And that, says Vaughn A. Foster Sr., makes relationship building important not just for couples but for businesses, schools and churches, too.
The Steubenville man launched the nonprofit organization Relationship Builders Inc. three years ago to help individuals, couples, ministries and businesses with building and rebuilding relationships.
The goal? Healthy relationships, which Foster has a heart for helping people experience.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Foster is turning attention toward helping couples, preparing for another round of “Romance and Relationship Married Couples Dinner II.” It will be held Feb. 8 at the St. Francis Centre, 805 Lee Road, Follansbee, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner, door prizes and discovery are part of it along with insight from Foster.
“The purpose of the event is to give married couples a night out to enjoy one another, to strengthen or rekindle their romance and to fellowship with other couples who have something to offer or gain from fellowship with other couples,” Foster said.
“Although we are planning other events for dating couples and people wanting to improve their relationships in general, this event is only for married couples,” he noted.
Those interested are encouraged to RSVP by Feb. 1 by calling (740) 314-7044 or through the Facebook page. The recommended donation is $50 per couple.
“In order to make the event as affordable as possible, we have committed to keeping the cost at $50 per couple. We are currently seeking donations to help cover the additional expenses and to help those for whom even $50 is beyond their means,” Foster explained.
“It is my hope that at the end of the evening, the couples will have enjoyed a time of intimacy with their spouses and some fun with other couples. It is my hope that each husband will be more committed to his wife, each wife more committed to her husband and each couple more committed to their marriage. It is my hope that all in attendance will have both the desire and the tools to begin making their relationships exceptional,” he said.
“So often what happens is people think of romance as one thing and relationship as something different,” Foster said.
This year’s topic is love, a word not only to be articulated but demonstrated, Foster said.
“It is a word and deed,” he noted.
“If you have a relationship and never hear ‘I love you’ then something’s wrong, and we see the ramifications of that over a lifetime, but also if you hear it but don’t see it demonstrated, then we find the hypocrisy demonstrated throughout a lifetime,” he added.
The dinner is as much for longtime married couples as it is for newlyweds.
“Hopefully the younger couples will be able to see something in the older couples and say ‘Wow, after so many years I want what they have’ or ‘I don’t know how they got to that place but we need to work now so we don’t get there,’ and then the older couples will look at the younger couples and go, ‘I remember when, and I want that again.’”
Beyond the Follansbee event, Foster will be offering one-hour seminars from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in February at Word of Life Fellowship, 565 Lovers Lane. There is no charge to attend.
“The sessions will help attendees improve their marriages and their relationships with other people by offering information and training with an emphasis on self-awareness, trust, commitment, forgiveness and communication,” Foster said. Albeit the majority will be married couples, all are welcome and can benefit, he added.
Foster has three earned ministry degrees and has counseled with individuals and couples for more than 25 years. He has served as a senior pastor for more than 15 years and also has worked in corporate and educational settings throughout his career. A husband, father and author, Foster has spent the greater part of his life “helping people to understand their place in the world and to build and maintain healthy relationships.”
How did Relationship Builders come to be?
“One day, three years ago during Lent, while in prayer, the Lord began to impress upon me to write some things down,” Foster began the explanation. “By the time I finished praying and writing, the core components of what we offer in our seminars were outlined. At the time, like most people, when I thought about relationships I thought about married and engaged couples. I thought I was to use my education and more than two decades of pastoral experience to begin doing seminars that help couples prepare for marriage and improve their marriages,” Foster continued.
“However, as I began to prepare the material I would share with others, I realized two things: All relationships are important — many critical — and the information I would be sharing was relevant to every type of relationship, not just the romantic ones. Although we do have a fee-structure for our workshops, seminars and counseling sessions, the contributions of partners and donors help to ensure no one is turned away,” Foster noted.
Foster emphasized that Relationship Builders encompasses all relationships through the programs, workshops and seminars offered.
“The topics covered with couples are the same topics shared with churches, businesses, schools, and correctional facilities to help the attendees to improve all of their relationships,” Foster said. “Seminars are scheduled based on the needs of the organization or business inviting us. In addition to the seminars and workshops, Relationship Builders offers couples and family counseling and, for churches, pulpit supply,” he said.
Relationship Builders is a faith-based undertaking, Foster agrees.
“From heaven to earth, relationships matter, so, yes, I guess it is a faith-based company. At the same time, just because I am a man of faith, and we rely on God to help us to help others, does not mean those who may have the same needs but not the same faith can be neglected. In the same way all people need food, water and shelter. All people need healthy relationships,” he said.
“Relationship building is important because we impact our relationships and are impacted by our relationships. Also, although we were created to live in relationship with our Creator and one another, seldom do we receive any training as to how to do it. We usually learn by the examples before us — good or bad, healthy or unhealthy,” he said.
Relationships are only as healthy as the people in them, according to Foster. “Granted, we do a lot to help couples. Wherever people are in relationship with one another there is a need to improve those relationships. Wherever there is a need, with the help of God, we want to be there to help address it.”
Goals for Relationship Builders this year, Foster said, include partnering with more businesses and individuals “so that we can counsel more couples and help more families, churches, schools, businesses, correctional facilities and the people they serve.”
Asked what would be the one thing he would want to get across to readers about Relationship Builders and why it’s important, Foster responded.
“Unless our relationships are as good as they can be, we need to at least take a look because some people say my relationship is fine and that means they’re content but it doesn’t mean it’s as good as it can be, and sometimes we’re content because we don’t know what else is out there,” Foster said.
“Relationship builders helps people to say there’s more — your work relationship does not have to be what it is now or your marriage or your relationship with your children,” Foster cited as examples.
(Kiaski can be contacted at email@example.com.)
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