Valley organization helps foster kids go on summer vacation

Kyra O’Connor
5 Min Read

Ohana is a social services agency providing foster children and adults with special needs residential and supportive services, including summer vacation.

PHOENIX — “Ohana means family.”

It’s a common phrase you’ve probably heard in a movie or read in a book. But for Ryan and Sarah Senters, it’s not just a phrase: it’s what they built their social services organization, “Ohana,” on.

“Our dream was always that we wanted to create a home that felt like a family,” Ryan Senters said. “No matter how long they’re with us, they can feel like a sense of family. Ohana means family and family means no is left behind or forgotten.”

Ryan and Sarah Senters have been foster parents for about 15 years and have loved their experience providing homes for children in need – but eventually, they couldn’t foster any more children, and that’s how Ohana started in 2015.

What started as one home for ten boys and 6 staff members has become over 40 homes and over 500 staff members. The goal of Ohana is to provide support systems and family environments for foster youth and adults with special needs, according to the website.

“We want kids to be kids,” Ryan Senters said.

Ryan Senters explained that many children in foster care do not have the opportunity to go on summer vacations, something Ohana wants to change. 

Ohana brought eight kids on summer vacation to California in 2016. In 2024, Ohana will bring over 200 kids to camp at a campground in California, complete with bonfires and a talent show night.

“One of the best memories I have in my head is vacation with my Mom,” Ryan Senters said. “Kids deserve that. Every kid deserves a vacation.”

Ryan Senters said he has watched kids who have never seen the ocean before dip their toes in the water or build a sand castle for the first time on vacations with Ohana. 

“Watching their joy is so awesome,” Ryan Senters said. 

But to bring over 200 kids to California is no small feat. Ryan Senters said there is months of planning that goes into the vacations. 

If you want to help Ohana, Ryan Senters said one big way community members can help is by designating their tax dollars to Ohana through the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit. 

“Any individual can think back to these moments in their life when they got to be a kid,” Ryan Senters said. “Arizona’s kids in the foster care system deserve that memory as well.”

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Kyra O’Connor ,
KPNX Vivrr Local Feed: community , 2024-04-03 18:18:14
Categories: heartwarming,life,community,news,valley,local,home

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