It takes a strong person to see pain and do something about it. One of these strong people is Lake Nona local Esma Dennis, a foster parent recruiter. This hero has dedicated much of her career to helping people in the midst of misfortune.
Esma works with Embrace Families, a Central Florida organization dedicated to community-based care for foster families and children experiencing abuse and neglect. She helps connect children in need to parents who will love them, care for them, and provide the vital consistency that they may not have had otherwise.
Esma, her husband, and their twin boys came to the area to be closer to Disney – as many of us did – and to enjoy the suburban appeal. She and her husband are high school sweethearts celebrating nearly 30 years of marriage, and they love their boys dearly; she very clearly cares for her family and extends that care to other families.
Prior to coming to the region, Esma and her family did their fair share of traveling due to her husband’s military career. She previously worked as a domestic violence case manager in Connecticut, contributing to her 20-year-long career in social work. Her passion is evident through all of her efforts in helping human beings.
“I remember, as a little girl, realizing the little girl that lived next door was not as fortunate as I was,” Esma said. “That prompted me to want to help those I saw with a need.”
Esma starts her day off with prayer and by helping her family prepare for their days before her own. In her day-to-day work life, she is in the community searching for opportunities to express the need for foster families and making sure these neglected and vulnerable children find comfort in family. The things any professional in this field sees are hard, but the successes are surely rewarding. Giving children the care they deserve has to be one of the most fulfilling things a person can do – even more so when they make a lengthy career of it.
“The positive side of working in this area is [that] it made me work harder, smarter and wiser to make sure I am getting quality foster homes for children who are in need,” she explained.
This work is not something one can put down at the end of the day. It’s a passion that speaks through everything you do, and recruiters like Esma are constantly motivated to find strong homes for these kids. She extends her professional obligation to make things happen for children in need and works with local chambers of commerce to spread the word.
For her contributions to the foster care community, she has received the Spirit Award from Embrace Families and earned the Ambassador of the Year title with the St. Cloud Chamber. It’s one thing to excel in your work; it’s another thing to be recognized for your integrity and hard work outside of work, around the clock.
Esma’s advice to her younger self would be to listen to your mother when she gives advice, which I think we can all relate to. She plans to continue to be her absolute best self for her family, the foster community and, of course, herself – something she is already doing in her work and personal life. She’s recently lost 40 pounds on her course to being the best person she can be, which deserves a huge shout-out!
This powerful woman shows us the value of family and taking care of others in their time of need. For bringing families together, finding safe and healthy homes for kids, and loving them enough to wish them the same fortune she’s had, she is entirely heroic.