The balloon animals, bouncy castle, barbecue, cotton candy, popcorn, spin art, and all day carnival games, along with many other fun activities allowed everyone to enjoy the day fully.
“When we are here we get a chance to socialize with other foster parents,” said foster mom Barbara Emmanuel. “You get to see people you don’t normally see. The kids get a chance to run around and be kids, you know, just have fun.”
Forestdale’s social service roots go all the way back to Brooklyn in 1854. A group of local women founded the Brooklyn Industrial School Association and Home for Destitute Children. In 1941 the Brooklyn Home for Children was bequeathed a parcel of land in Forest Hills. It was here that a five building campus was constructed as Forestdale.
In 2017, Forestdale is the only child welfare agency headquartered in Queens. Their three and a half acre campus includes open fields, a basketball court and a playground donated by JetBlue. Their goal is to ensure the wellbeing of abused and neglected children through foster care and adoption.
Forestdale has been known to partner up with schools, religious organizations, business owners and community leaders to address the underlying causes of families in crisis. For this event the families at Forestdale were supported by several members of the Forest Hills Lions Club. The Forest Hills Lions Club was established in 1952 and has continued their social service work ever since. Their involvement at Forestdale Inc. made a big difference for the families in attendance.
From the tug of war and water balloon tosses, to the relay races, there was ample time for foster families to connect with one another.
Vice president Cher Sparano stated, “All day long there’s party, fun, food, carnival, prizes, and the kids have a ball and so do we!”
Sparano also shared that the people who can enter the premises of the festival is limited. Their goal is to keep a safe environment.
“It’s a private affair just for Forestdale and everyone who belongs to the agency,” she said, adding that the grounds are “very well protected.”
The agency's executive director, Anstiss Agnew, further elaborated on the planning that goes into this event. With the number of burgers, stuffed animals, and volunteer workers, he said there was a lot to do in order to achieve an event that could do so much for the families.
“A lot of planning goes into this but we’re fortunate to have the lions club volunteers,” Agnew said. “They do most of the work.”
(Angelica Katcher and Natalie Rios)