LYNCHBURG, Va. – One group in Lynchburg broke ground on a new home Tuesday by applying a fresh coat of paint to the front door, symbolizing a fresh start on an old home, and maybe no one was more excited to pick up a paintbrush than Dana Guenther.
“This whole project is just a dream coming true. I never thought that we could help with this problem,” said Guenther.
And the problem Guenther is referring to is how children enter foster care – They’re brought to the department of social services to wait for their placement.
“Sometimes this wait can be several hours or even overnight; and [children] wait in a conference room or a cubicle down at the office,” said Guenter.
Guenther’s solution is to renovate the home in Lynchburg, where children will stay temporarily with volunteers, food, furniture, and new clothes.
The house is called the Isaiah 117 House and is an idea that originated in Tennessee in 2017.
The Lynchburg home will be the 22nd one being built nationwide – but this will be the first one in Virginia.
Guenther has a personal connection for wanting to make a difference with this residence.
“My husband and I have been fostering since 2017. We’ve had 14 children come through our home; and we have firsthand picked up children who were waiting at the office,” said Guenther.
April Watson, deputy director with Lynchburg Human Services, sais this new home is a better solution while workers focus on finding foster homes.
“This gives us a safe place for children to land in the moments when we’re trying to make the best possible placement,” said Watson.
Guenther hopes this will ease the transition and reduce trauma.
“Just a more-welcoming environment on what’s already a traumatic day for kids,” Guenther said.
Guenther’s group has raised about $275,000 so far. The group’s goal is $500,000 and hopes to open the site in early 2023.