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Harvest Foundation, youth board partner to support foster care program


LEFT TO RIGHT: Harvest Foundation President Kate Keller, Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer at Harvest, Henry-Martinsville DSS Director Amy Rice, Harvest Youth Board Members Taylor Gary, Chairman Will Gardner, and Susanna Lawrence, fiscal assistant supervisor at Henry-Martinsville DSS

MARTINSVILLE, VA – The Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services is enhancing its foster care program with the installation of a new playground and visitation area for families.


The Harvest Foundation and Harvest Youth Board are partnering with the organization and local Rotary Clubs and are providing grants of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.


Due to COVID-19 restrictions, supervised visitation options for the foster care program have been limited, according to Amy Rice, director of Henry-Martinsville DSS.


This outdoor space will provide the ability to allow outdoor visits with safe play equipment while keeping the staff close to the agency in case of an emergency.


It also will allow families to return to regular visitation schedules.


“Our main focus is to provide safe, quality family time which will ultimately ensure reunification between a child and their family,” Rice said. “The support we have received will enable us to uplift and empower families with a healthy outdoor environment. For families who are seeing their most challenging times, this foundation of collaboration allows us to build positive futures for years to come.”


Members of the youth board said this project was important to support because of its impact on youth in the community.


Member Cristiano DiMaro said, “I know that reconnecting parents and children is a difficult and emotional situation and that having a safe space for kids to feel relaxed and at ease is vital to the process. Because of that, I think this grant is going to benefit the youth immensely by giving kids in foster care a safe space to help them reconnect with their families.”


The Martinsville Uptown Rotary Club, the Henry County Rotary Club, and the Rotary Club of Martinsville also are supporting by investing a combined $12,000 in the development of the playground.


“Our three area Rotary Clubs saw great value in investing in this project for the positive benefits it will have in the lives of children and families in Martinsville and Henry County,” said Beverly Pitzer, president of the Martinsville Uptown Rotary Club. “Henry-Martinsville DSS has been working on funding for the playground for quite some time, and the timing was perfect to contribute funds through the Rotary District 7570 Grant and to participate in over 70 hours of service opportunities.”


With the effects of the coronavirus, families are experiencing added stressors that can result in abuse or neglect leading to an increased need for foster homes, Rice said.


She invites those who are interested to join Henry-Martinsville DSS in providing local children emotional and behavioral support to grow and learn in a safe, loving environment, while also offering biological parents the opportunity to heal from mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and other challenges.


To find out more about the local foster parent program and preventative services, contact Megan Mitchell at 276-656-4350.


LEFT TO RIGHT: Beverly Pitzer, president of the Martinsville UpTown Rotary Club, and Amy Rice, director of Henry-Martinsville DSS

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