Kim and Mark Nunemaker started taking in foster children in March 2011 and said they’ve had about 30 children pass through their house since they began.
They were chosen in May to receive the award.
“It is really hard, we try to treat every child like our own,” Kim Nunemaker said. “It is hard to see them go; we’ve been lucky in that most of our kids have gone to relatives.”
The Director of Cherokee County Division of Family and Children Services, Charity Kemp, said the family is always quick to answer their phone and always accepts children if they can.
“When they greet kids at the door, they do so with a smile, and soon after, a warm bath, clean clothes, soft blankets and a hot meal,” Kemp said. “They stay involved as a support system with most of their children after they leave their home, which also provides additional support for the biological parents.”
Kemp said the family has been an amazing example of working in cooperation with birth families, which helps maintain those important relationships and connections.
“They routinely send pictures and updates by email to birth parents to help them stay aware of what their children are doing, to let them know that they are safe and they are being cared for,” Kemp said. “A birth mother recently told DFCS staff that they appreciated this foster mother so much because ‘she allowed her to be a mother.’”
Nunemaker said that she and her husband try hard to work with their foster children’s biological parents because it helps both the children and their parents.
“Every child is such a blessing and offers a new perspective for us. They’re all blessings. I have been very blessed by a lot of these parents that I’ve tried to support and encourage, and I’ve been blessed by their reactions,” Nunemaker said. “I’ve had so many come up to me and say ‘Thank you for taking care of my child,’ and that’s been a real blessing to me.”
Nunemaker said she had volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children, and felt called to be more involved with helping the children. Nunemaker said she and her husband prayed about it and decided to start fostering children in 2011.
Kemp said the Nunemaker family is “a shining example” of what a foster family should be, and said they were selected for the award by “an overwhelming number of votes.”
“They are always willing to help and they open their homes with loving arms and kind hearts,” Kemp said. “They make the kids feel loved, safe and accepted.”
Nunemaker said she thinks the most important thing to give the children is a feeling of safety.
“A lot of them haven’t had regular meals,” she said. “I’ve had (so many kids) just open my pantry and look at it several times a day because they just can’t believe there’s food in there. I think knowing that you have that, knowing that you’re clean…just that feeling of safety and security and routine…that they thrive on.”
Nunemaker said the entire family helps to let their foster children know they are part of the family, and said the foster children even go on vacations with them. She said “that’s what you do when they’re part of the family.”
Nunemaker said her two children, 12-year old Adam and 8-year-old Noah, are great with the other children and help out all the time. Nunemaker said she is so happy about how her children have embraced the foster children and about how much they help.
“They help so much,” she said. “They’ve really embraced this, it’s been kind of shocking to see, they open up their rooms and their toys, and they share and they help, they’ve really accepted this.”
Kemp said Cherokee County DFCS was lucky to have the Nunemaker’s as a foster family and said she is grateful for all that they do.