By Kathryn Rice

Northwest Family Resource Association (NFRA) is the brainchild of Jeremy and Paula Cobb.

Upon Jeremy’s retirement from the Missouri National Guard, the Cobbs moved back to Maryville. The couple had served as foster parents in the past. They realized there was no organized or coordinated resource to assist foster children or foster families in the five-county area, Nodaway, Atchison, Holt, Gentry and Worth Counties, under the Children’s Division of the 4th Circuit Court.

“That’s something we could do,” Paula said. “We saw God’s hand in it and it just worked out.”

NFRA works directly with the Children’s Division of Missouri’s 4th Circuit Court. Not wanting to duplicate the services of others, NFRA collaborates with Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Ministry Center, Community Services, North Star Advocacy Center, The Source and Cornerstones of Care.

In mid-July 2023, the Cobbs’ son did the paperwork for the association to have non-profit status.

NFRA, a faith-based association, has reached out to all the churches in the five-county area to build collaborations with a point of contact. All requests for help are vetted through Children’s Division, family services, churches and Cornerstones of Care. NFRA reaches out to the contacts and coordinates services for the identified family.

As of August 1, 2023, the number of children in foster or kinship placement was 96 children. The Cobbs also want to raise awareness for foster parents and the need for people to step up to become foster parents.

Some common needs include items such as: beds and dressers, diapers, formula, clothing, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and gift cards among other needs.

NFRA keeps track of needs and has extra beds to be placed in the Cobbs’ basement. The group also helps with the cost of foster parents’ CPR training and provides fire extinguishers for their homes.

The group provided the Children’s Division with eight starter ‘most valuable player’ or MVP backpacks for children coming into care with hygiene items, blanket, night light, Bible, etc.

They worked with the Nodaway County Extension Council to provide breakfast for the social workers and juvenile officers while the extension council provided a small gift bag for each.

The Cobbs are joined on the NFRA board with Donella Sherry and Michelle Wickersham. Sherry joined after attending a ladies salad supper at the Ravenwood Christian Church where a presentation was given about being a foster parent. Wickersham belongs to The Bridge Church which has been helpful with providing supplies.

NFRA has 35 individuals and churches on their resource list.

The group is working to find volunteers to help Children’s Division court-ordered foster children with supervised visits from their biological parents. Two things are needed: a good location to meet which provides a space for children to be able play and interact; plus volunteers to help supervise.

If interested in being a resource for donating items, contact Paula Cobb at 573.418.1782. Also she said being a faith-based organization the group always needs prayer.