The Village Network
When just four months old, “Billy” was removed from the care of his drug-addicted birth mother and placed in foster care. Four years later, his foster mother had a breakdown and became suicidal. “Billy” was removed from the home and spent the next two years bouncing between different homes, until the age of six. After being hospitalized in a psychiatric ward and heavily reliant on medications, “Billy” was referred to The Village Network.
Rev. Clarence Kerr founded Boys’ Village after viewing Boys Town at a local theater in Wooster, OH. He realized the need to open a similar organization for local youth. The first residential program opened in a Wooster farmhouse in 1946. In the 1960s, small cottages were constructed to provide treatment opportunities for more boys. A gift from the Timken Foundation built a school and Wooster City School teachers began to staff it. In the late 80s and early 90s, the organization began to expand: offering both residential programs and treatment foster care services throughout Ohio. The organization admitted its first girl in 1987, and in 2006, Boys’ Village changed its name to The Village Network.
Continued growth brought the organization to
Mansfield, OH nearly six years ago, and immediately changed lives. “Billy” came to Kim Hartman at The Village Network and was placed in a treatment foster home. His new family worked closely with Kim and worked tirelessly to help him succeed. Through the unique, personal assistance and support The Village Network provides, “Billy” is no longer on medication, and has completed therapy. He was adopted by his foster family, and now actively welcomes new foster kids into the home.
Unfortunately not every story has a happy ending. The Village Network is constantly seeking passionate and capable foster parents to make a difference. President Richard Graziano put it best,
“There is no ideal foster parent. We are looking to match the different strengths and qualities of parents with the right child(ren) to ensure success. A perfect foster parent is a stable, loving, and willing parent.”
Each day, anywhere from 6-10 kids are turned away from placement at the TVN Mansfield office. Nearly 200 kids each month are denied admittance into the program due to a lack of foster parents. The Village Network doesn’t aim for beds to be filled, they aim for lives to be changed, but they cannot do it alone.
Many kids come into care with few aspirations, because the do not see themselves achieving anything worthwhile. 14 year old “Kaila” was referred to Kim and admitted because her mother had significant mental health and substance issues. Today, she is a happily married mother of three. Reflecting on her time with the organization, she states:
“I truly believe the staff at The Village Network shaped me to be the person I am today. I spent two and a half years with them, and they became the only family I ever had. I often think back to the time I spent with (The Village Network) and realize how truly thankful I am. I wouldn’t be the mother, wife, or the adult that I am, had I not had them.”
That is sole mission of The Village Network:
teaching troubled youth to believe in themselves while giving the best care and treatment available. With constant access to in home support services and clinical services, The Village Network seeks to place children in a safe home in an effort to make their relationships happier and healthier. The ultimate goal is to empower youth and their families to build brighter futures and to enable reunification. If you or someone you know wants to make a difference, or have considered becoming a foster parent, contact The Village Network at 419-774-4010 or visit them at 775 Lexington Avenue Mansfield, OH 44907 or online at www.thevillagenetwork.org for more information.