Pennsylvania Farm Show Offers Both Reunion and Resources
Penny Stiles and Jennifer Casner-Hockenberry from the SWAN prime contractor man the SWAN booth with SWAN affiliate Bethanna staff, Chris Walter and Marci Glowaski.
When Jennifer Casner-Hockenberry, project manager for the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE), reflected on the 2023 Pennsylvania Farm Show, her most lasting impression was connecting with both individuals interested in adoption as well as families who formed through adoption. This is Jen’s 14th year coordinating SWAN’s booth, which is designed to promote adoption and raise foster care awareness. “We met some incredible SWAN families, experienced some genuine connections with visitors, and walked away with some potential resources for our waiting children,” she reported afterward.
SWAN experienced a record number of volunteers and visitors at its booth this year. According to tallies, we handed out just shy of 1,000 rubber duckies to children (and some convincing adults) and spoke to more than 800 families about foster care and adoption. The Farm Show took place from Saturday, January 7th through Saturday, January 14th.
For the SWAN prime contract and affiliate staff who man the booth throughout the week, it’s a heartwarming opportunity to reconnect with adoptive families who were previously served by SWAN. Families—many of whom were featured on the SWAN Facebook page throughout the week—stop by to say simply to say “hello” and share about what they have been up to since they adopted. Others come seeking information on additional services to help them on their adoption journey. “It’s a great reminder of the ongoing support the network provides to resource families,” Jen says.
On the last Saturday of the show, as Jen and PAE Coordinator Alfredo Gonzalez were wrapping up what was a VERY busy week, one mother stopped by with her nearly two-year-old foster son. “He stood in front of me and said, ‘Up, please,’” Jen said. “He was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. He just wanted to hand out hugs. Alfredo turned to me and said, ‘this is why we do what we do.’” Absolutely, Alfredo!