me. I worked on videos in the local church and knew I could help tell the stories of foster care to get other people to open their hearts and homes to kids. So, I made the first call to my husband. The conversation started in the same way most life-altering conversations start with us. I said, “so, I’ve been thinking…” The next call was to my friend James who worked on videos with me. “So, I’ve been thinking…” Two videos, a nonprofit filing, and a lot more “so, I’ve been thinking” conversations later, we were officially a nonprofit.
Since those early moments, we have continued to work to find more ways, through collaboration with the community and other businesses/nonprofits, to positively impact the lives of kids in foster care. It led us to launch a second nonprofit in 2018—Foster Arizona Housing Project—to expand our vision to positively impact the lives of young adults transitioning out of foster care. I truly believe that amazing things can happen when you stay focused on bettering the lives of others. That, and lots and lots of prayer.
What is the primary driving motivation behind what you do?
At first, it was my kids, but it became and continues to be the kids and community we serve. When I see one of the young adults who came into the program homeless now working, going to school, and able to see possibility, or a kiddo brought into a foster home because they connected with an adult at our event, it reminds me on the hard days that the hard is always worth it.
What has been one of the most rewarding moments you’ve personally experienced in this work?
Oh goodness, there are so many! I have gotten to see first hand how amazing our community is. Time after time people have stepped into the gap for the kids and young adults. We have seen connections made—kids finding families through videos, families starting to foster through their experience hanging out with kids in foster care, watching young adults go to college and seeing them proud of themselves, crying with one of them because they are learning a hard lesson but are not going through it alone, seeing that God truly does intend to do immeasurably more than I can imagine (which says A LOT because I imagine some pretty crazy things). And, something dear to my heart is listening to my kids talk about others with compassion because they are not just hearing about hard things people go through in this world, they are experiencing it through us getting to share with them what we are blessed to do.
What advice would you have for someone who carries a burden for a particular need and is wanting to start something to meet that need?
Do it. Don’t think of all the things you can’t do. Stop for a minute and think about all the things you can do. And, if you have some crazy idea that seems really big, start breaking it down into bite-sized pieces. What can you do today? What can you do tomorrow? My favorite quote is: “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” -Creighton Abrams and my second favorite is “Things are only impossible until they’re not.” -Jean-Luc Picard
Is there a specific Scripture that grounds what you do or is meaningful to your mission?
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NLT).
So many times I have prayed, “Okay God, I have taken it as far as I can. If You want this to happen, You’re going to have to show that You are in this.” So many times I have felt fear and found myself leaning back into that Deuteronomy verse as a reminder He will never fail or abandon me in what He has called me to do. It reminds me that the work we do is not dependent on me. I truly believe we are where we are because God has gone ahead of us and cleared a way.
What are some of the difficulties you have faced along your journey and how have you worked with the Lord to overcome them?
By the world’s standards, I don’t have any right to lead a foster care nonprofit. I don’t have a degree related to the field. I have never worked in the field before starting a nonprofit. I don’t fundraise well. Being able to clearly see all that you are lacking can be challenging. There have been times that I really question why I am here, and really insecure moments where my lack of experience has made me want to quit. But, I have had some amazing people speak into my life to normalize the challenges. They have poured life into my heart when the work has left me with a cup that is more than empty and they have reminded me that God tends to choose those who others may discount or disregard to do some pretty off-the-wall things.
When we heard so many no’s in buying Foster Arizona’s office, it was easy to be discouraged and wonder if the Lord was with us. He tends to wait until I have run out of options to show up in big ways so that there is no mistake that HE was the one who parted the seas. Whenever something does not go the way I would like or in the time frame I would prefer, all the times God has shown up reminds me He is not absent—He is just waiting to do something immeasurably more than I had planned for.
What are some of the specific gifts and abilities you feel the Lord has blessed you with that have led to the success of your business/organization/ministry?
Perseverance. One of the other go-to Scriptures for me is “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV). I sat in a Leadership Summit talk that spoke of those who have given up, not knowing if they had given up right before the miracle. God has gifted me with a faith to believe that He will show up, along with the perseverance to keep moving until He does. Further, He has given me the ability to not feel threatened by those who are better than me. I love when I am around people who are smarter in various subjects and appreciate being able to trust in their strengths and lean in together to do remarkable things.
In what way is the Lord growing and stretching you through this work in your current season?
Right now we have a goal of developing more housing for young adults transitioning out of foster care. It will require 1.2 million dollars to make that a reality. We have never needed that kind of money and I do not have a clear answer on how we are going to get there. So, we are going back to basics and eating that elephant one bite at a time, one call at a time, one conversation with an expert at a time, and will keep moving until God makes it clear by providing or closing that door.
How did God move in your heart to encourage you to move forward with this work?
This is a hard question for me because it is all the above. There are some moments that I have clearly felt the nudge of God to move or sometimes even His voice leading me with what to do. There are times that I have felt confirmation through a conversation with someone or encouragement through small or large things when we were in the middle of struggle. I try to always be looking for God to give direction. If you are living in a freefall of faith, you’ve put yourself in a perfect place to constantly need God’s confirming love to catch you. That is where I strive to stay.
For more information on getting involved in foster care or linking arms with Foster Arizona to positively impact kids, please visit fosterarizona.org.
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