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Outbound: KidsPeace Helps Shelter Buffalo’s Children

The opioid epidemic in Western New York is causing a family crisis and a foster care emergency. Today we live in a time when opiate addiction and opiate deaths have left hundreds of children living in homes without parents, and families shattered by the consequences of drug usage. KidsPeace, a nonprofit organization focused on making life better for children is working hard to help youngsters who are facing such emotional upheaval find comfort and safety with a foster family that will care for them. Every child deserves a loving family.

KidsPeace provides shelter for children who are victims of parents or care providers struggling with addiction. It’s hard to find anyone today who is not, or has not, been affected by drug addiction in some way but, there are ways to lend a hand and help the most vulnerable among us by offering to provide a service for children from families impacted by drug addiction. Service to these children can come in many different forms, from committing to caring for them in daily life as a foster parent, to giving a day with them through the Day of Caring, going to a fundraising dinner for a couple of hours or purchasing a KidsPeace Chiavetta’s Chicken dinner.

As this problem continues nationwide, it’s hurting the most cherished members of our population – our children. “The need has gotten much worse over the last few years with the progression of the opioid crisis, and the levels of domestic violence increasing,” said Betsy Farkas, program director at KidsPeace in Williamsville. “Children are forced into foster care and as a foster parent, it’s heartbreaking. Their lives are just devastated.”

According to KidsPeace, 600 children were put in foster care in both Erie and Niagara Counties last year, but there are only about 500 families to place them. “We train our foster parents in a variety of ways. The foundation of all of our training is trauma-informed care,” said Farkas. “It is a difficult transition for children, yet the experience can be very fulfilling for those who choose to take them in.”

“I love being a mom and I love being a foster parent. If I can positively impact the lives of just one child in need, that means there is one less child that is hungry, neglected or abused,” stated KidsPeace foster parent Rita Hodges. “The joy a child can bring into your life, and the joy you can bring into a child’s life is immeasurable.” Rita, a biological mother of six children, has 6 foster kids in her home currently. 2 of Rita’s foster children are being adopted this month. Rita sees the great need for foster parents and would like others to consider opening their hearts and homes to children in need.

“If Foster parenting is not an option for someone, I would encourage them to do what they can to support foster parents or KidsPeace,” said Rita.

KidsPeace has been giving hope, help, and healing to children, families, and communities since 1882. In Western New York, KidsPeace provides services to over one hundred foster children each year between the ages of 0-21 who come from Erie, Niagara, Wyoming and Cattaraugus Counties. These children suffer from severe physical and emotional needs as well as already having experienced great trauma. KidsPeace has connected with some loving families who have opened their hearts and homes to help these extraordinary children but there is still a great need for more caring adults to join the KidsPeace team and become foster parents.

Every year KidsPeace holds a Chiavetta’s Chicken BBQ to raise money for their annual children’s foster care holiday party. This year the barbeque will take place in front of their offices at 2801 Wehrle Dr, Williamsville, NY 14221 on June 22, 2018, from 11 AM – 3 PM. Presale tickets available by Friday, June 15th @ 3:30 PM, is recommended. Please call 716-634-1058 or email (Lazzara@kidspeace.org) for more information.

It would be wonderful if you would find in your heart to become a foster parent with KidsPeace and you can begin your journey of love and support by joining them on June 22 for their annual barbecue.

Written by Mark Lazzara

Mark Lazzara

I have a passion for helping my fellow Western New Yorkers and advance the great things that are going on in this region. Buffalo Rising is a great booster and it’s a blast writing and contributing to BR about positive happenings in our neck of the woods. I appreciate the help I’ve received over the years from organizations and people who share my passion and supported me in efforts that put thousands of people to work and resulted in a community give back of more than $115M to Buffalo’s neediest during my days at the helm of AmeriCorps.

I’m especially grateful for the opportunities that enabled me to help cities devastated by Hurricane Katrina and rebuild more than 700 family homes that were destroyed. Back at home, I was able to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience as a coordinator for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition where we were able to repair, beautify and upgrade homes for an entire neighborhood on Buffalo’s Westside. Other projects close to my heart include a collaboration with Sail Buffalo to build the Cazenovia Boating Center at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, and my annual Christmas season time is spent at Buffalo’s treasure, the Broadway Market, playing Santa Clause.

In my other life, I am a workforce development, business, marketing, public relations and fundraising professional. Earned a M.S. Human Service Management from Buffalo State, and enjoy my family life that includes four amazing grandchildren!

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