'Discovering Comfort Cases' by Emma Friedman
The following piece was submitted by Emma Friedman. Ms. Friedman is a college student who was so moved by our founder Rob Scheer’s book “A Forever Family” and Comfort Cases’ mission she wanted to share her thoughts.
Although a mundane, day to day, or for some a minute to minute activity, I actively remember scrolling through Facebook videos a few years ago, probably clicking a social rights or cute animal video that had been labeled “very liberal” and therefore had ended up in my page’s algorithm. The latest feature update to Facebook was the automatic play of the next video in a queue. And I was captured by what came next.
Rob’s voice began to animate images of farm animals and children he spoke of, capturing my attention and holding it for an entire five to six minutes. His own children ran happily through a field of barnyard animals, and I watched endless smiles and happy hands reach out to pat goat heads. The video pictured the Scheer kids and the instant gratification of animal love, while simultaneously, Rob voiced the byproduct of their home farm: learning responsibility by taking care of living, breathing animals and maintaining their environment. All arranged by Rob and Reece, because they believed it held the possibility of positively impacting one of their sons who has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Flash forward to what in hindsight looked to be a Comfort Cases packing party, and I watched children and adults assemble cases of clothing, books and journals alongside an in-depth explanation about why exactly these backpacks matter so much. These backpacks were going to replace trash bags, providing worthwhile transport for existing possessions, and also gift the normal necessities of everyday life to kids who should have had them from the very beginnings of their childhoods. Rob spoke of the disbelief he felt when he welcomed his own four children from the foster care system, and discovered that foster kids were still given trash bags to carry their things in, even after almost 20 years since Rob had been part of the foster system himself.
Rob, Reece and the board of Comfort Cases wanted to restore dignity to children by assembling possessions within carrying cases that reflected the humanity of foster children. I watched a couple transform the lives of their own children, and a family transform the lives of their community. The compassion I saw reflected in the mission of Comfort Cases touched me, as it had so clearly trickled down from the hearts and minds of people who knew the impact a little kindness could make in the lives of children.
A few years later, I would never have imagined I’d be greeting Rob Scheer in my family room, as a lucky member of his first official book club appearance as an author. Who knew he was local? Apparently targeted Facebook videos and my mom. As he walked into my family room, he towered above all the book club ladies, radiating kindness and gentleness as he greeted everyone, shaking hands, and took his seat of honor in our big brown recliner. He read several book passages and answered questions about topics from his life experiences to the book writing process.
I read A Forever Family in one week’s worth of metro rides. A most personal account of disastrous circumstances a child can find themselves born into, and the beautiful journey of a man who formed his own family, and built his life to selflessly change kids’ futures for the better. I loved reading and crying for every page of this story, both sad and happy. As a person who learned simplistic and concise journalistic writing, I loved the writing style of A Forever Family. I felt it was written in a format digestible by anyone, which I think is so important for this story, because it allows the mobility of Rob’s life experiences to be accessible. Accessible to adults, but more importantly to children, who may find themselves in similarly difficult situations, and can then read about how they could mobilize to change their own lives for the better like Rob. I was struck by the raw emotion and disclosure of personal details in the story, but also by Rob’s perseverance. I was born into a family that supports me financially and emotionally and I never had to worry about where I would live, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as motivated, as determined or the producer of a more joyful smile than Rob.
We love hearing from our supporters and volunteers, agencies, foster parents, youth in foster care, and others impacted by our mission. If you would like to submit a post for this “Fostering Change” blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.