FORRESTON – While Patti Jennings was excited to see the new 310 Sibling Home filled with people during its grand opening, she’s still looking forward to filling it next month ... with kids in need.
Believe in the Children’s executive director hosted the community on April 17 after the year-and-a-half process of completing the home where siblings in need could be placed temporarily with trained house parents.
Jennings has long said there’s a desperate need for short-term homes where siblings can stay together during circumstances such as a pregnancy, medical procedures, or a parent taking care of military duties.
Believe in the Children is a nonprofit in Forreston that works with children and families in the area. During the home’s renovation, Jennings has seen donations and support from all over the area.
“We’ve had such wonderful support,” Jennings said. “It’s overwhelming. It’s emotional. We made it through COVID-19 when we thought funds would dry up and we’d not be able to do anything. To have it come and have all these people, the family’s been supportive. It’s a relief. I’m ready to start getting kids in here.”
Jennings said she couldn’t begin to add up the hours of work that have gone into the project, both by members of the organization and volunteers. She recalled people working in the home until early morning hours and community members coming in to clean.
Church Women United donated money for the house’s kitchen.
“We went from having a kitchen that would be secondhand in use to all brand new,” Jennings said. “That just lifted us. We keep going back to, imagine a child who walks in here, this is their home. That’s the whole thing. We want everything to reflect the home.”
Jennings anticipates children will be in the home within 30 days, if not sooner. She said that’s just a matter of when the call comes. Believe in the Children is still looking for house parents, but would have enough qualified staff members now to fill the need.
Believe in the Children is working with the program Safe Families on the project.
“The average time in care is 45 days,” Jennings said. “If we do six every 45 days, they add up. Some go longer or shorter. I’d love to know exactly. I have no clue how many it could help. If we fill this one up, we’ll get another one. If it stays full, I’m not going to rest. I have too much I want to accomplish.”
Jennings has other projects on her mind. The nonprofit plans to start work on a youth center next door to its current location. A foster care resource center is also planned that would aid parents or grandparents thrown into care for children unexpectedly with things like car seats, cribs and more.
“We want to do everything we can,” Jennings said. “I want a village. I want a place where no kid is turned away. If you see a need with a child, come see me. We’ll figure it out. The whole thing at Believe, wherever there’s a need, we’ll figure it out. The answer is yes; what’s the question?”