Fostering Better Lives: Part Two

By KBJR News 1

April 27, 2011 Updated Apr 27, 2011 at 9:03 PM CST

Barnum, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Troubled kids often need counseling. Sometimes they need strict discipline and sometimes they even need incarceration. But, the experts say what most of these kids really need is a place where they can feel safe, valued and respected.

That's exactly what a Barnum couple is providing for troubled boys in Northern Minnesota.

For more then two decades, the Hassett family has served as role models for teen boys with severe emotional disturbance and criminal behavior.

They not only open their doors, but also their hearts.

"We operate like a family," said Kim. "I treat the young men that live here like I would my own children,"

Mark and Kim strive to work on independent living skills with the young men to get them back on their feet. Through two decades, the Hassets have helped 60 boys between the ages of 12 and 18.

"We try to get them drivers license if they're able to," said Kim. "We try to teach them, how to, respect others and (about) chemical issues."

It's hard work that Mark says often has little reward in the beginning.

"The immediate satisfaction, you don't get any. You're working with these individuals and sometimes there is none. You're modeling for them, giving them a safe environment."

That safe environment won them state-wide attention last year when they were named MSSA Foster Parents of the Year for the State of Minnesota.

They're quick to tell you they don't deserve all the credit.

The Hassetts work very closely with social workers, probation officers and PATH inc.

"We identify what the goals are, whatever area it's in, we work within the realms of the goals, we try to achieve that, so they get out, they work on their weaknesses," Mark said.

Mark and Kim stress they teach life skills while working together as a family.

"We try to involve them," said Kim. "One of the activities we like to do as a family, do 5K runs and walks, we bring the boys with us. They are just part of the family."

Kim says they're not trying to replace these boys' birth families; they are just providing a place where kids can grow.

The Hassetts currently have four kids in foster care. Kim currently serves as the PATH Minnesota, Inc. Board Treasurer and has served on the board since September 2003.

Thursday night (4/28) at ten, Kevin introduces us to a family on the Fond Du Lac Reservation helping foster better lives.

Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen
kjacobsen@northlandsnewscenter.com