The YMCA will be holding an session to learn about fostering and adopting on Saturday, Jan. 5 from noon to 3 p.m. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
The YMCA will be holding an session to learn about fostering and adopting on Saturday, Jan. 5 from noon to 3 p.m. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – The YMCA will be holding a session on Jan. 5 from noon to 3 p.m. where those interested can learn about adoption or about becoming a foster parent. Several local organizations will gather to share information.

Nicole Benson, YMCA Membership Director, said the goal of the event is to get several organizations in one place so that people can see what each has to offer.

The Marsh Foundation, Adriel, SAFY, and Van Wert County Foster Care and Adoptive Homes are among the organizations that will be sharing information with the public on Saturday.

“I wanted to bring all those people together, bring them here, set them up, and let the public in,” said Benson.

“They can do a Q&A,” she added. “Even foster homes that are already providing that care, a lot of times they don’t have all their questions answered, so they can come in as well.”

Benson said she hopes by doing more events like this, she can show the community that the YMCA is more than just a gym, but rather they are a “community involvement family organization.”

“We’re just trying to get back out in the community, to let people know that we are a non-profit organization that is for families,” said Benson. “That’s not just for immediate families; we are for families that are opening their homes up to foster and adopt.”

“We bring in youth programming that allows for sports, swim lessons, and in January I’m going to start doing Family Fridays,” added Benson. “We are trying to bring awareness to the community that we’re here to make sure they have somewhere to go as a family, spend time together, and create memories.”

The topic of fostering and adopting is dear to Benson, who fostered over 22 children in two years through SAFY.

“It’s beneficial in more than one way; it’s beneficial for the kids that are coming into your home,” said Benson. “But they will teach you more than you teach them.”

Benson said the kids that are in the foster system need stable homes that can provide understanding and care.

“There are kids that come through these homes, they have a lot going on with them,” said Benson. “With drug addiction where it’s at, there are a lot of kids that are getting removed temporarily from the homes and getting placed into foster homes while the parents go through rehabilitation.”

Benson said that with a lot of foster children, the first goal is to get the kids back home.

“But sometimes they don’t have the opportunity, and they don’t have the environment that is required to let them go back home,” said Benson. “Then that’s where adoption comes in. Most agencies have that tied right in.”

Benson said that most organizations have three programs – adoption, foster, and foster to adopt.

“There is a great need for groups,” noted Benson who said that a lot of kids that came to her home came with siblings. “You have to be able to open your heart up to the possibility that you’re going to get two really great kids in that group and you might have one that needs a little more help. You got to have the heart for it.”

During Saturday’s event, the four organizations will have information and will be able to answer questions. There will also be activities for those who bring children as well as membership discounts and door prizes.

“Not every organization is the same,” said Benson. “If you want to make a difference in your community, most of these organizations stay local.”

Looking ahead, the YMCA has several more community activities coming up including Family Fridays starting in January, a family activity before swim classes on Fridays in February, and You Are Beautiful, a class to help individuals do their makeup and learn various hairstyles, is coming up on Jan. 19 at 10 a.m.