FOSTER families gathered in Wangara this week to celebrate the opening of a community hub for carers.
Non-profit organisation Fostering Hope opened its premises on Buckingham Drive on July 5, where it will distribute donated items to carers.
Clarkson residents Lorraine Lekias and Linzi Mooney founded the organisation in 2016 from their home before setting up a premises in Wangara in 2017, which it has since outgrown.
Ms Lekias said the new space was four times bigger than the previous site, giving them space for carers to meet, children to play and volunteers to sort through donations.
“It’s like it’s been built for us,” she said.
“We’ve got a much safer environment because we are not so crammed.
“We are going to be able to have get-togethers and groups; we want it to be more social.
“There’s a lot more clothing now.”
Ms Lekias said they now had an area for children to play while carers browsed for items they needed, and there was a quiet area for children under supervision.
She thanked everyone who helped set up the facility and people in the community who supported the initiative, including the Knit and Natter group which made baby blankets and clothing.
“We would really love to thank the community who support us,” she said.
“Without their beautiful donations, we wouldn’t be able to make this place work.
“Everything in here is donated by the community.
“Everything that’s taken from here is no charge to carers; all we ask is a small donation towards the running of the building.”
Aboriginal elder Warren Yorkshire gave a Welcome to Country at the official opening on July 5 and talked about his own experiences in care as well as indigenous culture.
Mr Yorkshire said it was good to see people who took on the rewarding but hard work of fostering children.
“I was pleased to do it because it was faster care and I was in foster care,” he said.
“They are giving something back; they are doing a remarkable job.”
Ms Lekias said grandparent and relative carers could collect items as well as carers approved by the Department of Communities.
She said they had about 50 volunteers who provided drop-off points for donated items across Perth, helped sort donations and organised packs of supplies for carers who took on emergency placements.
Nappies and clothing are among the donations they need most.
“All we ask is that donations are in good condition,” Ms Lekias said.
“We are trying to build our children’s self-esteem and self-worth – looking good makes them feel good.
“Warm pyjamas are one of my favourite things to get – that’s a priority, for children to be warm.”
Mrs Lekias said the bonus of running the organisation was “cuddling all the babies” while carers browsed for items they needed.
Donations can be made to the Fostering Hope bank account using BSB 016246 and account number 311954928; via Paypal using firstname.lastname@example.org; or through the GoFundMe page.
The first get-together is planned for July 26 and the organisation will extend its opening hours after the July school holidays to 9.15am to 1.30pm on Mondays to Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as well as 11.30am to 1.30pm on Thursdays.