For Domoniquie Conyers, foster care is personal.
After entering foster care as a youth, she witnessed the ins and outs of the system firsthand. Today, she works as a family therapist for foster families and volunteers at Three Rivers Respite.
“It’s very rewarding,” Domoniquie said. “[Three Rivers Respite is] impactful for the youth and for the adults.” She likes “getting to make a difference and to build trust and relationships, which we know is important for youth and helps build resiliency.”
The campsite, located deep in the woods of St. Johns Island, gives her the opportunity to help kids who have faced challenging circumstances—and let them be kids.
“You’re talking and engaging with them, just having fun, laughing and listening to silly stories, just bonding,” Domoniquie said.
As a mom herself, she realizes the importance of volunteering not just to engage with foster children, but to give foster parents a much-needed break.
“Sometimes as a parent you need a break to regroup, [to] relax to be your best self so that you’re providing the best for your child. It’s the same for foster care.”
While parents enjoy an evening of respite, kids start their time at the three-hour day camp by exploring different activity stations, such as coloring or making bracelets at a craft table (Domoniquie’s personal favorite), petting bunnies, or visiting the chicken coop. Afterward, there’s structured games and recreational activities like fishing or hiking. Following dinner, the evening usually concludes around a campfire with smores.
“It’s just like a miniature camp,” Domoniquie said. “It’s just a little more specific, the population. The kids are sweet and normal kids that like to have fun and the opportunity to relax and play.”
She recalled a sweet time of bonding with one teary-eyed little girl who was unsure of playing in a group game. Domoniquie sat with her and they discussed how she was feeling.
“We found a way for her to participate without having to do the game, so she was more of a helper,” Domoniquie explained. “She felt pretty important that way, and eventually she worked her way into joining the game.”
The moment built confidence in the child and helped her feel more sure of herself and join her peers.
Interactions like that one are prayed for before the start of each camp, when all the volunteers gather under the pavilion to pray and discuss the agenda.
“[Camp] plants a seed,” said Domoniquie, who’s been volunteering since the fall of 2021. “[It] allow kids the opportunity to experience God’s love through the actions of the adults and all the volunteers there.
“As they get older, they can have that to reflect on and lean on when maybe they decide to accept Christ in their life. I’m thinking of my own self,” she continued.
When Domoniquie was in foster care, her case worker consistently brought her and her sister to church.
“That’s how I came to know God at a very young age, because I had exposure and opportunity to know about God and to have hope,” Domonquie shared.
“I think allowing the kids to learn about God … allows them to have hope in their future to withstand the things that they’re going through …. [and] know that God loves them and still has a future for them. And that there are people in the world that God’s placed in their lives for a reason.” Domoniquie is one of more than a dozen volunteers at Three Rivers Respite who God is using in the lives of foster children. “The children are our future,” Domoniquie said. “We should all be investing some type of time to make sure we’re caring for that next generation …. [by] spending time, showing them love and care, helping them to in the future pay that forward to somebody else.”