Local foster parents spread awareness for children who need a home

May is Foster Care Awareness month, a time to recognize how communities not only across the nation but also in the DMV, are playing a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. 

Even a soggy Saturday morning couldn’t keep Najiba Hlemi and some volunteers from setting up signs and placards in front of the National Mall.

It was all in an effort for bringing awareness to what they believe is a very important cause.

The group belongs to the Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center or FAPAC.

It’s an organization that prides itself on improving the quality of life, well-being, and dignity of children in the District, needing a temporary home and beyond.

"There are 423,000 foster children in the nation," said Hlemi, who is an executive director at FAPAC.

"In D.C., there are 18 new foster children that enter the system every single month, so we’re here today to bring awareness and to let people know that foster care is important," she said.

The organization works with foster parents like Donna Flenory, known to most of her foster kids as just ‘Mama D.’

"These are my kids," said Flenory, "I’ve got over 75 of them."

Flenory said she has been keeping the doors to her home open for 21 years, where she provides a loving and supportive environment for teenagers in need of a temporary home.

"I love helping them navigate emotionally and mentally through what they have to do and preparing them for life because at 21, you’re kind of on your own," Flenory said.

The organization wants anyone who might be interested in fostering, to be aware and understand that there is always a need in the community for people and families to open their hearts and homes to children and teenagers who need that temporary safe place to stay.

"You are supporting your community and what more of an important thing to do than to help raise children, it really takes a village," Hlemi said.

"By being a neighbor to a foster family, just understand that they are doing a community service and supporting them in any way that you can, if it’s not more than just being understanding," Flenory said.