Posted on Apr 28, 2022
On March 19 all six Rotary clubs in Plano worked cooperatively to support children who have been placed in foster care by hosting an Adoption Awareness Fair that allowed the kids to meet potential adoptive parents in a playful setting. The large event was held in a Plano church and coordinated by Plano West Rotary Club’s Michelle and Glen Thornton, both past presidents of the club.
At the Adoption Fair, almost 50 children ages three to 17 who currently live in foster care were invited by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) to participate in a day of fun and games led by Rotarians and community volunteers. TDFPS also invited carefully selected adults who are interested in adopting to participate in the fair as well. This allowed for observation, interactions and relationship-building between the children and adults.
Michelle and Glen planned 22 different activities the kids could do, including playing basketball, Connect 4 and minute-to-win-it games. The kids could also decorate cupcakes, visit a gaming truck, pot their own plant, see the inside of a Plano Fire-Rescue truck, check out a Plano Police Department vehicle and much more. As they marked off each activity on their checklist, each child could choose from a large array of prizes.
From left to right: Co-organizers Michelle and Glen Thornton; Members Jo’Anna Snowden and Roxanna Iannarelli with Roxanna's daughter Isabella at the plant-potting station
Snacks, drinks and treats — including snow cones and popcorn — were provided, as well as breakfast and a hot lunch. The event was no cost to the children or adults.
Multiple volunteers commented on the success of the event, and observed that the children all seemed to have a good time, taking advantage of everything there was to do.
Every service project that Rotarians undertake should fall under one of Rotary’s six areas of focus. The Adoption Awareness Fair supports Rotary’s focus on saving the lives of women and children. It is the hope that this event begins the process that leads to children being matched with a nurturing family in a stable home.
Rotary is also about bringing people together to make positive change in their community. This service project demonstrated the monumental effect clubs can have when working together.
From left to right: PWRC volunteer Velavan Murugan with our President-Elect Joy Hinkelman and District 5810 Governor-Elect Howard Templin; Michelle Owen and Plano Senior High School Interact Club members led cupcake decorating
All six Rotary clubs in Plano contributed to making this project a success. Plano West, Plano East, Plano Metro, Plano Sunrise and North Texas Pioneers donated volunteers and physical supplies. Plano Rotary Club donated approximately a quarter of the funds needed for the fair.
Members of Plano West Rotary Club that assisted Michelle and Glen included Roxanna Iannarelli, Jo'anna Snowden, LaShon Ross, Joy Hinkelman, Fred Bemenderfer, Tara Bidwell, Steve Lauten, Ike Kalson, Laura Johnson, Jennifer Shertzer and Brett Moore.
Additional volunteers included members of Dallas Rotary Club, Royse City Rotary Club, Plano Senior High Interact Club, Plano Community Rotaract Club and Christ United Methodist Church. TDFPS also contributed several staff members to the event.
Altogether 75 volunteers put time into this project, totaling a cumulative 375 hours. Donated funds totaled $1,550, and donated supplies were valued at $250, for a grand total of $1,800 in donations.
From left to right: Plano Metro Rotary volunteers made snow cones; North Texas Pioneers Rotary Club led a cake walk
The Adoption Awareness Fair in Rotary District 5810 began about 20 years ago, and has moved around to a few different cities within the district since then. Unfortunately the Collin County adoption awareness event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fair’s lead contact at TDFPS, Laqueena Warren, was happy to see it return this year.
“Words can’t express how much [TDFPS] and our precious children appreciate you and your entire team. The children seemed to have so much fun!” Laqueena said.
For Michelle and Glen, this project was personal. “Ever since Glen and I participated in the Grand Prairie Adoption Awareness fairs prior to 2018, and were subsequently invited by TDFPS to have an additional District 5810 event in Collin County, we have wanted to be a part of this program. Glen was adopted so this project is near and dear to his heart, as it is to other volunteers who have told us their adoption stories. Even if only one child from our event was adopted into a forever family, it would be worth it!”
If you are looking to get involved in a service project that meets one of your passions, please visit our Service Projects page and sign up to serve with us.
If interested in serving at next year’s Collin County Adoption Awareness Fair, mark your calendar for March 25, 2023.