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CLIPBOARD : HOW TO: HELP FOSTER CHILDREN IF YOU CAN’T BECOME A FOSTER PARENT

Donna Cathey wanted to help abused and homeless children. But in addition to being a single parent of two teen-age sons, Cathey’s career in film distribution required travel. She realized she could not add being a foster parent to the list of demands on her time and energy.

But by becoming a Southern Area Fostercare Effort volunteer, Cathey was able to help foster children in whatever time she did have available. She used her skills from business to develop SAFE’s fund-raising program, and she helped recruit foster parents. “My heart has always been with children, and I’m glad to be able to do what little I can to help,” Cathey said.

Whatever skill or talent you have to offer, SAFE can find a way to use it to help needy children. Volunteers with experience in making videos, for example, have produced bilingual foster-parent training videos. Graphic artists have designed recruitment brochures and other volunteers have offered their homes for foster parent training sessions.

Others have provided foster children with extras such as trips to summer camp, amusement park tickets and orthodontic treatment that many foster parents cannot afford.

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“Even if you can’t become a foster parent yourself, you can really make a difference through this organization,” said John Battoe, who has been involved with SAFE for several years. As president of the Mission Viejo Rotary Club, Battoe persuaded that group to give money to SAFE, and he opened the doors for SAFE volunteers to speak to other Rotary groups.

Battoe had seen a news story on “what happens to runaway kids in New York and Los Angeles,” and, he said, “I wanted to prevent that from happening in Orange County. Most of them had been abused at home, and I just couldn’t get them out of my mind.” Battoe said a volunteer need not be the leader of a civic group to make a difference, pointing out that he once stood outside the door of his church and passed out foster parent recruitment brochures to parishioners after Mass one Sunday morning.

“We provide a support network for those who have decided to become foster parents,” said SAFE director Barbara Labitske, who helped found the organization in Orange County in 1982. The group now has volunteers throughout Southern California.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, and those who take in foster children are very special people. We want to help them and show our appreciation.”

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If you, your church, organization or business would like to assist foster families, call SAFE at (714) 939-0663 or 1-800-426-2233. SAFE has jobs that can be done in just a few days or hours. “The amount of time, effort and money you contribute is up to you,” Labitske said.

Source: Southern Area Fostercare Effort (SAFE)


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