Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Kristi Fulcher helps those who can’t help themselves.
“Kristi is not only my wife, she is also my hero,” Roland Fulcher said. “From the day I met her, she has been a tireless champion for those without a voice - children and animals. The way she puts so many others before herself has always impressed me.”
The mother of three, or nine if you include the four dogs and two cats in their Summerville home, has a long history of community involvement particularly with causes that benefit children and animals.
As a volunteer guardian ad litem for Dorchester County, these days Fulcher spends much of her time looking out for the wellbeing of children involved in abuse and/or neglect cases.
“I meet with the children and attend meetings related to things such as their medical and psychological wellbeing and school,” Fulcher said. “I give my input as far as what I feel they need. As a volunteer in the program, you are the voice for the child so the judge listens to your recommendations on what is in the child’s best interest.”
The program currently has some 65 volunteers but could use more considering this month those volunteers worked on 92 open cases. Fulcher hasn’t been shy about volunteering for some of the more time-consuming cases.
Her work with the program has meant trips to Florence and Myrtle Beach as well as to Columbia for extra training. It has also entailed a bit of frustration as sometimes it falls on a volunteer to figure out ways around “road blocks” to putting a child in the best possible situation.
“Sometimes I want to pull my hair out but then my husband will remind me that everything doesn’t have to be fixed at once,” Fulcher said. “I can work on one little victory at a time and then move on to the next problem. People can be afraid to buck the system, but as volunteers we are supposed to focus on the best interest of the kids, not the interest of the parents or DSS or the school or anything else. We are there for the kid and nothing else.”
Helping children is something that has been important to Fulcher for some time.
When she was in her 20’s, she passed on opportunities to go out with her friends so she could volunteer as a Big Brother/Big Sister mentor. After marriage, she and her husband became licensed foster care parents and provided a loving home to two children until they could be reunited with their families.
“Three years ago, Kristi convinced me we should foster an entire family,” her husband said. “We went from being a family of five to a family of 12 overnight.”
With the help of their Sunday School Class at Bethany United Methodist Church, the Fulchers provided a home to the family until they could get established in a new rental home of their own.
Over the past 16 years, the couple has also fostered more than 30 dogs and a dozen cats.
She admits she isn’t the most patient person, but when it comes to finding a home for the animals she fosters she takes her time to ensure the animals find the right fit.
“We’ve done a lot of animal rescues, fostering everything from dogs to birds,” she said. “The slitheriest things we’ve had are a pair of ferrets, which I loved. We had them for a year and a half. We’ve also failed “Fostering 101” many times and the animals end up living with us permanently. But all the animals we placed went to a home that was a good match for them.”
The mother has also given countless volunteer hours to her children’s schools and her church.
She has served as a Wednesday evening youth group leader and on the Board of Directors for the Bethany Pre-school.
She served on the Summerville Elementary School PTA Board, culminating her service with a term as president. Along with Jodie Collier, she oversaw the design and construction of the engraved brick walkway honoring Dr. Eugene Sires in the learning garden at SES.
She was also among the volunteers who one year spearheaded a mission to ensure every kindergarten student at SES reached their reading goal for the year so that even kids who were not receiving encouragement to read at home could attend a year-end party.