GREEN BAY — This holiday season, there's approximately 7,000 children across the state in foster care. Foundations Health and Wholeness in Green Bay works to connect children who need homes to foster parents.
They said the need for foster parents is greater than ever right now.
"We get anywhere from like 30 to 40 referrals from youth and kids a week, and unfortunately, there are weeks where we can't place any of them because we just don't have the availability," Nicole Klug, a case manager at Foundations, said.
Jess Passamoni is one Green Bay foster parent filling that need. She's been in the role for four years and said it's always been her dream to make an impact.
"Being a foster parent is hard, but it's also a big reward," Passamoni said.
During the holidays, she's making an even greater impact. This time of year can be especially hard living in a foster home, so she's determined to provide as much holiday cheer and normalcy as possible.
"Our kiddos that we recently adopted grew up with the Elf on the Shelf tradition, and the elf has never visited our house before," Passamoni said. "When they came to live with us in 2020, the elf magically appeared at our house."
She said keeping children's holiday traditions alive is important to her. Former foster child Tabbi Krauss recalls that some of her best holiday memories are baking cookies and looking at Christmas lights with her foster mom Denise.
"The holidays for everybody isn't the same and to have a positive influence on somebody could totally change someone's aspect on life in general," Krauss said. "I still talk to Denise. I actually still call her my mom."
Klug said donations are also needed during the holidays, and they've been lucky to get a lot of them this year from bikes to beds to candy canes for the children.
For now, foster parents remain at the top of Foundations' Christmas wish list.
"It's going to be scary. It's going to be hard," Passamoni said. "It's not sunshine and rainbows all the time, but there are a lot of really, really great times when you just have tears in your eyes."
Anyone interested in learning more about foster care or becoming a foster parent can visit www.wearefoundations.org or reach out to Collin Drews at 920-606-1205.