“Dinner’s on Us” Event Shows Appreciation to Foster Families


Oregon Department of Human Services honors Columbia County foster parents with a no-contact barbecue during National Foster Care Month

COLUMBIA COUNTY – The Department of Human Services Child Welfare office staff in Columbia County always plans a wonderful event for foster families in May, National Foster Care Month. It’s a time to recognize that we can each play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. But due to the Stay at Home order, the event would need to be canceled or changed. 

“Everyone was worried. But canceling was not an option,” said Ana Hadar-Ziady, a foster home certifier in Columbia County.

Instead, the no-contact event they are planning is called, “Dinner’s on Us,” which includes putting together boxes with: Full BBQ dinner; pulled pork sliders, two sides and cornbread, picnic blanket, water balloons, sidewalk chalk, kettle corn, pink lemonade, lawn toys, games, frisbee, stickers, glow in the dark necklaces and wands, and dessert.  

But she had to come up with a way to pay for the boxes, costing from $100 for a large box; $50 for a medium; and $25 for a small box. She couldn’t ask local businesses that usually help out, because they were either closed or suffering from the lack of revenue due to COVID. So, she reached out to community organizations, local government officials, and individuals. The goal was to buy the needed items for the boxes while also supporting local businesses in the Columbia County community.

What they found was a “wide range of support for foster parents,” Hadar-Ziady said. She expects that all of the about 80 families in their county will receive a BBQ box delivered to their doorstep on Saturday, May 30.   

“The goal is to provide a little levity, some entertainment, and a little break for our foster families. We wanted to bring the party to them and let them know their community cares about them,” she said. A video with people and organizations thanking foster parents is also planned.

Doing things like this also helps in recruiting and keeping foster parents. The county has had five new families certified since COVID-19 stay at home orders started. Hader-Zaidy credits her team for their work on this project: “I have amazing certification team that I work with and our staff in Columbia has also put in a lot of extra effort to support parents during COVID.”

“Our foster families need a little something extra right now during COVID. We want them to know how much we care and that we’re thankful for them,” Hadar-Ziady said. She also said she’s willing to talk to other Child Welfare offices if they want to do a “Dinner’s on Us” event and share what has worked on to make it a success in the local community.

Sponsors include:

Nate Query from The Decembrists; Pete Krebs, Oregon Music Hall of Fame musician; Kneeland Roofing; Oregon Foster Parent Association; Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center; Columbia Community Mental Health; United Way of Columbia County; Frontline Foods; Senator Betsy Johnson; Elks of St. Helens; Riverside Community Outreach; Oregon State University Extension Project; St. Helens City Council; School Counselors of Columbia County Schools; SEIU 503; and many more….

About Author

Christine Stone is a Communications Officer with the Department of Human Services.

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