BRADENTON -- Seventy Manatee County children were removed from their homes last month due to abuse, neglect or abandonment, said Andrea Mertyris with the Sarasota Y Safe Children Coalition.
These children, officially called "new intakes," often have to be put in shelters or taken to Sarasota or DeSoto county due to lack of foster home space in Manatee, Mertyris told a crowd of 300 at a Guardian Angels of Southwest Florida Inc. fundraiser Tuesday night at Renaissance on 9th.
Guardian Angels of Southwest Florida Board members Floyd and Bobbie Price said the children are gifts from God who need safe, faith-based foster homes to live in until they can be adopted.
The Prices asked for donations so the Guardian Angels can begin a new phase of building foster homes along Ellenton-Gillette Road. The campus has a capacity for nine homes, Price said.
A third foster home, which can house six children, is already being built on the campus, but the 9-acre tract requires site work and infrastructure, including roads, landscaping and drainage, said Bobbie Price.
"Before the county will give us another permit we must have this work done," Bobbie Price said. "We need $300,000 for site work, $25,000 for engineering and $25,000 in permit work."
Reuben and Jessica Gutierrez, foster parents for one of the homes in Palmetto, said children love living there because friends in the neighborhood share their issues.
Florida Baptist Children's Homes owns and runs the homes while the nonprofit Guardian Angels are the funding arm.
"One of our homes does not now have foster parents," Bobbie Price said. "They must be licensed. We are waiting for someone to feel the call."
To donate or be a foster parent for six children, call 941-792-5374. Donations can be made at guardianangelsfl.org or by mail at Guardian Angels of Southwest Florida, 1429 60th Ave. W., Suite 200, Bradenton FL 34207.