Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner helps foster families

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 11:17 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Laurie Sherrill has a heart for children.

“How did you get to be so small,” she reads from a book to a group of children gathered at Forest Home Church of the Nazarene.

Sherrill and her husband have raised three of their own children.

But, it’s what she does here once a month on Friday and Saturday nights that’s truly amazing.

“Laurie runs a great ship,” said Tonya Wright, a Jonesboro foster parent.

A ship on dry land called “The Ark.”

“The name, ‘The Ark,’ comes from the idea that we want to protect the families just as Moses’ mother made an ark of bullrushes in the King James version of the Bible to put baby Moses in to protect him from being killed as a baby. He was floated down the river and fostered by Pharaoh’s daughter,” said Sharon Stallings, a long-time volunteer at the Ark. “All of the kids, it’s not long until they realize everybody’s in the same boat here.”

They’re all in foster care or the children of foster care parents.

“Words can’t say how much we appreciate her,” Jason Wright said of Sherrill. “We really look forward to spending time together, just us, to do the things that we need to take care of, even Christmas shopping.”

Wright and his wife, Tonya, have opened their home to many foster children over the past ten years.

“I wish everyone had a Laurie Sherrill,” Tonya Wright said. “She knew people who were fostering, and she knew how hard it was, and so she wanted to give them a break.”

And that break all started with a question to another foster family.

“It was an elderly couple in their 60s,” Stallings said. “I said, ‘Is there anything that we can help you to do?’ She said, ‘Well, my husband and I haven’t been out to eat dinner in years.’”

So Sherrill, who had a degree from the University of Notre Dame, set to work.

“Wherever the Lord has you... He has something for you to do, and you really just need to look around,” Sherrill said.

She found volunteers who even come from other churches to help.

“They have a Thanksgiving meal,” Stallings said. “It is brought in by another church that we partner with.”

“In these three hours, we want them to get a lot of personal attention, a lot of eye contact, a lot of time spent listening to them,” Laurie said. She advised that volunteers are told to leave their children at home so they can focus solely on the children at The Ark.

And we listened to when people nominated Laurie for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.

“It’s amazing to think that over 500 children, you have influenced their lives,” I tell Laurie and a crowd of volunteers gathered for her big surprise. “And you help those parents along their journey. That’s why you are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.”

“I feel so honored and really want to encourage people to just look around and find something small you can do to help someone have a better day,” she said.

Laurie looks for ways to help beyond The Ark. She helps deliver lunches to children in the summer and has a Wednesday night ministry called “Hope for Kids” at the Caraway Commons and Allen Park Community Center. She volunteers at City Youth Ministries and regularly teaches teens at Forest Home Church of the Nazarene.

“Four hundred, five, six, seven, eight. 408 dollars,” I count into Laurie Sherrill’s hand.

“All the things you do is truly an act of kindness,” Coach David Daniel said. Daniel represented First Community Bank during this Saturday evening surprise.

“She wants God to get the glory for it,” Stallings said. “And He does. So many people come to us and say how much they appreciate just this little bit of help.”