Fostering Hope

NJ Angels’ Kim Wilkisson shares her bigger purpose with NJ Angels

Article by Don Seaman

Photography by Kim Wilkisson

Originally published in Wayne Lifestyle

For a child in foster care, there may be no more important gift than hope.

For Kim Wilkisson, finding a way to share that gift became her calling.

After a lifetime in sales and marketing and owning her own local business, Kim was looking for a bigger purpose. Her first foray was certainly bigger, but a world away, a charity for elephants in Sri Lanka. But she added a new mandate closer to home when she found NJ Angels, the state’s chapter of a national nonprofit dedicated to reinventing what foster care can be.

“There’s a statistic that really got to me — nationally, 50% of the homeless population have spent time in foster care. Through no fault of their own, they wind up in this system. I really wanted to help make a difference in these children’s lives.  It’s time to change the stats!”

When we think of “foster children,” we imagine broken homes, negligent parents, and problem children. We often turn a blind eye to the trauma suffered by the innocent, acknowledging that there’s a need but not offering that hope that’s gone missing. NJ Angels are working hard to change that narrative.

The label of “foster children” is stigmatizing. The correct description is “children in care.” Improving lives isn’t helped by branding them with a stigma. Everything NJ Angels does has an all-embracing spirit of positivity for every child, every family, every volunteer. Removing the negative cloud that permeates the situation is a start.

“Everyone can make a difference,” Kim points out. “It’s not just the foster families. It’s the scores of volunteers who want to give back, even in small ways. Mechanics who will help donate time to help foster families fix broken cars. Organizations will donate tickets for events.  Bakeries who will provide birthday cakes for kids who may have never celebrated them. People will simply come a few times a month to just hold babies or take kids sledding. We support the foster family holistically because everyone’s needs are different.”

Foster care isn’t a punitive experience, or at least that shouldn’t be the conclusion. Children in care end up in that situation for a myriad of circumstances. “Some of the most heartbreaking situations end up with the most heartwarming results,” Kim says. “Seeing broken families reunited when things improve is a powerful thing to watch.”

The hard fact is that 50% of foster homes close within a year, as foster families cite a feeling of isolation and often don’t have support. New Jersey Angels step in with volunteers, who through intentional giving and mentorship, build relationships with these families and children. This support is transformational, turning an impossible situation into a future filled with success, with pride. They help give them chances, to graduate from high school, to go to college, to live out dreams instead of nightmares.

It all begins with trust. Children living in these situations often have none. Entering into foster care is painful for any child, no matter the circumstances. Usually, children will desperately want to remain in a situation they know, even if they’re hungry, or neglected, or abused. The unknown is scary for everyone, particularly for a child. Foster care will never be ideal. But it can be necessary to restore hope and offer a chance to heal from despair.

They need to learn how to build that trust in others, sometimes for the first time in their lives.  NJ Angels give that potential, without reservation.

“For a child to trust you — that’s a gift.”

For Kim, her bigger purpose is a gift far bigger than an elephant.

Kim Wilkisson is North Jersey’s case manager for NJ Angels. To reach out to Kim and get involved, she can be reached at

Everyone can make a difference.

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