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  • newsroom-icon NEWS STORIESJan 30, 2018


    For Immediate Release: 1/30/2018

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has awarded the New York State Office of Children and Family Services a $5.1 million grant over four years to hire family recruiters for older children who have spent more than two years in the foster care system. The state will match the grant funds with $4 million to invest a total of $9.1 million to find permanent adoptive families for these children.

    “Every child deserves a family who cares for them in a safe and nurturing place to call home,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this partnership, New York will focus on finding permanent homes and devoted families for our children in need, while helping build stronger, more supportive communities across this great state.”

    Children served under the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program are age 9 and above, have spent at least two years in foster care, and are freed for adoption or another planned living arrangement. This partnership will support the hiring of 24 recruiters to focus entirely on the experiences and needs of these children to help identify appropriate adoptive homes. There are currently no family recruiters working only for this segment of the foster care population in the Upstate New York area. There are 600 children who fall under the program’s focus in the targeted counties of Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Erie, Montgomery, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk and Westchester.

    The recruiters hired under this grant will join an existing complement of recruiters already working in Steuben, Tompkins, Seneca, Oneida, Oswego, Broome, Delaware, St. Lawrence, Cortland, Niagara, Allegany and Madison Counties. There are also plans for future expansion to cover the entire state.

    President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Rita Soronen said, “The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is committed to finding loving, permanent homes for children who are most at risk of aging out of foster care. The Foundation’s signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids uses an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. Children served by this model are up to three times more likely to be adopted, with more than 6,500 children adopted nationally to date. We look forward to a very successful partnership on behalf of the longest waiting children in New York.”

    Acting OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “OCFS is excited to partner with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids to help children who have been waiting in the foster care system the longest to find their way home. We are grateful to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for this wonderful gift which will enable us to help these children receive the best gift of all – a family of their own.”

    Senator Tony Avella, Chair of the Children and Families Committee said, “As Chair of the Children and Families Committee, I am grateful to the Dave Thomas Foundation for its generous donation to help New York’s waiting children. These funds will increase the number of family recruiters and the counties they cover so we can redouble our efforts to match great kids in foster care with equally great families for successful, permanent adoptions.”

    Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee, Chair of the Children and Families Committee said, “Among my top priorities as Committee Chair is the well-being of children and youth in foster care. I am deeply grateful to The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and to Governor Cuomo for providing this much-needed funding to OCFS. It is my hope that we can continue our efforts to secure similar support and expand these critical programs and services to every county across the state, so that our most vulnerable children and youth can find permanent homes with families that will help them build strong, productive lives and contribute to their communities.”

    About the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption 
    The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated exclusively to finding permanent homes for the more than 140,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s® founder Dave Thomas who was adopted, the Foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs, foster care adoption awareness campaigns and innovative grant making. To learn more, visit or call 1-800-ASK-DTFA.   ###

    Additional news available at
    New York State | Executive Chamber | | 518.474.8418

  • newsroom-icon NEWS STORIESJan 10, 2018

    Columbus, Ohio – January 10, 2018 – The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption announced today that Mary Schell, chief public affairs officer for The Wendy’s Company, has been elected as chair of its board of trustees. Todd Penegor, president and chief executive officer of The Wendy’s Company, has been elected vice chair.

    Schell, who has been a member of the board since 2001, has been with The Wendy’s Company for more than 22 years. A graduate of Miami University of Ohio, she also serves on the boards of directors of National Council of Chain Restaurants at National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Jo Ann Davidson Ohio Leadership Institute and Miami University Dolibois European Center.

    “Mary’s commitment to the Foundation’s mission and the children and youth that we serve is both sincere and passionate,” said Rita Soronen, president & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “Her service to the board has been instrumental to the Foundation’s success thus far and we look forward to her leadership into 2018.”

    “I am honored to serve in this new capacity,” Schell said. “The Foundation has dedicated itself to focused, strategic growth in the coming years in order to fully achieve its mission of dramatically increasing adoptions from North America’s foster care systems. It is a privilege to serve at this critical time.”

