EL CENTRO, Calif. -
A local organization throws a carnival for foster kids in the area.
El Centro resident Betsy Pino plays and jokes with foster kids at Wednesday’s winter carnival at Bucklin Park. She understands them. She’s one of them.
“Going into the foster care system I thought I was in trouble. Imagine getting taken away from your parents going in a vehicle, cop car – police car – just being scared, going into a receiving home,” Pino said.
She was a teen when separated from her mother and little brother.
“Me and my brother became really close, because we went through the process together. So, when they separated us it was painful. It was very terrifying, but once I got into the system and I started realizing it’s a different world,” Pino said.
A world of people caring for them: a foster family.
“They have helped me so much through mentoring, through their workshops and just being able to have that extra help,” Pino said.
She’s now in college and has gotten close to her younger brother.
“Everything that we went through, we had to go through in order to make us stronger people. And we just overcame it and we are stronger for it,” Pino said.
Event organizers said they want to put smiles on the hundreds of local foster kids.
IVROP Project Ace Manager Luis Torres said, “During the holidays, a lot of times they start feeling stressed out for being separated from their parents, brothers and sisters. So, what we do is put together this fun event to help cheer them up for a day.”
Pino invites everyone to get involved and make a difference.
“If each person at least just tried to give attention to at least one child and give that mentorship, that role model, I think it would make such a difference in their life. Being able to bring a little joy to these children, it means the world to them; it means the world to us,” Pino said.
Anyone who wants to help or who wants to become a mentor, please contact the local IVROP or Child Protective Services.