SAN ANTONIO — Joan Ulsher is a CASA advocate who spent part of her childhood in the foster care system and the former United States Army Major. She was also inspired to help children who have found their forever home.
She rehabs old dressers and designs them to any child's request. The stepmother to two and grandmother to three donates her gifts of love as she calls them.
They are definitely labors of love, but absolutely makes the lives of children more happy and healthy.
"Going back to 2018 and working my first CASA case, my kids moved lots," said Ulsher. "The indignity of moving with black trash bags of their belongings. Once my kids were able to enter their permanency, that 'Forever Family', or whether that was adoption by a family member or placement in a group home where we knew it was gonna be the final placement for them, I knew that they would need something more than that."
Ulsher said that God has gifted her the talents to create these pieces of art.
"When I of a child in foster care that needs furniture rather than just finding something on the curb and dusting it off and cleaning it up I just go ahead and strip it down to the basics," she said.
"I can transform it into something the child has dreamed of," Ulsher told us, adding whoever the child's favorite super hero or toy might be she wants to create that vision. "I've been creating these dressers since 2019, and I've created thirty one so far."
Ulsher says the list is unending with the number of requests she's been receiving.
That's heartbreaking on one hand when we realize the number of children in Bexar County that are within the Child Welfare system, but someone like Ulsher helping ease that process is wonderful on the other.
"If I can keep up the pace and create fifty by the end of the year that would be wonderful for myself and the kids," she added. "When I know that is what they want and I can sit there for forty or fifty hours and paint it, it's the emotion that goes into the project. I just feel a tremendous relief for the kids knowing that their advocate cares about them, and that I'm able to do this through God's grace and provide them with something that they are gonna have hopefully for generations."
If you’d like to donate an older dresser to Ulsher you can contact Child Advocates San Antonio.