Youth farm to raise kids |

Youth farm to raise kids

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Ken Kriz is planning a foster care program which will be run on his 31-acre ranch in Rifle.

A long-held dream is moving toward reality for a Glenwood Springs businessman.Ken Kriz has dreamed about building a home for troubled kids in the valley. When his brother, Don, died in 2003, he decided to make the dream a reality.The brothers bought property near Rifle in 1977, Ken explained, for their Mountain Mobile Mix company. When they sold the business in 1982, they kept 30 acres.

Both Don and Ken were longtime supporters of the Kiss-a-Pig fund-raiser, which helps fund YouthZone. Along with Sopris Restaurant owner Kurt Wigger, they backed prospective pig-kissers and raised tens of thousands of dollars for YouthZone.Ken said he decided to build a home for troubled kids on the Rifle property when Don got sick: “I thought it would be a good place to establish a home for foster kids.”His idea was to have a place where kids could raise animals.”Most kids will accept the responsibility for caring for them. It gives them something to look forward to and hopefully will divert them from drugs,” he said. “The idea is to try to have something for kids to do after school to keep them out of trouble.”Kriz invited a group of community professionals to help him launch the Don Kriz Youth Farm. He’s built a seven-bedroom, five-bath home on the property.foster: see page A2foster: from page 1

Now he and the board of directors for the farm are looking for the right couple to act as foster parents for about four boys, ages 6 to 18. The boys will attend public school in Rifle.The couple will live in the home rent-free but will have to pay utilities and cover living expenses, said board chairwoman Mary Ezequelle. The couple will be licensed through the Garfield County Department of Social Services and will also receive about $500 a month for each foster child.The board also expects at least one parent will work out of the home. It would like to have one parent stay at home, “but it’s not a necessity.”Ezequelle said the board hopes DSS will place kids from Garfield County. But before anything happens, It needs foster parents.”We’re trying to get parents who have a realistic idea about being foster parents,” she said. Kids with emotional or substance abuse problems can be difficult, Ezequelle said.”The truth is we work with them all the time, and it’s not a problem if you know what you’re doing,” she said. “It’s not an easy job, and it’s not well-paid.”

Attitude is also important. They would like “someone who is open to various ethnic and religious groups, who is open to children of various backgrounds. They need to be somewhat structured, caring, resilient. Superparents with high expectations would not make it in a job like this,” she said.”We want to provide a village approach to raising kids; we hope to find parents who will commit for a couple of years,” said board member Nicole Pray. “We want to get everyone involved. We want to be community connected.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.comFor more information about the foster care program or to apply as a foster care parent, call Mary Ezequelle, 948-2877.

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