WARREN — In less time than it took for country music artist Chris Higbee to play a tune on his fiddle on Saturday, a child was placed into foster care in Ohio.

Cheryl Tarnatino, who has been director of Northeast Ohio Foster Care and Adoption Services for the past 11 years, said a child is placed in foster care every two minutes. She has been with the agency for 18 years.

“There are over 15,000 children in foster care in Ohio and there are only 7,300 licensed foster homes. This is a crucial time in Ohio and in America. Help is sorely needed. Of the children in foster care in Ohio, around 40% are 11 and older. This is the age where a loving family and home are needed to thrive,” Tarantino said. “We are a small local agency, but have a very motivated professional staff that will hold your hand every step of the way. We are here to make your journey easier with education and proper support.”

She provided these statistics at the second annual Country for NOAS Kids music festival at the Griffin-Sloas Airfield in Warren. Last year’s festival raised more than $50,000 and the agency’s goal this year is $75,000.

In order for NOAS to provide a full range of services, free of charge, it must raise nearly $250,000 a year. The organization is not funded by the state, and although grants are applied for throughout the year, they would never generate enough funds for the agency to survive, Tarantino said.

“So that is why fundraising, sponsorships and donations have become so important,” she said.

NOAS’s next fundraiser will be a golf outing called “Play it for the Kids” at the Trumbull Country Club on June 3. Tickets for the event will be sold at NOAS.com and tickets include a round of golf, lunch and dinner.

Another fundraiser is a drawing for a seven-day trip for two at the Eldorado Royale Spa & Resort in Mexico. Tickets are on sale on the NOAS.com website and are $25 each or five for $100. The winner can take the trip or take the cash value of $3,500. Trip dates will be Oct. 25-Nov. 1. The winner will be announced at noon June 4.

Tarantino said the country music concert takes place in May because it is National Foster Parents Appreciation Month.

“This event is a huge undertaking. But the success of the event and being able to put on a show of this magnitude was made possible by the unwavering support of the NOAS staff and dozens of volunteers. And we are very grateful to all of them,” said Kathy Evans, marketing director for NOAS.

The biggest expense for the fundraiser was the stage and sound setup for the bands, but Evans said the musicians donated most or all of their expenses. Jim Wetstone (owner of Toyota of Warren) and Kim Griffin also donated use of their property for the music festival.

Evans said in addition to more event sponsors, more than 500 tickets were sold online before the show and tickets also could be purchased at the gate.

Evans and her husband, Dave, are parents to two foster children from Russia – Tanya and James — so she said she knows the importance and vital need for foster care in Ohio and locally.

The emcee for Saturday’s event was Karli Whetstone Datish, a country singer and songwriter from Warren.

“Each band had us on our feet and rocked this place,” said Wendy Wright of Hubbard.

Featured artists this year were Brookfield native and national talent Chris Higbee & his Band, featuring his son, Alex, who is an up and coming fiddler extraordinaire just like his dad.

Also featured was pianist, singer and songwriter Katherine Rein of Canfield, who now lives in Nashville. She brought the crowd to tears when she performed a song she wrote called “Parents.” The song is about her parents who adopted her and about the warmth and acceptance that changed her life forever. The song is now NOAS’s theme song.

Four other bands and entertainers opening for Chris Higbee were Alex Seier from Nashville, Hampshyre from Virginia (with ties in Howland), Nestor Andress and Tyler Conti, both from Nashville.

In addition to the music, there were 16 gift baskets donated from various individuals and businesses, including a private dinner for six at Station Square restaurant in Liberty valued at $750. There also was a 50/50 raffle and separate charity pull tab tickets to win $500.

The NOAS is subsidized in part by a major grant from the Dave Thomas (Wendy’s) Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation, private donors and donations from local and regional businesses such as Toyota of Warren, WKBN-TV 27, The TMG Companies, Rhino Fin Consulting and Impact Records

NOAS has been in this area for the past 46 years. It has taken a leadership role in the field of foster care and adoption services, including child assessments, child specific media recruitment campaigns, comprehensive education for family preparation and post placement follow through, Tarantino said.



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