As the state opens back up, Goshen Valley continues to provide awareness and support for the foster care system.
“The state, our partners with the Division of Family and Children Services, have done an excellent job in the midst of this,” Blend said.
Families continue to be licensed and children have been placed in their homes during this time.
“We have continued that work, we have also continued online Impact Training,” Blend said. “We continue to have couples in waiting to do more of this work, so I am grateful for the state in how they continue to prioritize opening homes.”
In the time after the pandemic, Blend said he expects a season of vulnerable children needing services from places such as Goshen.
“For us to be able to have the bandwidth to step in and play an important role, is something we wanted to ensure we can continue despite the difficulties of working remotely,” he said.
Goshen Valley Boys Ranch is currently focusing on its summer academy.
“This year, we will have all 40 or so boys on the ranch in a summer academy camp setting or some will be working around the campus,” Blend said.
In the past, Goshen has focused on finding off-campus work for the older youth.
“That is just not feasible this year, so we are doing everything we can to ensure the campus is safe and that the kids are as active as possible to make the most out of these next couple of months,” he said. “Having the Wellness Center has been significant game changer as far a facility.”
College interns have also returned to the campus to work with the boys that will be working and those in the day camp.
Not only have the boys on the ranch been unable to leave campus, they have been unable to see friends and families as visitation was stopped early on in the quarantine process. A priority for Goshen is to create a safe setting for the boys to visit their families again.
“There is a lot of concern about when you start to open back up and connect with people, you don’t know where they have been or what they have been doing, so we have a pretty strict CDC plan in place that will allow families to start to come out to the ranch to see their loved ones,” Blend said. “We hope that it can be the first step in being able to reconnect the kids appropriately.”
Once settled, Goshen will be focusing on preparing their boys for school again this fall.
“[We have] hopes of getting ready for school again in the fall. As much as they enjoyed and did so well in the setting we created, I think everyone would welcome the opportunity to be back in school sometime soon,” Blend said.
Looking forward, Goshen Valley will continue bi-weekly food and supply drives.
“Some of that focus is going to shift to things that are more specific to what we are going to do this summer with the kids, specifically more for on campus,” he said. “Social media continues to be a great place for the community to connect with us on things that are going on.”
Goshen also plans to move forward with their fall events, dependent on safety guidelines, such as their A Night with Goshen fundraiser and golf tournament.
“As that information gets shared with the community, we want people to come back and embrace us, attend our events,” Blend said. “We look forward to having volunteers back on our ranch this fall. For those that have been socially distanced themselves, reach back out — our hope is that we can see some old and new friends and continue to move our mission in the right direction.”
Blend said that though Goshen has faced differences on the ranch, they are grateful for the support from the community.
“Through it all, we have felt the prayers and the support of our Cherokee County community - something we will not soon forget, truly the gift of peace and purpose,” Blend said. “Families are at the core of our mission and it has never been more apparent to me that the reasoning behind that as we serve these children well not only in the good times but even in those times that are difficult for all of us.”