By Joey McWilliams
Making people laugh is always something that is beneficial. After all, laughter and a merry heart does good like medicine.
And when that laughter leads to also bringing money and attention to a good cause, it is that much more beneficial.
On Jan. 27, the Tiffany Haddish comedy tour, She Ready, made a stop in Pocola at the Choctaw Casino Hotel. Haddish is a comedian and actress, who starred on television in “If Loving You Is Wrong” and recently in the movie “Girls Trip”, along with Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah.
At her stop in Pocola, Haddish made arrangements for a ‘meet and greet’ prior to the concert. The pre-event raised $5,000, which she donated to the Choctaw Nation Foster Care program.
Kat DeCaire, the recruiter for the Choctaw Nation Foster Care program, said the event and donation were wonderful and talked about one of the reasons Haddish chose to do this.
“Ms. Haddish is tied into foster care was that she herself has been through foster care,” DeCaire said. “She was a foster child. So the way she gives back is at her shows they do these Meet and Greets, where guests can meet the comedian before the show and she sells those Meet and Greets.
“Now any proceeds she makes from those sales, she donates to foster care. So with her being a performer at our Choctaw Casino, she donated her Meet and Greet profit to our Choctaw Nation Foster Care program.
“We were very grateful for her contribution to the program.”
Right now, there are 504 Choctaw children in foster care across the state of Oklahoma, with more than 300 in the 10 1/2 counties of the Choctaw Nation.
“We currently have a little over 50 resource homes,” DeCaire said. “So with the Choctaw children, there is a huge need for more foster homes.”
DeCaire said the program hosts events to boost consciousness of the needs and opportunities associated with foster care, including a free community kids fair coming up in May.
“We’ll have bounce houses and snacks and treats. We’ll have vendors there that have all kinds of kids’ games and it’s just to raise awareness for foster care.
“It’s just an opportunity for the community and anybody that is thinking about it to come out and get some information, have some fun while you’re at it. It’s really a relaxed atmosphere. To be a foster parent is a calling. And when you feel the calling, we’re here to answer any questions you may have.”
DeCaire said there are many levels of involvement for foster care, from being a resource home to simply giving an hour or two at times for babysitting or even taking a child to a doctor’s appointment or soccer practice.
And she said her department gets frequent calls about how to get involved.
“Multiple applications get sent out so we do have quite a few people that are interested in the information about fostering,” DeCaire said. “Now the process to become certified is about a 90-day process, so it is extensive. But you have your one-on-one relationships with your foster care coordinators that assist you every step of the way.
“Of course, children can never have too many people that love them. So there is absolutely a huge need for more homes that are willing to care for our tribal children.”
DeCaire said the contribution by Haddish was the first of its kind in that type of setting, but that there are many things going on to raise awareness and donations.
“We have a great community that contributes to our program quite a bit.
“And I just really appreciate the interest that we’ve had so far. If there is anybody that is interested or they even know someone that would consider it, please reach out – even if it is just a question or two just to get more information.
“Keep us in your thoughts. Talk to us. Put our name out there. And we appreciate everybody getting the word out for us.”
To receive more information about the Choctaw Nation Foster Care program, call (580) 924-8280 ext. 2643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.