GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Local non-profit Foster the Village provides support for foster families across Brown County. When foster parents accept the placement of a new child, the organization provides them with everything they might need from clothes, to winter gear, to baby items.
It fills an essential need within the foster parent community, because as executive director Cheri Salmon knows from personal experience, children often come into foster care with very little.
"When kids first come into care they need everything," Salmon said. "They’re typically coming with only the clothes on their back.”
Salmon started the non-profit after taking in two children aged 5 and 7 who came to her with next to nothing.
"It was February and we needed to meet all their needs from everything back to school to pajamas and winter gear and I just thought that shouldn't be a burden for foster parents when kids first come into care," Salmon said.
Since it began, the non-profit has become a safe haven for foster families all over Brown County.
“Whenever we’re considering a placement, when our family is considering taking a placement, Foster the Village and the resources that it provides makes it so much easier to say yes," said foster parent Liz Erdmann.
“When you see them and you shop with them and they pick outfits, coats, and they’re excited to get maybe their first new pair of athletic shoes, that’s heartwarming,” said volunteer Sue Zimonick.
In addition to providing basic essentials, the organization also offers training for foster parents and serves over 1,200 children a year.
"We don't have to worry if we don't have a high chair, or we don't have the toddler bed, or we don't have the right sized clothes," Erdmann said. "Foster the Village has all those supplies and we're welcome to use them all."
To meet the growing need, the organization is now getting a bigger space with a new 13,000 sq. foot location at an old school inside St. Jude Catholic Church. Currently the non-profit has a $250,000 need for renovations and is asking for the community's support to be able to afford the new expenses.
Renovations include flooring, painting, shelving, cabinetry, wifi and other equipment for the non-profit's training and support room.
“We also have the rent that needs to be paid for, so not only the renovations. We also have another $500,000 that we’re looking to help us with operating expenses over the next five years," Salmon said.
Your support can be a one-time financial donation, a naming opportunity within the building, ongoing financial support or clothing/supply donations.
If you'd like to support Foster the Village, you can donate on their website or find the link on their Facebook page. You can also email Fosterthevillage@gmail.com.