Rotary clubs help foster children find forever families

Plano Community Rotaract Club volunteers at the Jenga activity station

The six Rotary clubs in recently Plano worked cooperatively to support children who have been placed in foster care by hosting an Adoption Awareness Fair that allowed the kids to meet potential adoptive parents in a playful setting. The large event was held in a Plano church and coordinated by Plano West Rotary Club’s Michelle and Glen Thornton, both past presidents of the club.

At the Adoption Fair, almost 50 children ages three to 17 who currently live in foster care were invited by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) to participate in a day of fun and games led by Rotarians and community volunteers. TDFPS also invited carefully selected adults who are interested in adopting to participate in the fair as well. This allowed for observation, interactions and relationship-building between the children and adults.

North Texas Pioneers Rotary Club led a cake walk

Michelle and Glen planned 22 different activities the kids could do, including playing basketball, Connect 4 and minute-to-win-it games. The kids could also decorate cupcakes, visit a gaming truck, pot their own plant, see the inside of a Plano Fire-Rescue truck, check out a Plano Police Department vehicle and much more. As they marked off each activity on their checklist, each child could choose from a large array of prizes.

Snacks, drinks and treats — including snow cones and popcorn — were provided, as well as breakfast and a hot lunch. The event was no cost to the children or adults.

Multiple volunteers commented on the success of the event, and observed that the children all seemed to have a good time, taking advantage of everything there was to do.

Additional volunteers included members of Dallas Rotary Club, Royce City Rotary Club, Plano Senior High Interact Club, Plano Community Rotaract Club and Christ United Methodist Church. TDFPS also contributed several staff members to the event.

Altogether 75 volunteers put time into this project, totaling a cumulative 375 hours. Donated funds totaled $1,550, and donated supplies were valued at $250, for a grand total of $1,800 in donations.

Plano clubs are located within Rotary District 5810, which covers eight counties in North Texas. The Adoption Awareness Fair in Rotary District 5810 began about 20 years ago, and has moved around to a few different cities within the district since then. Unfortunately the Collin County adoption awareness event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fair’s lead contact at TDFPS, Laqueena Warren, was happy to see it return this year.

“Words can’t express how much [TDFPS] and our precious children appreciate you and your entire team. The children seemed to have so much fun!” Laqueena said.

For Michelle and Glen, this project was personal. “Ever since Glen and I participated in the Grand Prairie Adoption Awareness fairs prior to 2018, and were subsequently invited by TDFPS to have an additional District 5810 event in Collin County, we have wanted to be a part of this program. Glen was adopted so this project is near and dear to his heart, as it is to other volunteers who have told us their adoption stories. Even if only one child from our event was adopted into a forever family, it would be worth it!”

Plano West Rotary Club members Michelle and Glen Thornton, the organizers of the Adoption Awareness Fair

Plano West Rotary hosts several service projects every month, including food distributions with Plano ISD, furniture deliveries alongside Bed Start, volunteering at local events, roadside clean-ups and more. Members of the community who are interested in volunteering at an upcoming service project can sign up at planowestrotary.com/page/service-projects.

Plano West Rotary Club

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