"There's not a time that I don't think of loving."
We walked into the Maggie House in Charleston, Arkansas, and saw her smile right away. It’s the same smile she gave me every Sunday morning when I was in her 4th grade Sunday School class. Valerie Fitch radiates with warmth and kindness everywhere she goes. She and her husband Mark have served the local homeless community; worked tirelessly at a local food pantry and clothes closet; helped countless numbers of men and women find jobs and learn life skills; and they now live as house parents in a group home for children in foster care. Their extravagant love has passed down to their daughter as well, who has sacrificed the typical single years in her twenties to be a foster mom. We sat down with her to talk about the ways she lavishes love on others and has for decades.
“Sometimes it’s even hard to love your family.”
Valerie admitted that loving well doesn’t always come easily. And it doesn’t come without risk. She’s visited homes where roaches were falling on her head. She’s been to homeless camps alone where she didn’t know anyone and wasn’t sure she’d return home safely. And she watched her daughter go through some medical issues after a missions trip out of the country.
“The hardest part is when it affects the people you love.”
But she presses on. Every risk, every heartache, every sacrifice is worth it. She shared story after story of men, women, and kids who came to know and love Jesus because she’d met their physical needs first. Whether through experience or instinct, Valerie doesn’t just meet needs; she empowers people to do it for themselves, giving them the tools and resources they need to move forward without her. It changes the trajectory of the family.
Although we asked her many questions about herself and the way she loves, she never took credit for any of the success stories or even for her generous, merciful nature.
“God is just amazing. He’s an amazing God. You just follow what God tells you to do.”
How you can help:
- Check out The Maggie House. Another home will be open later this year in order to serve more children in our area.
- Consider how you can get involved.
- Encourage the staff. When you see them out in public, encourage them. Pat them on the back, smile, and say, “How are you?” A little support goes a long way.
- Drop off hygiene items. Anything you need for your kids, The Maggie House needs times 32.
- Get your church involved. Can you sponsor a weekend trip? Put on a BBQ picnic for the kids there? Do some work outside? Get creative!
- Pray. Valerie said, “Prayer is what changes things here,” as she recalled the story of a young teenage girl who asked Valerie to pray with her every night for a forever home. It was Valerie’s faith that grew as she watched God work. That girl is now at home with her adoptive family.
We asked Valerie to tell our readers one thing about how she lives.
“Love loudly like a clanging symbol. You gotta love loudly.”