I had never heard of The Family Room before my internship interview in May of 2023. During the working interview, I witnessed for the first time the power of family time that TFR staff and volunteers foster. At one table, a family laughed as they played a rousing game of Candyland. At another table, a parent helped a toddler eat a snack of apple sauce and macaroni and cheese. In the nursery, a baby napped in the pack-and-play as his parents lay on the floor nearby. My first hour at The Family Room was my first glimpse of what I have learned over and over to be true here: Family Time is Magic!

The Family Room creates the magic of family time and transforms donated church spaces into family spaces full of toys, games, arts and crafts materials, and meals. Being at The Family Room two days a week during the past year has given me a new appreciation for the privilege of time that I have with my own family. As I have learned over my 14 years of parenting, being a parent can often be stressful, full of setting boundaries and watching out for children’s safety. But TFR families appreciate the opportunity to parent, even in mundane times, because of the rare, precious nature of their time together. 

Several times, as I have sat amid the swirl of activity from my own precious family, I have thought about how I am living the dream of so many of our parents. When the noise of my family feels overwhelming (my two kids arguing as my dog barks at my husband to take him for a walk and my mom calls me from downstairs), I try to reimagine the cacophony as the music that it is. I try to think of how painful the silence would be if my beautiful family was not bouncing off the walls of our home.

I’ve heard TFR founder Kimberlee say that TFR’s work is more about reunification in the moment than it is the ultimate return of children to their birth parent’s home. When families are involved in the child welfare system, no outcome is guaranteed. But when families have the magic of time together, when they get a chance to show their love in person, when they share a meal, and when they get to work on homework or play pretend, they experience the profound healing power that only time can provide. 

After over 400 hours of observing and interacting with TFR families, countless packs of macaroni and cheese, and reams of paper, I feel privileged to witness the strength, resilience and resolve of the families that come to The Family Room. I had never heard of The Family Room a year ago, but now that I know about the families at TFR and the important work that Rebekah, Stacy, Jen, and Gianella do to support them, I want family room (family magic) to be available to every family who needs it.


Kendra Atkins-Boyce
MSW Student, Portland State University