Ennis Center founder honored with parade for helping foster children

Take a look at how you can become a foster parent to the nearly 100 mid-Michigan kids in need of a temporary home.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:11 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (5/14/2021) - About 100 kids across mid-Michigan are in need of foster parents. These are kids who have endured the unthinkable, including abuse and neglect.

To mark Foster Care Awareness Month, ABC12 spoke one-on-one with the man who’s dedicated his life to supporting these young kids.

The Ennis Center for Children is the lifeline for kids across southeast Michigan from Saginaw to Monroe. Bob Ennis is the founder and president.

While their case plays out in the courts, he explained the Ennis Center connects the children with a foster parent.

“To rehabilitate them, to get them a home, if not home. And certainly, into a permanent forever home through adoption if the courts terminate the rights,” said Ennis.

Right now, he shared they’re working with more than 400 foster parents and are always in need of more.

“They’re certainly going to test them,” Ennis said. “So they’re underpaid, overworked and frontline workers, you bet.”

But he said, it is rewarding work that the Ennis Center will hold the foster parent’s hand through.

Ennis created the Center 43 years ago, after spending 10 years with the state health department. It’s since grown to 7 locations in our state.

“Sounds corny, but it’s, it’s my ministry,” Ennis said.

He was one of them. Ennis became a foster child at just 7-years-old. He shared he was fortunate his grandparents stepped up to raise him.

“It saved my life,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them teaching me how to love.”

He’s shared that love with the countless lives he’s touched in the last four decades.

To say “thank you” during Foster Care Awareness Month, his coworkers, community and law enforcement organized a parade of gratitude.

They sounded their sirens, decorated their cars and honked their horns driving past his home Friday afternoon.

“He makes sure that our foster parents get trained, he makes sure that our families match with the children and does everything possible to keep the kids safe,” participant Karen Resseguie said.

From three staff members to more than 200 in 43 years, Resseguie is one of the first.

She, like so many others who got in line today, said that they wouldn’t have been anywhere else.

“You don’t know how much it means. I’m just thankful and grateful,” Ennis said of the surprise.

Ennis doesn’t just oversee operations of the seven locations in our state. He’s also worked to change laws, helping get rid of red tape around becoming a foster parent.

Right now, he’s working to increase how much foster parents are paid a day, which is only $17.

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