Stories to Inspire

Meet 2017 KIK Picnic’s angel donor!

A Facebook video about foster children having to transport all their possessions in black garbage bags when they move to a new home was all it took to spur Tara Silnyjova into giving back to the foster care system and the KIK Picnic.

“I just stumbled on this video and it moved me to tears,” Silnyjova says.

Silnyjova was so stirred by the video [which was actually filmed in the United States] that shortly after viewing it this past spring, she called Winnipeg Child and Family Services to see if there was any way she could donate some backpacks for children.

Upon finding out that there was a program already organized in Canada by the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Ted and Loretta Rogers Foster Care Transition Program, which provides backpacks for foster children, she asked if there was any other way she could help.
And that’s where her relationship with this year’s KIK [Kids in Kare] Picnic began. Silnyjova was put in touch with Monica Raabe, the co-ordinator for Volunteer Connections of Winnipeg CFS.

Raabe told her that the KIK Picnic, an annual fun event at the Forks for foster children and their families, was in need of bicycles for the bicycle raffle, so Silnyjova happily obliged, providing four bikes (two toddler bikes, one school-aged bike and one large enough for a teenager), along with helmets, for various aged children at the picnic.

She also donated 50 baby sleepers and numerous receiving blankets for layettes for babies who come into foster care at Winnipeg CFS—the total coming to almost $1,000.

“We’re still shaking our heads at the selfless donation,” says Raabe.

Silnyjova is a retired member of the military who was injured while on duty and is now on permanent disability, raising her one-year-old daughter, Joie. She says when she found out she would be receiving a lump sum payment from the military, she decided to use part of it to donate to CFS.

“Honestly I was just really praying for a specific amount to pay for a specific debt and it ended up being more than that, so I just felt like, I’m going to do this.

“They have a need, and I have some money so let’s just get this done.”

But there is another reason why adoption and foster care is close to Silnyjova’s heart. A number of years ago, she had tried to adopt her great nephew, who was living in Ontario.

However, it didn’t work out and he was instead adopted by his foster parents.

Because of that experience, Silnyjova says she is a great supporter of adoption and fostering and wants to help out any way she can.

“My fiancé has two adopted sisters, my best friend is adopted, I have adopted cousins—it’s near and dear to my heart.”

She adds, “I truly never understood that people have this concept that adopting isn’t a way to make a family. It’s just as real a way to make a family. Kids need these families just as we need them.”

After dropping off their donation at Winnipeg CFS, Silnyjova and her daughter, along with her 11-year-old stepson, attended their very first KIK picnic this year, on June 15, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

She was able to see up close what winning a bicycle meant to a young foster child.

“If there is a situation where someone can be helped, I want to make sure I can do everything I can,” Silnyjova says.

KIK organizers Rabbe and Debbie Smith were thrilled with Silnyjova’s generosity.

“She has an amazing heart and spirit,” Raabe says.