May is National Foster Care Month, and Family Service of Rhode Island is utilizing the opportunity to raise awareness that LGBTQQI foster parents are needed to provide loving homes for children in need.
“We hope more LGBTQQI Rhode Islanders will step forward to open their hearts and homes,” said Family Service of Rhode Island CEO Margaret Holland McDuff. “We’ve developed a recruitment campaign called #WeTakePrideinAllFamilies and are thankful Marc Fernandes and Michael Leighton, two former foster parents and now adoptive parents, have helped with this effort, proudly marching with our 'WeTakePrideinAllFamilies' banner in last year’s Rhode Island Pride parade.”
Foster parents are needed for Rhode Island children of all ages, from infants to teenagers. "There's particularly a need for homes for older children," said Christine Forsyth, who is a foster mom of two teenagers and clinical director of Family Service of Rhode Island's foster care program. "Singles, partnered, married, already parenting--all are welcome! Please contact us! We take pride in all families!"
Potential foster parents go through screening and training before receiving a state license. "We work with you to ensure it's a good match for you and the involved child or children," she said. Anyone interested should call the agency's foster care program at 401-331-1350 ext. 3305, email here, or click here for the foster care web page.
Marc Fernandes and Michael Leighton (left to right in the photo above) thought a long time about becoming parents. "A few years after we bought our home we started to discuss the idea of adopting a child. We decided we should start by becoming foster parents to see if we had what it takes to be parents."
The two men, who were recently married, started fostering a sister and brother, Zendaiya (left in photo) and Jaydais, when the two were nine months old and almost two, respectively. "I will never forget the day they arrived and the way we felt when we first held them," said Marc. Suddenly having two little children at once was a huge adjustment, he said, but, "we had plenty of support from Family Service of Rhode Island. We really can't say enough about the support they provided us."
Today Zendaiya is weeks from turning three and Jaydais will soon be celebrating his fourth birthday. Earlier this year, this foster family officially became an adoptive family.
Marc and Michael feel they haven’t had any issues or challenges with being gay foster and now adoptive parents. “We have been very open with our places of employment, neighbors, friends, family and community,” said Michael. “I feel strongly about being ‘all or nothing’ and standing proud being who we are and knowing in our hearts we are doing a good thing. I think people who have seen us out and about have been very happy for us knowing we are giving these two beautiful children a loving, happy home.”
Superstar Diana Ross is coming to the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) and AIDS Project Rhode Island and Richie D, Mr. Gay Rhode Island 2015, have created a fundraising event called “Divas, Drinks & Dessert" to celebrate and raise money for a great cause!
The event, on Thursday, April 14, includes a cocktail reception
at the “Rooftop at the Providence G” prior to the Diana Ross concert, a ticket
to Diana Ross’ “In The Name of Love” show at PPAC, and, following the concert,
back at the Rooftop at the Providence G, “Dessert with ‘Diana’ and Friends.”
Ticket and sponsorship information are available by clicking here.
In addition to hit records as a member
of The Supremes, Diana Ross’ hits include “I’m Coming Out,” “Love Hangover,” “Touch
Me in the Morning,” and “Theme from Mahogany.”
“We are excited to have this opportunity
to raise money to fight HIV/AIDS in conjunction with local arts events,
especially with a concert starring an icon like Diana Ross,” said AIDS Project
Rhode Island executive director Stephen Hourahan. “The recent study from
the Centers for Disease Control underscores the importance of heightening the
fight against HIV/AIDS, and to do that fundraising is critical.”
A first-of-its-kind Centers for Disease
Control study released in February found that African American men who have sex
with other men have a one in two (50%) chance of being diagnosed with HIV in
their lifetime; Hispanic men who have sex with other men have a one in four
chance (25%). “These and other numbers are shocking and a call to
action,” he said.
also pointed out that a local study, conducted by authors at Brown University,
The Miriam Hospital and the Rhode Island Department of Health, found a strong
link between “hook up” sites on-line and new HIV diagnoses. “Prevention
outreach needs to be heightened. We’re hoping that the owner of these
sites will step forward to work with us to prevent the spread of HIV.”
Portions of the proceeds of this event
will benefit AIDS Project Rhode Island’s initiative to support prevention. This includes getting people who are HIV+
into treatment and care, promoting regular testing, and advocacy of prevention
methods like condoms and “PrEP.” PrEP,
pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a pill that when taken daily protects the body
from contracting the HIV virus.
D said he was pleased to help raise money for AIDS Project Rhode Island.
“It’s going to be a wonderful evening for a wonderful cause,” he said.“The evening will be full of entertainment. We have a very talented cast of
performers for our 'Dessert with ‘Diana’ and Friends' who graciously have
donated their time," he added.
evening will include performances in the likes of many of your favorite divas,
like Lady Gaga, Bette Midler, and Liza Minnelli. In addition there will a tribute to Diana
Ross performed by the multi-talented Jackie Collins. We also are so appreciative of the generous
sponsor contribution from the Rooftop at the Providence G which allows this
event to be possible.” For more information about the event and to learn about free, rapid and anonymous HIV and Hepatitis C testing, visit www.aidsprojectri.org. AIDS Project Rhode Island is a division of Family Service of Rhode Island.