By BROOKE WANSER
Franklin-based nonprofit organization S.A.F.E. is hosting the third annual Fork & Vine dinner on Saturday evening at Gratitude Ranch in Leiper’s Fork.
S.A.F.E., which stands for Safe, Affirming, Family Environment, is nonprofit which offers resources to the Middle Tennessee community for foster families, children, and homeless youth.
S.A.F.E. founder Jason Warner said Saturday’s event will seek to raise awareness about the specific challenges facing foster children as they age out of foster care.
“A majority of youth attributed being homeless to aging out of foster care,” Warner said of what he says is the biggest challenge.
According to Warner, Williamson County has 80 children in state care, meaning they were taken from their parents due to neglect or abuse. Yet only 23 private homes in the county are certified for foster care.
Teenaged foster children are especially vulnerable. “It’s not just that people don’t want to foster or adopt them,” Warner said. “A lot of these kids have behavioral issues and needs counseling.”
Teens who are able to receive extended foster care, up to age 22, can benefit from free college programs and free health insurance.
Funds from the event will go to S.A.F.E.’s newly launched program, a transitional living day camp on the ranch where kids learn life skill training and how to set benchmarks for future success.
“The biggest success was that the staff saw such a huge shift in the kids after a one day camp retreat,” Warner said.
Warner, who also owns the ranch, said it was a “no-brainer” to use the property for a charity affair. He said it’s the first year the event involves a true dinner; the past two years, they served hor d’oeuvres and wine.
The 200-seat farm-to-table dinner with wine and dessert will be prepared by several different Williamson County restaurateurs, who have donated food and services to the event. California-based singer and songwriter Randi Driscoll will be the guest performer, and the evening will include a live auction.
Though tickets are now sold out, the event cost $120 per person.