by Dan Holland
One person can make a big difference in the life of a foster child, according to Just 1 founder Mary Kressler of Broadview Heights.
Mary and her husband Scott opened their home to four siblings ages 4, 3, 2 and an infant, all from the same birth mother, in 2015. After providing foster care to the siblings for nearly two years, the couple adopted all four in 2017 – two boys and two girls.
“We were living in Lorain County at that time, and we took in a sibling group of three kids,” Kressler said. “Within a few weeks, their birth mom had another one. So, we went from zero to three overnight, and then baby moved in with us six months later. In a very short amount of time, we went from zero to four kids. I was unable to have kids and we always wanted to foster and adopt.”
The youngest sibling has required numerous surgeries and all four children came from a background of neglect, according to Kressler. She requested the children’s names not be published for privacy reasons.
“I still want to help foster kids,” she added. “If we had the space, we would take them all, but we obviously can’t do that. So, I created Just 1 in November 2020. I decided I was going to find a way to do some good. I’m a stay-at-home mom now, between all the doctors’ appointments and the kids being so young and close in age.”
The company’s mission is to draw attention to the plight of local foster children. Accordingly, a portion of the apparel sales from Just 1 benefits local foster families. Those proceeds raised last year were used to purchase Christmas gifts and other much needed items, such as diapers, new clothing and books, for a local foster parent.
“It’s something that’s not talked about enough,” Kressler said. “There’s really not a whole lot of awareness or conversation about how many foster kids are available in Cuyahoga County or in Ohio. We found ourselves buying shirts all the time to support a number of causes and one day I told my husband we should do something like this for foster care because there’s no one really doing this.”
There are a number of misconceptions regarding foster children, Kressler pointed out.
“Prior to this, I had a lot of negative impressions of what foster care was and who foster care children were,” she explained. “I thought most of them were troubled teens, but the average age of a foster care child in the U.S. is 6 ½.”
She hopes that Just 1 will create a network of awareness and support.
“We named the company Just 1 because it’s opening your door to just one child,” Mary explained. “We don’t expect everyone to adopt four children like we did, but if you buy a Just 1 shirt, or foster one child, or even share our posts on social media just one time, it will help someone. We’re just a crazy family that adopted four kids, and it’s the best decision we ever made.”
Visit just-1-llc.myshopify.com for more information. The company also maintains pages on several social media platforms. ∞