1Hope--in a New Home-- Gets Praise From Foster Parents, Kenosha County

June 2, 2024 8:30p

(WGTD)---A non-profit that gets high praise for helping Kenosha County recruit and retain badly-needed foster parents has a permanent home.

The 1Hope Community Center is located on 77th St. near the Kenosha Ice Arena. The group held an open house and ribbon-cutting last week.

1Hope draws financial support and dozens of volunteers from a half-dozen churches and a number of businesses. 

The group’s main mission, according to Director Karisa Wenberg, is to provide various support services for the area’s foster families. "When they decide to make the leap of faith to do it, they're feeling supportive. They're feeling like if they need resources they can reach out to us to help them," said Wenberg.

Up until now, 1Hope's two and a half employees have been working out of homes and coffee shops. 

Wenberg has been executive director of the five-year-old non-profit for less than two years. She spent 20 years at Bullen Middle School in Kenosha, serving first as a special needs teacher and then as a dean of students.

1Hope currently works with over 85 foster families, providing occasional meals, babysitting services, special networking events and even diapers.

Elly Nesser and her husband currently foster four children--a baby, a pair of three-year-olds and a 16-year-old. "I would not be able to take four without some of the benefits and some of the love 1Hope gives us," Nesser said. 

The county provides a stipend for each child, but that doesn't cover the cost of the level of care that the family provides. "If you take these kids in like they're your own that doesn't cover nearly enough. But we're not in it for the money. We're in it to save little lives and make them strong and beautiful for the future. 1Hope helps us do that," she said. 

1Hope has a $45,000 contract with the county. The contract has led to a steady increase in the number of families willing to foster, according to Starr Burke, a supervisor with the county's Division of Children and Family Services.

She calls the support "invaluable."

1Hope was founded by a pastor from Journey Church and initially offered a variety of community service. But in recent years the group has focused on helping foster parents, according to Wenberg.

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