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Sunday, November 27, 2022

UF student creates club to support local foster children

Sara Lind wants to help foster children because her father lived in a foster home when he was a baby.

But when the political science sophomore looked into it at UF, she found no student organization focused on the cause, so she decided to create one.

UF Students Activities and Involvement approved the application for her organization, “Gator Strong Families,” which will advocate for children and help foster care families, on Thursday.

Lind, 19, said the organization plans to create internships and shadowing opportunities with Partnership for Strong Families, a nonprofit. It will also help foster families by cooking meals or babysitting, create mentorship opportunities and host fundraising events, like a back-to-school backpack drive.

“I am very passionate about every kid having a family and a loving home to go to,” the 19-year-old said.

Lind and the other organization co-president, vice president and treasurer will attend a mandatory New Student Organization Info Session on Wednesday.

Then they must submit official paperwork online to GatorConnect. Once this is completed and confirmed by Student Activities and Involvement, the organization is finally approved and can request funding from Student Government.

Hannah Green, an outreach recruitment specialist for Partnership for Strong Families, said she has worked with Lind throughout the planning process of interconnecting the two organizations.

Partnership for Strong Families is a nonprofit that focuses on helping the foster care system, the 23-year-old said. The organization covers 1,300 children across 13 counties in North Central Florida.

In Alachua County, there are about 300 foster children, Green said. There is an average of 110 to 120 foster care families registered throughout the 13 counties.

She said she hopes Gator Strong Families can become ambassadors in the community. Green said although UF dominates Gainesville, it is still in the dark about the social injustices happening in the town. “I cannot wait for the day when Gainesville is known not just for the Gators, but for a town that is known for social justice,” she said.

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