The 15th Annual F.O.S.T.E.R. Back 2 Skool Bash will be held on Saturday, Aug. 12, from noon to 4 p.m. at Penn Park. The party will also feature Ju-Ju’s 3rd Annual Block Party and Street Ball tournament.
Jackie Hunt, founder and CEO of Families Overcoming Struggles to Encourage Restoration [F.O.S.T.E.R.], talked with Madison365 about how her tight-knit family has come together to create these series of events at Penn Park and what she’s looking forward to as a sports fan. Ju-Ju’s Block Party will be hosted by her son, Julian Walters.
“In my family, none of us exist without the other, whatever we have going on individually, or collectively, we’re all in,” Hunt said. “The first year I still did my Back to Skool Bash, but Julian did his block party. We were tired as heck after two events like that back to back. He wanted to do it on his own and get his name out in the community, because he was doing well in his business. We wanted to give back. He remembered that [Johnny Winston’s annual streetball and] block party as a staple event that I took him to as a child.”
Walters is responsible for creating the streetball tournament and his own block party in collaboration with his mom for her organization. He has always had a love for basketball and wanted to recreate something for the community that he thought was lacking.
F.O.S.T.E.R. has been hosting back-to-school events for the last 15 years because Hunt understands the struggles of preparing children for the school year. As a single mom of seven children, she wants to continue using her platform and resources, including access to dentistry and optometry support. Her goal with this celebration is to support other single parents and families in preparing themselves and their children for the upcoming school year.
“The Back to Skool Bash isn’t just about giving kids free backpacks or free clothes or pretty shoes,” she added. “We really want to support parents as they are preparing to send their children back to school and when I prepare them and give them some tips, some things that they can do to help them that should just transition from summer back into school mode … help them understand and support them as parents and what they feel that their children need from the school’s children to be successful.”
The block party will provide free food, activities, backpacks, school supplies and clothing to participants. Hunt and her family have worked diligently to ensure that the event will be a safe and community space for all those in attendance.
“It’s a very welcoming environment and also co-serves as a big community therapy session,” she added. “People comfort each other, they share their issues and problems, they share resources with each other. It decreases that social isolation that people might have as it relates to needing additional resources.”
Hunt added that they are still looking for volunteers to help support the day’s activities. For those interested, email [email protected] for more information. They are also accepting donations and any other support from community members.
“We still are taking donations, and we appreciate anything,” Hunt said. “We have partnered with Second Peace, who will be providing food to all the kids in the park that day. We got activities, games and face painting. Again, plenty of resources for parents and we got some raffle items we’ll be raffling off. I’m excited about the basketball tournament myself because I love sports. I’m just looking forward to a great day. I’m gonna pray for a good day and good weather, and that everything goes well.”