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Marin IJ/March 2019

Being a foster parent changes lives. Just ask foster parent Ashley Hurd. “Our time with our foster children can leave a lifetime imprint on their lives and our own. Even after a child transitions out of our care, many foster families stay in touch with that child.”

What comes to mind when you think of foster care? If it involves puppies or kittens, you may conjure warm cuddly images of a safe, loving, “temporary-home” environment. For many, that isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with foster care for children. The trauma that precedes official placement in foster care hits first. Yet, the need for that same safe, loving, “temporary-home” environment is critically important for children and often in short supply.

Hurd also serves as a Marin Foster Care Association board member. She knows the statistics: “100 to 110 children are in the system in Marin with 20 teens awaiting placement with a foster family. We want to change the face of foster care. We want people to know that foster parents look like you and me.”

Darcy Alkus Barrow also serves on the board with Hurd and adds, “We always need volunteers to help with our events. Two each year are designed especially for the families, our holiday party and our picnic. When the families come together and the kids are enjoying themselves, the last thing you’d think is that they are poor or damaged in any way. You can’t tell the foster kids from any of our kids. Marin’s abundance can give people the impression that every need is met here, but we would love to see more foster parents.”

By having more Marin families open their hearts and homes to foster children, those children may experience less upheaval and displacement. When kids enter foster care, if a foster home can’t be found in their own county, they are placed, by necessity, in the East Bay and counties as far away as Santa Barbara.

“We want to recruit more families, but we know not everyone can foster,” Hurd says. “We’ve listed on our website at least 10 things people can do, if they want to help. We always need donated items, new or gently used, in our Community Resource Center in San Rafael. Sometimes a new foster parent has to get ready to receive a child on short notice and may need specific items, like clothing or diapers, depending on the age of the child.”

Barrow chairs an upcoming event and adds, “Our traditional Walk-A-Thon jigged into a Dance-A-Thon this year on April 28. We wanted to encourage our children to get involved in philanthropy and a dance, with a DJ and fun activities seemed like a natural fit.” To learn more:

More storage

Americans love stuff. What can’t be kept in a spare room or the garage is often squirreled away in a storage unit. Central San Rafael storage, a modern 60,000-square-foot space at 3105 Kerner Blvd., opened for business last week and is ready for, well, stuff and lots of it.

Managing owner Matt Guthrie learned from his ownership in another San Rafael storage space at 675 Anderson Drive. He explained, “We knew what we wanted to include, what would be important, like the access for 18 wheelers to pull right in and unload. A covered area so unloading could happen even in the rain, the two elevators to get stuff to the upper floors easily. We are also using a web-based management system and 24/7 security.”

Property manager Ryan Swisher said, “We are already renting units and today we got the sound system up, so we can load or unload listening to music. One other thing. We can receive packages for tenants or take shipment delivery. That coupled with the great security system is something tenants appreciate. I am brushing up on my Spanish, since many of our neighbors are Spanish-speakers. Right now, we are also planning for our Grand Opening, on Thursday, May 9. We’ll have food and festivities. The mayor will be here for a ribbon cutting.” To learn more:

Home Goods

A 600-square-foot section of collapsed roof last October closed the Home Goods store at Northgate. Two employees, who were in the store that early morning, heard a loud crack and were able to get out the doors just before the roof failed. Calls to Northgate management were routed to Home Goods corporate offices, messages left, but no return calls have been received.

A stealthy surveillance of the property revealed that a gaping, possibly 600-square-foot section of sky can be clearly seen through the unrepaired roof. The inside of the store remains emptied of everything but building equipment. For all those disappointed shoppers who have asked, no reopening date for Home Goods is available at this time.

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