After 100+ Foster Kids, Volunteer Provides Lifeline to Moms, Families in Recovery
By Csaba Sukosd | October 15, 2019
In a drug court, the most visible people helping participants are a judge and their staff. But there are others who help those in need, including volunteers.
After decades as a foster parent who helped raise more than 100 children, Babbette Feibel has spent the past several years as a parent mentor, helping families involved in various Franklin County specialized dockets.
"I was raised in a family of people who valued volunteering. And I just always have wanted to give back to the community and count my blessings," said Feibel.
Given her years of experience with children, the 82-year-old is focused on helping mothers suffering with substance use and mental health issues. Along with those in recovery court and mental health court, she's assisted human-trafficking survivors.
"You find out that they're just like everyone else, and they really need a break. If they can get a break, that's what we're here for," Feibel said. "That's why God put us on earth is to help one another."
While a lot of her time is spent in courtrooms, most of it is making house calls where she can be even more hands on with her services. Her work is facilitated through Ohio Guidestone, which is a nonprofit organization that helps people in need of addiction recovery, mental health matters, foster care, job training, and other assistance.
"I'm not going to stop doing it until I can't do it, because why should I waste the talent I have to connect with these people," Feibel said.
In many ways, she assumes the role of an intermediary, facilitating what a client needs and connecting them with entities. Her duties range from providing transportation, supplying food and clothing, finding housing, connecting with health care providers, and scheduling appointments. She always carries a planner with her to coordinate what's needed for others, but there are plenty of times someone will ask for immediate help.
"I tell all of them to call me at 3 a.m. if you get the urge," Feibel said. "I'll wake up and talk to you."
One of her more recent projects is Michelle Kerns, a woman with mental health issues that led to years of struggles with substance use, which left her homeless for five years. Shortly before Kerns gave birth to her first child in the spring, her case was assigned to Feibel, who helped Kerns find a home, furnishings, and essentials for the baby.
"A lot of people make promises, and they don't keep them. She's kept every promise from the moment I met her," Kerns said.
Feibel's passion to provide for others is not only something she likes to bear, it's a selflessness she hopes to instill in others.
"It doesn't take a bureaucracy. It doesn't take government. It takes a person caring about another person," Feibel said.