Since 2016, The Twig has been serving the foster care community and leading others to do the same. But the story of The Twig began many years earlier when our founders, Lloyd & Dianne Weed, adopted their youngest daughter Ashlyn from the foster care system.
Ashlyn's foster mom made an unforgettable impact on Lloyd & Dianne. They knew she had prayed for the right adoptive family for that baby girl, and had given Ashlyn the best start to her life that she could. When Ashlyn approached her high school graduation, Lloyd & Dianne decided they wanted to do more to support foster families who were continuing to do such important work.
Dianne dreamed of opening a storefront location where children in foster care could shop for clothing in a space that brought them dignity, encouragement, and inspiration. She and Lloyd stepped out in faith to lease a small shop they could use for that purpose. Word began to spread throughout the community and many donors stepped in to help make their dreams become a reality.
The Twig opened its doors in May 2016, welcoming children into a brightly lit store, clean and organized, complete with dressing rooms. They served 466 children that first year, bringing smiles to many faces and meeting countless tangible needs.
It soon became apparent they would need more space. In 2017, they moved to a larger location in the same shopping plaza and had 1,509 client visits that year. They also hired their first full-time employee, Nicole Britton, who took on the role of Director of Development. She began to increase the presence of The Twig in the community, raising awareness, and connecting more donors with the cause.
In 2018, they hired their second full-time employee, Callie Cowan, as their Director of Programs. They began expanding the ways they served the community, adding a mobile unit that could visit group homes, hosting foster care symposiums to educate the community about ways to help the foster care community, and building closer relationships with local foster care agencies.
The next year brought further program development as The Twig began to identify ways they could help youth who were aging out of foster care. In 2019, they began their TwigBox initiative, mailing monthly care packages to former foster youth. They also expanded their Shopping Days, allowing them to serve more children in foster care than ever before.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, The Twig knew they needed to maintain their mission while modifying their methods. They were able to continue serving their families through preparing packages for families to pick up and then arranging private shopping appointments. Over the course of the year, The Twig served 810 kids and a total of 231 families.
At the end of 2020, The Twig shared exciting news - the future launch of a second location in the Lakewood Ranch area that will open in 2021. This second location will allow them to expand their services, providing resources to more children in foster care on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
It has been a busy five years, but God has blessed The Twig at every turn. The support of the community has been tremendous, and we know that the future holds great things for this organization.