By Karen Brainard
A Ramona couple who takes in foster children with special needs received some extra help with a $1,301 donation from Santa Maria Masonic Lodge No. 580 and Ramona Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 3783.
The funds, raised at the organizations’ Fourth Annual Orphan Benefit Dinner in August, were presented to Kyle and Laurel Wenger at a dinner in Masonic Lodge on Sept. 9.
The couple has provided a home for seven foster children over the years, including two living with them now, along with the two girls they adopted.
The Wengers have had training that includes caring for children with special needs, fragile medical issues and exposure to drugs.
“We’re what you’d call an Options home,” Laurel noted.
They have been trained in the Options for Recovery Foster Care Program, a perinatal substance abuse/HIV infant program, and have cared for foster babies experiencing withdrawal symptoms, either as a newborn because their mothers used drugs while pregnant, or from becoming addicted due to exposure in their environment. The couple also offers respite care for foster children to give other foster families a break, even if it’s just for a day.
More foster families and volunteers are needed, they said. The couple is involved with Straight From the Heart, Inc., a nonprofit resource center for foster, adoptive, kinship children and their caregivers in San Marcos, where Laurel volunteers. The organization has a store with all proceeds benefiting foster families.
Laurel said anyone interested in becoming a foster parent should contact Straight From the Heart at 760-744-2240 or view www.straightfromtheheartinc.org/index.html.