Heart Gallery Displayed on Church Street Marketplace in Recognition of Foster Care Month
Lund & DCF raise awareness about youth in foster care during week-long display
Photographs of children and youth who are currently waiting in state custody for their forever families will be on display in the windows of 15 stores on the Church Street Marketplace during the first week of May, National Foster Care Month.
The photos are part of The Heart Gallery — a traveling photo exhibit featuring portraits and short biographies of children waiting for adoptive families. Displaying the Heart Gallery in one of the busiest places in Vermont puts real names and faces to the children in need of families and helps raise awareness of the need for foster and adoptive families throughout the state.
“At this moment , 131 of Vermont’s most vulnerable youth do not have the stability and unconditional love of a forever family,” says Wanda Audette, Lund’s Director of Adoption and Co-Director of Project Family. Project Family is an award winning 18-year collaboration between Lund and the Vermont Department for Children and Families that finds forever families for children.
“These kids are Vermont kids and it’s everyone’s responsibility to help them. While not everyone can open their home to a child, everyone can do something. There are many stops on the road to permanence and we need help along each one. For example, folks can get educated about the need for adoptive families, help spread the word and become a mentor for a child. If having the Heart Gallery displayed on the Church Street Marketplace makes a difference for just one child, it will be a success,” says Audette.
“I applaud the courage of the youth who are participating in this photo exhibition,” said DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz. “They have put faces and stories to a real issue we face in Vermont: an all-time high number of children and youth waiting in foster care for permanent homes. We need communities across Vermont to come together for these children.”
“Lund provides critical services to Vermont children who need forever families,” says Mike Archambault, owner of Karlise Fine Jewelers on Church Street who spoke at press conference, Tuesday May 1st joined by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and representatives from Lund and DCF. Karlise Fine Jewelers is hosting a Heart Gallery Portrait for the week. “The business owners of Church Street and I believe that strong families are the backbone of Vermont. We are fortunate to have the Church Street Marketplace family support this great cause.”
Lund helps children thrive by empowering families to break cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse. Lund offers hope and opportunity to families through education, treatment, family support and adoption. Lund is a member agency of the United Way of Northwest Vermont.
The Vermont Department for Children and Families delivers a wide array of programs and services to Vermonters in areas such as child care, child development, child protection, child support, disability determination, and economic benefits that help meet basic needs.