A new gethering place and support network for Butler County foster families is planning to open this month thanks to a recent boost of help from volunteers.
In recent months, The Father’s House, housed in a historic building at 425 South D St., has received help from volunteers that include local students.
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Daryl and Roxann Gunnarson have been working for nearly seven years to accomplish their dream of helping improve foster care throughout Butler County.
The building located on three acres along D Street in the Rossville Historic District is being restored room by room. The property formerly housed the Butler County Children’s Home, an orphanage started in 1869 for orphans of the Civil War.
The plan for the property is to house multiple families as well as other resources for foster families to use. Tutoring, cooking lessons, after-school activities, playgrounds, wood shop rooms, a strength training room and more will be available, according to the Gunnarsons.
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The soaring drug epidemic prompted Attorney General Mike DeWine to urge more Ohioans to become foster parents, and The Father’s House would help with the situation, according to the Gunnarsons.
“When we started to put this together the idea was to be able to put together something not just for the few foster kids that are going to live here but to be a support network for all of the foster kids and families in Butler County,” Daryl said. “The drug problems affect foster families but we want to have a facility that foster families — kids and parents — can come to and get the help that they need and be encouraged and that will help kids not to be displaced as much.”
Roxann said that she hoped “the project would have been completed last October,” but things were still in need of completion at the property. Getting the project finished has been an arduous effort for the couple.
But recently, several local high school students became interested in the Gunnarsons’ efforts, including Kaitlyn Robinson, who attends Badin High School.
“Over 30 different Badin students volunteered at The Father’s House,” Robinson said. “I try to bring a group over every week. Local churches and organizations also helped to prepare the project by doing different renovations or donating money.”
Robinson said that helping at the soon-to-be-completed foster care facility is something that she will never forget.
“Connecting myself to The Father’s House, as well as, my school to it, has been an amazing experience,” she said. “Our goal is to have Badin students continuously volunteering there every year, doing renovations, or it is officially opened, tutoring and spending time with the kids.”
Working with the Gunnarsons and getting an understanding of what their mission is was also an eye-opening experience for Robinson.
“Roxanne and Daryl Gunnarson are some of the nicest, most kind hearted people I’ve ever met,” she said. “Helping them work towards finishing their goal and vision for the home has been a blessing. The stories they have shared with me regarding all of their miracles amaze me and make the building even more fascinating.”
A grand opening for The Father’s House is set for 3 to 7 p.m. April 27.