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Free foster parent orientation offered every Thursday

BY DANIEL PAXTON dpaxton@paducahsun.com

BenchMark Family Services of Paducah is offering a free orientation workshop from 1-6 p.m. every Thursday during July for those interested in becoming foster parents.

Michelle Purefide, BenchMark Paducah's regional director, said the region needs more foster homes.

During orientation, Purefide hopes to recruit compassionate individuals who will open their homes to a child in need.

"You can be a hero. There are so many people out there with a real gift for parenting, and that's exactly what these kids need. They need that gift. They need a hero," Purefide said. Nearly 90 percent of people who participate in the orientation go on to become foster parents, she added.

Four years ago, Holly Butrum heard about BenchMark. Knowing the kinds of hardship children who need foster homes have endured since being fostered herself for most of her adolescence, she felt driven to help in some way.

Butrum received training through BenchMark and has fostered 12 children in four years, in addition to being a mother of three biological children. She is in the process of adopting two children whom she is fostering.

"To me, it's rewarding because I can help kids who need it," said Butrum of being a foster parent. "These kids have been through a rough life. I can give them an insight that things can get better. I was able to overcome and prosper. I can show them that you can find a happy, healthy life."

BenchMark's Paducah office, 710 H.C. Mathis Drive, serves foster parents and children in nearly the entire Purchase region. It provides training and support for both potential and current foster families year round.

Prior to becoming a foster parent, an interested individual must have completed 36 hours of training. To maintain eligibility, a foster parent must receive at least 24 hours of training every year.

To schedule an orientation, call BenchMark Family Services at 270-408-1361.

Contact Daniel Paxton, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8667.

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