DRUMS, BUTLER TOWNSHIP (WBRE/WYOU) — Brandon’s Forever Home and Pennsylvania State Police teamed up for a ‘Go Blue Cookout’ where kids could eat good food and learn about the law enforcement around them.
The Pennsylvania State Police Hazleton barracks spent Saturday playing and eating with fostered and adopted children. Lorine Ogurkis is the executive director of Brandon’s Forever Home, an organization dedicated to assisting children in need. She says many of the children come from severe cases of abuse and neglect.
“Many times they’ll tell me that the police take children away, they take me away. They see them from a negative standpoint. And my husband and I through our experience thought we have to fix this,” she said.
Trooper First Class David Peters says that this event is important to show these children that law enforcement is actually on their side.
“To be able to come together with them, to show them we are people just like they are, we care about what happens to them and build that relationship so that if they ever need us going forward, they know we’re here for them,” he said.
The children also were given back-to-school supplies and backpacks at the cookout. Not only does the event bring fostered and adopted children together, but also it creates a community for adults who have adopted or fostered the children.
“This activity is really important for foster and adopted families because I think that coming out together it makes you feel like you’re not alone. You have support from all the families,” Yesenia Rodriguez, who has fostered and adopted children, said.
Ogurkis and her husband have adopted two of the eighteen children they’ve fostered, underscoring a need for more, safe foster homes.
“There’s over five hundred children entering foster care just in Luzerne County. There are typically only 90 homes. That includes mine and I have five kids. So the homes are packed with children already so we need new families to step up and say we can do it,” she said.
She says that there are some misconceptions about the requirements to foster a child.
“You only need to be over the age of 21, be able to provide a safe and loving home, you don’t need to be married, there isn’t an age requirement. If anybody wants to learn more, contact Brandon’s Home, and I’ll help them learn about how they can too help children in crisis in our community,” she said.
You can find out more about Brandon’s Forever Home at www.brandonsforeverhome.com