Virginia’s Adoption Champion Celebrates National Foster Care Month by Introducing Connecting Hearts

Virginia, May 2015 – Debbie Johnston, Virginia’s Adoption Champion, CEO of Care Advantage, Inc., and an adoptee herself, has welcomed the challenge of securing loving homes for all of Virginia’s children. Since being appointed Adoption Champion by Governor Terry McAuliffe in August of 2014, Johnston strives to spread stronger awareness about the dire need for foster and adoptive families in the state.

To celebrate May as National Foster Care Month, Johnston is proud to introduce Connecting Hearts – The Deborah J Johnston Foundation. The purpose of Connecting Hearts (CH) is to ensure every child has the opportunity for a loving home. CH makes the commitment to thoroughly address support needs across the state by connecting the work of established foster & adoption non-profits, agencies and organizations. CH pledges to continue the commitment to children by providing education, awareness and advocacy. It will work to enhance public understanding and create positive attitudes about adoption and foster care.

For National Foster Care Month, Johnston asks individuals, organizations, and communities to support a child in foster care in any way they can. This month draws public attention to the year-round needs of hundreds of Virginian children who are not living at home because their families are unable to care for them. Children who need foster families have been removed from their birth family by no fault of their own, for reasons of neglect, abuse, abandonment or other risks of endangerment.

With guidance and support from caring adults, youth in foster care are capable of realizing their fullest potential. Foster parenting is an important and rewarding opportunity that helps shape brighter futures. Johnston wishes to extend a request for support of foster care to every member of the commonwealth. Some ways to engage in this work are to simply talk about the need for foster parents, distinguish potential foster or adoptive families, volunteer at local organizations, or foster a child yourself.

Johnston has been featured on ABC’s Secret Millionaire, owns a successful multi-million dollar home-healthcare company, and has been recognized for numerous awards in the community for her philanthropy. Still, she credits her success to her loving Virginia family of eight who adopted her and gave her the basic human right: a family. “This initiative is extremely close to my heart, and I will work tirelessly in my position as Adoption Champion to find homes for our Commonwealth’s exceptional foster children,” said Johnston.

To learn about Connecting Hearts or how to help, contact Executive Director Ericca Facetti at efacetti@connectingheartsva.com. Get updates at www.facebook.com/ConnectingHeartsVA. To find out more about fostering a childvisit Virginia Department of Social Services at www.dss.virginia.gov. For more information about Debbie Johnston head to www.DebbieJohnston.com. Follow her plans, ideas and inspiration at www.facebook.com/DebbieJohnstonRN.

Johnston with children from Great Expectations, a program that offers educational and professional support to Virginia’s foster children.

Johnston with an adopted child at an event celebrating Adoption Month in November 2014.

Facts from the Department of Social Services about Foster Care:

  • There is no income requirement to be a foster parent
  • Single individuals as well as married couples can become foster parents
  • Over 80% of Virginia's foster parents adopt a child who they fostered
  • There are local organizations that provide training, support and advocacy for foster parents
  • Foster parents receive financial assistance

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Job Fair sponsored by Southside Virginia Community College returns Wednesday, June 3, 2015 to the Southside Virginia Education Center at 1300 Greensville County Circle in Emporia.  The event is open to all job seekers from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.  Early entry will be allowed at 1:45 p.m. for those with proof of WorkKeys CRC.

The event is sponsored by Southside Virginia Community College Workforce Development and Student Development Services in partnership with Crater Business Services Team.  This regional job fair will serve employers in this area.  Interested employers who have job vacancies should reserve a booth for this event by May 21, 2015.  A catered luncheon is included for those who register earl and registration can be made at http://tiny.cc/jobfair2015 or by contacting Angela.McClintock@southside.edu.

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Obituary-Paige Harrell Gay

Paige Harrell Gay went home to be with the Lord today, May 13, 2015. She lived full life on this earth. She had a large family. Preceded in death by her husband, William Rufus Gay and one sister, Lucy Harrell Wilson and two brothers, Melvin and Rufus Harrell. She leaves behind five children. William Richard Gay, Tony Craig Gay, Jessica Glenn Gay and Tammy Gay Harrington, all of Emporia and Timothy Russell Gay of Prince George. She has seven grand children. Phillip Russell Moss, Christopher Michael Gay, William Anthony Gay & Elizabeth Nachelle Harrington, all of Emporia. Tiffany Gay of Richmond, Michael Tyler Harrington of Ronoake Rapids North Carolina and McKenzie Taylor Gay of Prince George. And two great grand children, Christopher Michael Gay, Jr. Of Emporia and Alexa.  Of Richmond. And two sisters, Shirley Sledge Williams of Emporia and Joyce Harrell Nowell of Daytona Beach Florida;and a great number of nieces and nephews. She was loved a great deal by many people. She had a very loving and kind spirit and will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Our world will never be the same. The family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Monday, May 18 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Road in Jarratt. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to assist the family with final expenses.  Online condolences may be made at www.owenfh.com

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