SARASOTA, FL – On May 12, the Sarasota YMCA presented its Safe Children Coalition Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner at The Francis. This annual event celebrates the individuals, couples and families who open their homes and hearts to foster children through the Sarasota YMCA Safe Children Coalition program.
Guests at the event were welcomed by Laura Gilbert, president and CEO of Sarasota YMCA, treated to a delicious dinner by Tableseide’s Modern Events, and enjoyed a picture slideshow of each foster family, with their accomplishments and successes. Awards were presented to standout foster parents and then gift baskets given through generous donations from the public, including Detwiler’s Farm Market. There were 170 in attendance for the celebration.
Receiving special recognition for their care and dedication were: NYAP Foster Parent of the Year – Alana Tomasso; Sarasota County YMCA Foster Parents of the Year – Jeff and Crystal Marquez; DeSoto County Foster Parents of the Year – John and Cefornia Reed; One More Child Sarasota Foster Parents of the Year – Elaine and Herbert Evans; One More Child Manatee Foster Parents of the Year – Kristin and David Norman; Youth & Family Alternatives Foster Parent of the Year – Felicia Castillo, Covenant Kids Manor; QPI Family of the Year – Abby Krause and Melissa Acevedo; You Got ‘Em? We’ll Take ‘Em! Award – Polly and Jack Long; Give Us Those Babies! Award – Daniel and Shauna Shea; Never Say No Award – Matt and Kelsey Ballard; Saving One Family at a Time Award – Janet and Ron Sylvester; Special Recognition – Bridge a Life.
Currently, there are approximately 1,600 children being served in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties through the Safe Children Coalition program, which provides safe and nurturing foster homes. When children are removed from a home, the primary reasons are parent substance abuse or domestic violence. Approximately 65 children enter foster care every month; when a child is removed from their home, foster parents provide temporary care while the parent or parents receive help.
The Sarasota YMCA serves as the lead agency for community-based care in its three-county area. The Safe Children Coalition is a collaboration of the Y and local community entities who, together, provide a continuum of child welfare services for dependent children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Child protection services provided include case management, foster care, independent living and adoptions.
“We are so grateful for our foster parents – they are agents of change who work tirelessly and with endless compassion and love to help reunify children with their healthier, better-equipped families,” said Brena Slater, the senior vice president of Community-Based Care. “There is a critical need for additional foster parents, particularly given the ravages of the opioid crisis on area communities. We encourage anyone with room in their hearts and their home to consider serving as a foster parent and being a hero to children in need.”
The event was sponsored in part by Tableseide Restaurant Group. For more information about the Safe Children Coalition, go to sarasotaymca.org/safechildrencoalition or call (866) 661-5656.
About the Sarasota YMCA
The Sarasota YMCA is committed to strengthening the community: through youth development by nurturing the potential of every child and teen, through healthy living by improving the community’s health and well-being, and through social responsibility by giving back and providing support to our neighbors. For more information, go to sarasotaymca.org or call (941) 951-2916.