    Penegor, who has been a member of the board since 2016, has been with The Wendy’s Company since 2013 and the president and chief executive officer since 2016. Previously, he held several key leadership positions at the Kellogg Company, including vice president of Kellogg Company and president of U.S. Snacks. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and also serves on the Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business financial advisory board.

    “Todd’s deep organizational leadership experience and his commitment to financial stewardship are incredibly valuable to this board position,” Soronen said. “He also remains personally dedicated to the work that Dave Thomas started and actively contributes to carrying it forward.”

    “It is a privilege to serve on this board,” Penegor said. “As the CEO of The Wendy’s Company, I can think of no better way to honor Dave Thomas’ legacy, than to serve in this role. All children deserve a loving home and a permanent family, and I’m honored to work with Rita and the entire board to achieve the critical and life-changing mission of the Foundation.”

    The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, through its signature programs and strategic awareness efforts addresses the needs of children in foster care waiting to be adopted while driving adoptions for the longest waiting children.

  • newsroom-icon NEWS STORIESNov 28, 2017

    CBS announced that singer-songwriter Josh Groban will headline the 19th annual A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, to be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Also, Kelly Clarkson, Kacey Musgraves and Kane Brown are set to perform on the special.

    A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS features uplifting stories of adoption from foster care and raises awareness of this important social issue. The inspirational stories of these American families are enhanced with performances by some of today’s most popular artists.

    Singer, songwriter and actor Josh Groban has entertained fans globally with his multi-platinum albums and DVDs (over 30 million sold worldwide), electrifying live performances and comedic film and television appearances. He is the only artist who has had two albums on the Top Ten Bestselling Albums list in the past decade, according to Billboard. Groban has released seven studio albums and received numerous Grammy Award nominations. In 2016 he embarked on an extensive North American tour to support his album Stages, titled “Josh Groban: On Stage.” That year, Groban also made his Broadway debut in the new musical “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.” He is a member of Americans for the Arts Artists Committee and his Find Your Light Foundation helps enrich the lives of young people through the arts.

    Multiple Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson recently released her eagerly anticipated eighth studio album, Meaning of Life, which is a collection of smart and sensual soul-inspired pop. The Texas-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter came to fame in 2002 as the winner of the inaugural season of “American Idol.” She has had over 100 #1 Billboard singles and total worldwide sales of more than 25 million albums and 36 million singles. She has released eight studio albums, one greatest hits album and two children’s books.

    Multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves received mass critical acclaim and recognition with the 2013 release of her Gold-certified album Same Trailer Different Park, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. Her follow-up album, Pageant Material, was released in 2015, earning her a second #1 debut on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and soaring to #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. Musgraves is currently working on her highly-anticipated third album and will be joining Little Big Town and Harry Styles on tour next year.

    Multi-Platinum-selling country vocalist Kane Brown burst onto the music scene with the release of his chart-topping, Gold-certified debut album, Kane Brown, less than a year ago. After debuting at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, the iTunes Country chart and iTunes all-genre chart upon its release last December, Brown released Kane Brown, Deluxe Edition, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country chart and #5 on the Billboard 200 chart. Brown is the only artist in history to simultaneously top all five Billboard Country charts and is the best-selling new country artist of the past three years. The ACM New Male Vocalist nominee recently released his new single, “Heaven,” which is the follow-up single to his record-breaking #1, Platinum-selling single “What Ifs.”

    Dennis Family (Norfolk, Va.)
    Reporter Staci Dennis had been working on a story about a child who had aged out of foster care, and said, “That experience had an impact on both my husband and I, and we chose to adopt a hard-to-place foster child at risk of aging out.” In 2013 Staci and her husband Eric found Kylie’s photo on an adoption web site. “Kylie was considered almost un-adoptable,” Staci said. “She had lived in fear and chaos for 13 years and we wanted to give her the opportunity to see who she really was.” “I was born into foster care,” Kylie said. “Foster homes, group homes and institutional facilities – I was moved through them all. My life was about survival. I ran away four times. By 12, I’d been placed on 14 prescription pills a day. I didn’t think I had a future.” Today, Kylie is on her school track and field team, plays volleyball and is a great sister to 17-year-old Angie, who joined the Dennis family this summer. “It turns out that I didn’t need any of those prescription drugs. All I needed was to be nurtured,” said Kylie.

