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Family matters

Nonprofit that matches older orphaned kids with parents holds event in La Cañada.

August 04, 2010|Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Memorial Park's function as a meeting place was the same on Saturday, but on a deeper level.

Kidsave, a nonprofit organization based out of Culver City, chose La Cañada as the site for a weekend event where older orphaned and abandoned children could form lifelong connections with families.

"The goal of these events is to engage the families and the kids," said Lauren Reicher-Gordon, Kidsave's vice president and director of their Family Visit Program. "We do activities the families can do with them instead of just observing them."

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On the surface, it's all fun and games, as adults and kids teamed up for three-legged races, water-balloon tosses and a watermelon-eating contest. Looking deeper, the ultimate goal of the event was to form bonds that would hopefully lead to adoption.

The event was arranged by Mimi Spindle, a senior at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and a Girl Scout, as part of her Gold Award project, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

"Part of the Girl Scouts' motto is making the world a better place," said Hilary Gregg, Spindle's Girl Scout co-leader. "I really think [Spindle] lives by that. Everything she does aims to help others. In her heart, she really wants to make the world a better place."

Kidsave's mission is to move older children out of orphanages or foster homes and into families.

"We have 500 kids in the Department of Children Family Services who need permanent families, and we need to find innovative ways to find homes for our kids," said Sari Grant, recruitment administrator for the Los Angeles Courts. "Kidsave has proven to be one of the most effective ways to do that."

Older kids are the focus of Kidsave because they are generally overlooked in the adoption process.

"Most people who are adopting want babies, and this gives the people in the community an opportunity to meet the kids," Reicher-Gordon said. "Most people don't think about the older kids because they aren't exposed to them."

Once people meet a teenager looking for a home, their perspective changes, Reicher-Gordon said.

"They are really behind closed doors, and nobody is thinking about them," she said. "We don't believe it's OK for kids to grow up without parents."

Two Kidsave programs were highlighted Saturday, Weekend and Summer Miracles.

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