CINCINNATI — A local organization is raising money to support foster families ahead of National Foster Care Awareness Month. Beech Acres Parenting Center is hosting a foot-golf fundraiser on Saturday for the organization’s foster care program.
Beyond raising money, the goal of the event is to raise awareness about the need for more foster families in the Greater Cincinnati area.
BJ Durel, the event’s honorary chair, and his wife understand firsthand how becoming foster parents can change everything.
“We wouldn't know what to do with a quiet house,” Calena Durel said. “Honestly, it's amazing.”
The Durels struggled with infertility for years before turning to foster care.
“There's definitely an intimidation factor with jumping into something like this,” BJ said.
That’s how the couple met Mariah, now 12, and Aubree, now 10. The girls were being fostered by another family at the time.
“We had an instant connection with them,” Calena said.
It was a connection the Durels kept building until 2019, when the couple adopted them. Just weeks after the Durels had made the decision to adopt, they received surprising news.
“We got the confirmation of pregnancy of twins,” Calena said.
In a matter of weeks, their household of two became a family of six. Six months ago, they had another baby.
“He is also a fertility baby for us, so that's how we got to our five children,” Calena said.
“As busy as it gets and as hectic as it is, it's something that we’ve always wanted,” BJ said.
There are 1,819 children in Hamilton County Job and Family Services custody, according to the department. Of those, 890 live in certified foster homes and 525 live with relatives. The remaining children live in a variety of places, including residential facilities and group homes, while some live independently or are in the hospital.
“That's the ultimate goal with this event,” BJ said. “I mean, yes, to help raise money for the kids in foster care and the families in foster care, but really just to bring a light to the need of foster parents.”
“I think the biggest thing we hear is their hearts being broken when the children leave,” Calena said. “But what we often tell people is that our hearts are also broken. But if everyone felt that way, then who would take care of these children?”
“Without our foster care journey, we would not have the family we have today,” she said.
The ‘Kickin’ It For Kids’ fundraiser runs from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 23 at Reeves Golf Course at 4757 Playfield Lane. Recreation-level and competitive teams will be kick soccer balls down the golf course into oversized holes on the green. Registration to compete is already closed, but the public is invited to join the event. There will be opportunities to make donations and learn more about supporting or becoming a foster family.