GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tracey Benton and her family are one of dozens of families at Michael Memorial Baptist Church currently caring for foster children.
The first weekend of October, Benton celebrated her foster son's first birthday.
"It's been a blessing to our family. He is such a joy and to just be able to give him a beginning and a start has just been something that we can't....it's hard to describe," said Benton.
Currently, there are about 40 foster children placed with members of Michael Memorial Baptist Church in Gulfport.
"It's been an amazing journey. It's been a big learning process, but everyday has been a blessing and a joy. We just work together and love these children the best we can," said Rev. Tony Karnes.
Karnes had it on his heart for his church members to help foster the nearly 800 children in Harrison County's DHS custody. Dozens of families underwent training in the spring, and now foster local children.
The past six months have been a learning process for all of those involved.
"It's been a long time since I've had a baby. I teach full-time, and he takes up a lot of time, but it's worth it," said Benton.
Having so many other foster families in the church helps with support.
"We have a support group that meets once a month because it's hard. It's emotionally hard and physically exhausting sometimes, and so being surrounded by a bunch of other people who are going through the same things is fantastic," said foster mom Alissa Capuano.
Michael Memorial's certified foster families say it's been a rewarding experience, and something they look forward to continuing.
"It's like being a big family. We all cooperate and work together, celebrate birthdays together and events in their lives and just really try to make the most of the time when we have them," said Karnes.
Karnes notes that there is still a great need for more certified foster care families. They hope to hold another Rescue100 certification program in Harrison County soon.