George Agovino and Josh Gaulden have launched a new initiative aimed at helping foster children.
The pair has established the Fostering Change Foster Closet, in what was formerly a vacant house, at 10207 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes.
The 501 (c)(3) nonprofit is a hub for foster families to pick out free necessities that they otherwise could not afford.
It also will serve foster kids who have not been placed in a permanent home yet.
The new organization will officially open its doors, with an event called “Reconstructing Hope,” on Dec. 14.
Agovino said the point of the organization is to convey a sense of caring for children in foster care.
“Our goal is: We’re going to make them feel that they can come in, they can go shopping,” Agovino said. “Just by having this, you realize how many people care.”
The house, which had not been maintained recently, has undergone renovations in preparation for becoming the Fostering Change Foster Closet.
Multiple rooms have been turned into a free store, which are stocked with baby supplies, clothing, shoes, hygiene products, books and toys.
There’s also a new shed and several trailers, too, where supplies will be stored, as needed. A washer and dryer also will be installed.
Local companies have provided free help to reconstruct the building’s interior and exterior.
Those services included a new roof from 1st Choice Roofing.
Kenneth Phillips, the company’s team member, said that it donates its time and service for worthy projects.
“We instantaneously made them the recipient of our donation for the year and saw that there was a lot more need, and what a good cause it was,” he said.
The house also has new floor tiles, sheetrock and plumbing.
Students from Sunlake and Land O’ Lakes high schools donated their time to organize clothes and put up shelves.
The outdoor walls have been painted blue – the signature color for foster care awareness.
Agovino’s wife, Jennifer, and daughter Catherine-Christina, also helped to paint the organization’s logo on the front exterior wall.
Plans also call for transforming the front yard into a playground for kids to enjoy, Agovino said.
This service will not be exclusive to foster families in Pasco County, but will be open to other counties, as well.
As a retired law enforcement officer and a foster parent himself, Agovino understands the process that foster children face within the court system.
He was motivated to provide a donation drive to help those kids still in the system or those placed in a home, but still lacking basic needs.
Although the idea was set, there wasn’t a place to provide the service.
Initially, Gaulden helped Agovino get permission to place his trailer on the property where the organization is now located.
Initially, however, the men did not realize there was a vacant house on the land. It had been hidden by thick brush.
Frank and Joann Hedogous, the property owners, decided to donate the house and property for the organization’s cause.
It has taken several months to clear out the bushes, grass and tree branches overhanging the house and to complete renovations.
Gaulden and Agovino now are working to create an official website for Fostering Change Foster Closet.
The organization also is raising its profile through Facebook and by word-of- mouth.
It wants foster families to be aware of the service, and it wants to encourage the general public to get involved through donations.
The grand opening celebration is set for Dec. 14, at the house, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The public is welcome and there is no admission charge.
There will be vendors, food trucks, live music, raffles and a silent auction.
Kids can enjoy a petting zoo and various games. And foster kids, specifically, will be given toys as early Christmas gifts.
When: Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: 10207 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes
Details: Fostering Change Foster Closet welcomes the public to celebrate the donation drive’s grand opening.
Info: Call (813) 421-1958, or email .
Published December 11, 2019