    Fisher Family (Salt Lake City, Utah)
    Jen and Jeff Fisher were the proud parents of two children when they found three remarkable kids in a heartbreaking situation. “I met Tannah and her little brother Teagun while I was working for a drug rehab facility where they would visit their biological mother, who was my client,” said Jen. “When I was little, our parents did drugs, and I never knew who they were going to be. I was super scared because no one was ever there for us,” said Tannah. “One day, their biological mother called me and asked me to take her newborn, who was severely drug-addicted and now in state custody,” said Jen. Not only did the Fishers embrace the infant, Tallie, but they soon welcomed Tannah and her little brother into their family after the kids were placed in foster care. “I am so happy and grateful. We are finally safe, and Tallie will never have to live like my little brother and I did,” said Tannah.

    Thompson Family (Poteau, Okla.)
    Officer Jody Thompson and his wife, Jeannie, had two sons before a 9-1-1 child abuse call changed their family’s life forever. “When the call came out, I prepared for the worst and prayed for the best,” said Officer Thompson. When he arrived on the scene, he found John, an 8-year-old boy who had been starved, had his wrists bound, and was left submerged in a trash can of ice water with the lid attached. The child’s body was covered in abrasions. “I just looked at him and thought, ‘Man, you are an incredibly brave boy.’” Thompson continued. “I was so happy that Jody stayed with me at the hospital that night. I knew he would protect me,” said John. “The next morning I knew the only way I would feel that John was safe was if he was with me,” said Officer Thompson. When the Thompsons learned that John’s biological sister had been born in prison, they adopted her too. Today, the Thompson kids are thriving and John is a straight-A honor roll student. “I decided to share my story because I don’t want other kids to suffer like I did,” said John. “If you see something, please say something. Kids just want to feel safe – and now we are!”

    Black Family (Rochester, N.Y.)
    Veronica Black was a successful single mom when she decided to adopt from foster care. “I came from a big family,” said Black. “I wanted my 6-year-old son, Styles, to grow up with siblings.” In 2007 she adopted 7-year-old Lennon, who had been placed in foster care as an infant. Over the years, his siblings had been adopted, but Lennon was left alone. “When I was little, I had a ‘list of wishes’ and I never gave up hope that one day some would come true… then I met my mom and they all came true,” said Lennon. Six years later, Black adopted brothers – 7-year-old Ian and 5-year-old Jaubert, who had been living in separate foster homes and had been part of a horrific child abuse case. Today, Black’s four sons are thriving in school and active in lacrosse, football and the school wrestling team. “Today my boys are truly happy kids, and watching them grow up is such a blessing,” said Black.

    Children Waiting
    Currently, there are more than 420,000 children in foster care in the United States. The inspirational “Children Waiting” segment gives voice to these forgotten children by creating an intimate portrait of their hopes, their dreams and their wish for a “forever family.”

    The special is presented in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network.

    Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, who was adopted, established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992. It is dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of children in North America’s foster care system.

    The Children’s Action Network was founded in 1990 by leaders in the entertainment industry in order to harness the power of the entertainment media on behalf of children. The special is a part of CAN’s National Adoption Campaign to raise awareness of the joys of adopting and to find homes for the children who are waiting.

    The 19th annual A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is produced by Triage Entertainment and Goldsmith Entertainment. Karen Mack, Stu Schreiberg, Stephen Kroopnick and Marilyn Seabury are the executive producers. Kelly Brock is the producer, Kimberly Steer is the supervising producer and Mary Donaldson is the coordinating producer. Mike Simon is directing the special.

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