Family models for foster care

The Cormier family of Enumclaw will be strutting down the runway in Seattle tonight, Wednesday, showing off the latest in fashion and raising money and awareness for foster families.

The Cormiers, a foster family of 18 – ranging in age from 2 to 15 – will turn into temporary models for the fashion show that is aiming to place foster childrens’ needs in the spotlight and put clothes in their closets.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Sharon Cormier, head of the family. Through the years the clan has participated in a number of events and promotions to help Treehouse continue its work. “They remember when they were in the system and want to give back. They’re very excited.”

Project Treehouse, playing off of the popular “Project Runway” television show, will feature local celebrities escorting 16 members of the Cormier family down the runway starting at 6 p.m. The Seattle event is aimed at raising awareness for Treehouse’s free Wearhouse store which serves nearly 3,000 kids a year.

For foster children, leaving home means losing everything, Treehouse representatives noted, clothing, toys, family photographs – and starting from scratch. For foster parents, it means trying to outfit a growing child with the $300 per year the state provides for clothing, less than half of what an average family spends. The Seattle-based Treehouse Wearhouse is a free store that fills the gap by allowing kids to shop several times a year for new and like-new clothing, shoes, school supplies, books, toys, bikes and other essentials that help them feel good and fit in.

“There are a lot of foster families out here that use them,” said Cormier, who volunteers weekly to help the organization and has banded together with other Plateau area foster families to put together clothing and school supply drives to help Treehouse.

“It’s not just a shopping place. It’s really a different organization,” Cormier added.

Since 1988, Treehouse has filled the gaps for kids in foster care, providing services that no other agency addresses: money for extra-curricular activities and summer camp, professional educational support services, resources to fully participate in the everyday activities of growing up, clothing and supplies to help them fit in at school.

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