Maria A. Larsen is a paralegal, mom, and the executive director of Butterfly Haven. She fostered many children for 16 years and each one holds a special place in her heart.
Butterfly Haven was founded in 2006 as an outreach ministry. Maria A. Larsen, founder and executive director, had been fostering children for about three years at the time.
On her journey as a foster mom, she quickly realized that foster families were on their own. A new child was introduced and then it was up to the foster family to make sure that child received all of the help he or she needed. This included recognizing needs, fulfilling those needs, and finding qualified professionals when needed.
For someone like her, who hadn’t been the sole caregiver for a child before, fostering a child with nontraditional needs meant navigating a whole new world without a roadmap or even a compass.
Maria began forming connections between herself and other foster families she met along the way. Exactly as she thought, she wasn’t the only foster parent who was wishing for a little support and direction. She began comparing notes and paying attention when a professional was recommended for a certain issue.
Soon, she had developed a list of foster-friendly professionals who had experience with children in foster care. She also began noticing that many of these children were having similar problems. So not only could she offer a referral, but she could offer experience-based advice.
The community of Foster Families grew and Butterfly Haven was “officially” formed.
Maria began receiving donations of things like clothes, baby equipment, furniture, and other things that many of the children placed in foster care need in a hurry. From the beginning, she had prepared care bags for each child. Each bag contained age-appropriate items, such as coloring supplies and a stuffed animal for younger children, or a journal and toiletries for older children. To date, over 350 children have received a care bag from Butterfly Haven.
In February 2015, Butterfly Haven, Inc. was incorporated and received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS.
In May 2016, Butterfly Haven moved to a little office space at the Woodson Center in Overland, Missouri. This space was just big enough to house a Resource Room and space for children’s activities.
In less than a year Butterfly Haven had an abundant increase in the number of children and families we served. This accelerated growth caused the organization to rapidly outgrew the office space making it clear that they would need to expand in order to continue to serve the number of families needing help. In February 2017, Butterfly Haven moved to Suite #6 of the Woodson Center.
In 2019 Butterfly Haven opened our ReFuel Center and launched our “ReFuel” program and that helps support Foster Parents with family care with the goal of minimizing placement disruptions and emotional “burn out”.
In 2020 Butterfly Haven relocated to 8505 Mid County Industrial Drive. This location provides both office space, conference room and warehouse space all within one building so our Resource Room, Pantry and ReFuel Center are all together. This makes serving our families more efficient and increases the number of families we will impact.
Butterfly Haven’s goal is to be able to provide children that enter foster care with child specific items of their very own in an effort to make the transition of required out of home placement a little less traumatic.
If you would like to get involved we would love to talk to you about ways that you, your family, co-workers, churches, organizations, schools, civic groups, and friends become a part of #MakingMomentsMatter. It is what Butterfly Haven is all about!