Foster children sometimes deal with severe trauma ranging from abuse, neglect, or simply lack of affection. Many foster children are moved from foster home to foster home, making it difficult to maintain a sense of stability or identity, especially when compared to peers their own age.
The Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) volunteers help in countless ways, from teaching taekwondo to children in foster care to repairing bicycles for children living in group homes.
For the last nine months, Paramus resident Leslie Lafrano has been volunteering to make a positive impact, one child at a time, by visiting a group home for girls managed by CAFS.
CAFS determined Lafrano has shed a good light on what can often be a difficult and vulnerable time in their young lives. They honored her Thursday along with 13 other Bergen County volunteers.
The other volunteers were Marsha and Ted Burke of Glen Rock, Elizabeth Crimmins of Ridgewood, Nicholas Diaz of Maywood, Sal Garcia of Elizabeth, Cheryl Glick of Montvale, Lucretia Holmes-Smith of Paterson, Soobean Jo of Cresskill, Jillian and Natalie Luftman of Glen Rock, Mary Beth Lyons of Ridgewood, John Mills of Ridgewood, Gail Stamatopoulos of Westwood, and Stephanie Tormey of Millington.
“On behalf of Children’s Aid and Family Services, I thank all of these individuals for their generous contributions of time and talent to the agency and the children and families we serve,” says Bob Jones, President/CEO of CAFS. “They and all the other volunteers who help in countless ways, make the work we do possible.”
Lafrano often travels with her faithful companion, Max, a certified therapy dog. Together they visit the agency’s therapeutic group home and the children play and interact with Max as part of their group therapy.
“Leslie volunteers because she enjoys giving back and it allows her to focus on other people,” said Sheila Riccardi from CAFS. “The girls love it when Max visits weekly. They play with him and simply feel like kids for the time he’s [Max] is there. And yes, Max does get doggie treats and lots of affection from them.”
Children’s Aid and Family Services is a leading non-profit human services organization serving northern New Jersey. The agency is fully accredited and has served the community for more than 110 years. Its mission is to preserve, protect and, when needed, provide families.
Motivated by compassion for vulnerable children, young adults, frail elderly and their families, it provides high-quality and innovative services that meet their social, educational and emotional needs.
For more information on Children’s Aid and Family Services and to learn more about volunteer opportunities, call 201.261.2800 or visit www.cafsnj.org.