Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 9, 2013

Volunteers gather downtown to spread word on Foster Care Awareness Month

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — Raising awareness of children in foster care is a year-round passion for the folks at For Jamie’s Sake.

During May, the month designated for Foster Care Awareness, they hope to spread their passion.  On Wednesday, about two dozen volunteers came out to help the nonprofit decorate Winchester Avenue with blue ribbons. For Jamie’s Sake co-founder Lee Ann Gollihue the brilliant blue ribbons will stir the curiosity of passers-by to learn about the issue and then become inspired to get involved.

It is already working.

“We have several different agencies represented so we are really pleased, and some foster parents,” said Gollihue, as the volunteers trekked up and down Winchester placing the ribbons. “I’m very excited concerning we had to postpone it due to weather.”

The event was originally scheduled for Monday, but a rainy week pushed it back a couple of days.

“I came out to spread awareness with everybody, to let everybody know there are children in foster care that really do need a family — a forever family,” said volunteer Stacy Spears, 23, of Ashland, who was pushing a cart laden with blue bows up the sidewalk, pausing while volunteers placed them at each light post between 13th and 18th Streets.

“I personally was adopted when I was a child by my grandmother and I like to give back to the community because I was a child that needed that forever family and I actually got that,” Spears said.

Spears began volunteering for For Jamie’s Sake a year ago. “It is a great organization. They spread a lot of awareness, more than others I have seen. It’s just a great feeling to spread awareness about all the children who need a forever family.”

Tim Ruddman, of the Ramey Estep Home and Foster care and Impact Plus, was among several representatives of local agencies that often work hand-in-hand with For Jamie’s Sake providing services to local foster children. “There are always children in need, families in need and we are here to help,” Ruddman said.

Volunteer Betty Cantwell, of Rush, has been a foster parent for more than a decade, welcoming dozens of children into her home. Being a foster parent, she said, is a passion. “We love it.”

Cantwell praised Wednesday’s event  — her first experience with For Jamie’s Sake — for helping to make more people aware of what she knows all to well.

“Kids need homes. They do,” said Cantwell, adding she hopes the month will inspire others to become foster parents. “There are so many kids out there, we really need foster parents.”

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com