Golf scramble at Grayling Country Club raises funds for foster care awareness
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The Grayling Country Club and foster care advocates teamed up last week to host a golf scramble to raise foster care awareness.
The Foster Care Golf Open was held on Thursday, September 19, and was hosted by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) staff from Crawford, Oscoda, and Otsego counties.
This was the fourth year for the golf outing, which was changed to a golf scramble for this year.
The goal of the event was to “Raise Hope and Foster Dreams” as well as to try to recruit people to become foster care parents.
“We want to keep our children in their community when they are removed,” said Emily Turner, the foster care and licensing supervisor for the Crawford, Oscoda and Otsego MDHHS.
Currently, there are 17 foster care homes in Crawford County and 40 homes in the tri-county service area.
Some foster care homes close when the children are adopted out or for other personal reasons. Foster care home regulations for the State of Michigan are also very stringent.
“We see about as many homes closing as opening,” Turner said.
Foster care can also be very challenging.
“It is very difficult being a foster parent, but it can also be very positive,” Turner said.
Turner said the region is fortunate because foster care parents are supportive of biological parents, so they can do what they need to do to get their children back.
“They work hard at not being judgmental and just keep being supportive and helping to keep that bond and tie going,” Turner said.
Ideally, Turner would like to have 40 foster care homes in Crawford County. She said that would help with foster care teens and when large sibling groups are removed from their homes.
“Trying to find homes that are even close enough for them to be able to communicate with each other is a real challenge,” Turner said.
Lori Hunt, a licensing worker for MDHHS in Crawford, Oscoda, and Otsego counties, said funds raised at the golf scramble will go to send children to camp and to buy needed equipment for foster care homes.
“It means a lot to be able to help them out in that way,” Hunt said.
Leslie Vendzuh, a foster care supervisor in Otsego County, said they strive to create the best environment as possible for foster care children.
“It’s really important for us in the tri-county to advocate for the kids that are in care and to really try to provide them with the best possible situation that we can while they’re under our supervision,” she said.
Hole sponsors for the golf scramble were: Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails, Pine Squirrel, Alpena Agency, Inc, Cherry Creek Farms, Gaylord Towing, N & J Auto Diesel Repair, Inc, RISE – Center for Autism, The Oscoda County Herald, Kodiak Group, the Slickers family, Bill and Carol Ellison, and Tom and Jan Hunt.
Various businesses in Crawford, Oscoda, Otsego, Roscommon and Ogemaw counties donated prizes for the golf scramble.
“I am very proud of our staff and what they have done in organizing this and they’re committed to what they do with all of our families in all of our tri-county area and they have invested a lot time and community connections into this to support our youth and our families,” said Jody Schlaufman, the director for the MDHHS in Crawford, Oscoda, and Otsego counties.
The winning team for the golf scramble was Shirlee and Lance Davis and Mike and Kelly Fortino.
The putting contest winner was Keary Sims, Sr., while Lance Davis won the chipping contest.
Mike Fortino, the general manager of the Grayling Country Club, said there is a shared responsibility to support foster care children and families who operate foster care homes.
“This is important for us,” Fortino said. “If we can continue moving in the right direction, I think things are going to be wonderful. From our staff and to this great organization, we wish them the best and hope to be able to help them out in the future.”
For more information about foster care, call 1-855-MICHKIDS.