The bond between siblings is unique and can last a lifetime. However, making sure they stay together when entering into foster care can be a challenge. Kirkland-based charity Sibling House and its founders, Michael and Lynne Gaskill, are dedicated to making sure brothers and sisters stay together. An auction this month will give Kirkland residents the opportunity to lend their support to the cause.
The Gaskills became aware of the issue 25 years ago when they became foster parents for the first time.
“It broke our hearts that young kids were being separated from the only familiar thing in their lives when they were placed in separate homes,” Michael Gaskill said.
The Gaskills began taking in siblings together — but it wasn’t easy. Those experiences helped them understand the challenges of taking in multiple kids at one time. It also sparked the idea for Sibling House, an organization they run out of their Kirkland home, where families can get extra support.
“Knowing that something we did may have altered the direction of a child’s life for the better and having faith that it did, is our ‘paycheck’,” Michael Gaskill said. “… Being able to do it together is icing on the cake. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but these kids, and their caregivers, deserve it.”
Kirkland residents can also help foster siblings in need during the Sibling House’s 15th annual fundraiser auction at 6 p.m. on March 11 at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle. This year’s event is titled “Mission Possible” and will be hosted by radio and TV personality Pat Cashman.
“We first heard Pat speak at a foster parent convention many years ago in Ocean Shores,” Michael Gaskill said. “We were impressed.”
Gaskill said that this is the fourth year that Cashman has contracted for the event.
“Great guy,” Michael Gaskill said. “(He) even agreed to a lower cost because he believes in Sibling House and our mission so much. He does a great job and makes himself available even during the planning stage.”
The event will include guest speakers, appetizers, a no-host bar, a silent auction, “Best of Live Raffle,” wine pull, photo opportunities, dinner with a live auction and more. The night will begin with a social hour from 6-7 p.m.
The auction accounts for 75 percent of the organization’s funding and has a goal of $75,000 this year. Sibling House has provided support to 310 homes and 858 children since 2006.
“Some of those homes only needed help a few times, some on a regular basis,” Michael Gaskill said. “… We also alert our network when other resources become available like zoo tickets, Storybook Theater, clothes, baby supplies and many other things people don’t realize are part of daily needs when raising a child.”
Sibling House provides several events during the year to help the families, such as a visit from Santa and toy drive for Christmas, a Fourth of July barbecue and a reading from a children’s book author. Michael Gaskill said that a recent government study concluded that it costs more than $1,147 a month to raise a child in the United States.
“Typical support payouts from the government each month are less than 50 percent of that (for foster children),” he said. “The additional expenses and needs have to come from somewhere.”
Registration for the auction is online at www.siblinghouse.org/auction-rsvp and those planning to attend must RSVP by March 7.