Agape Villages needs great families and generous donations to keep foster children in safe, caring homes during tumultuous times.
The San Ramon-based nonprofit provides much-needed homes for foster children while their family lives are in disarray and provides permanent homes for the handful of children who cannot safely return to their families.
"We're a haven for children who've been abused and neglected," Janet Kleyn, president of Agape Villages Foster Family Agency, said. "We find wonderful, loving families who want to take these children for a day, a week, a month a year sometimes forever and be their family. Their biological family hasn't been there for them for a variety of reasons. This (Agape Villages) family will step in and be there for them."
Agape Villages is hosting its annual gala fundraising dinner, From Your Heart to Our Kids, Saturday, October 4 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pleasanton. The event raises money through ticket sales, an exciting auction and sponsorships.
Agape Villages was founded in 1958 to help fill the crucial need for good homes for foster children.
"There are foster homes licensed by the county," Kleyn explained. "The county would be the first to tell you they can't provide the services a private agency does. Our social workers have a caseload of a maximum of 15 children, which lets them be in a home every week. The support we can provide and the quality we can help assure by doing that is very different from what the county can offer. We are able to do that because of donations we receive."
While it is impressive that Agape Villages finds good homes for up to 300 children per year, it pains Kleyn to point out that another 500 children were turned away last year due to a lack of foster families.
"We're limited by the number of our families," she said. "If we had more families, we could say yes to more kids. We usually have 200 to 300 children in care in the course of a year. Some will stay a short time, some will stay a long time."
Kleyn relentlessly promotes the essential services provided by Agape Villages and recruits potential foster families. She and her helpful staff and volunteers can often be found at street fairs, festivals, service club meetings and other public gatherings.
Kleyn urges people, particularly empty nesters, to give serious consideration to being a foster family.
"Before you roll your eyes and tell me no, think about it," she urged. "It's designed to be temporary. The hope is that children can always go back home. We all hope and pray for a better situation, but in the meantime, the children have been safe and loved and well taken care of."
Foster parents are screened carefully and given extensive training before a child is placed in a home.
"We just want what's best for the child," Kleyn said. "They've had some tough knocks from things that aren't right for them, and we just want to give them a chance. We want to provide them with stability. The foster parents are there for them."
Learn more about Agape Villages at agapevillages.org or call the office at 925-866-3020. Tickets for the gala fundraising dinner are available at the website, as are opportunities to donate auction items and sponsor the event.
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