On Feb. 28, Nicole Feltz and her husband will be hosting a huge, open-to-the-public, family-friendly party complete with dinner, cupcakes, cotton candy, a photo booth, face painting, a DJ and much more. They know a thing or two about throwing a party; this will be the 11th Annual Feltz Family Midwinter Blues Fundraiser. Over the last decade, the event has grown from a party for 10 at their home to an expected crowd of 600 people at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kan. The event will benefit thousands of children who have experienced abuse or neglect, and are being supported in KVC foster families.
We caught up with Nicole to get the inside scoop on the fundraiser.
What motivated you to create this event?
I had a really rough childhood. I grew up in Kansas City, Kan. My mom was an alcoholic and I experienced abuse. For about a year, I lived in The Salvation Army Children’s Shelter in Kansas City, Mo. I was there by myself for a long time, but eventually, my brother came to live at the shelter too. I raised my brother. I remember carrying him around in my backpack and finding food stamps that we could take to the grocery store. I basically was the mom at a very young age.
So when my husband and I had our daughter Grace 11 years ago, it was an epiphany for me. We knew that we had to do something to help other children. Abused children are very close to my heart because I was that kid. I was in different foster homes. If anyone can understand what these kids are going through, it’s me. So we said, why are we sitting back doing nothing? We have to help. So we started this fundraiser in our home.
You also decided to become a foster parent yourself. Why?
We had talked about foster parenting for so long. What finally sparked us to do it was some terrible story in the news about someone putting a baby in a microwave. I said, this is just crazy, people should do something. And I remember my husband said, “You’re somebody.” And I knew he was right. I said, “I’m somebody who could change things.” We’ve now been fostering for four years. We’ve had 13 children in our home. It’s a long-term commitment and passion for us. We’ve got a home and a loving family – there’s just no reason not to.
Did any adults step in and make a positive difference in your young life?
Yes, when I was 10, we went to live with my brother’s biological family up north (we had different fathers). They ended up raising us, and were very June Cleaver-type people. It was the very opposite of what we had had, and it was a great experience. My childhood gave me a drive to not be the type of person or family that I came from. I felt motivated to get out and prove myself.
You now have your own business as an American Family Insurance broker. What led you to your career?
When we first became foster parents, I was working in the corporate world. I remember one time when we had three foster babies who were super sick. I told my boss that I needed to leave work a half hour early to get them to the doctor, and he rolled his eyes. I was making good money, but I realized that it wasn’t the life I was shooting for. I wanted to be happy and for me, that means taking care of children. So I decided to start my own business, keeping in the insurance industry. I love it, and it provides a lot of flexibility and helping families. My agency gets to give back as a company every month! We sponsor a nonprofit organization and talk to all our customers about it. American Family is very dedicated to helping families, chasing dreams and protecting them. It was a value, tradition and company I wanted to be a part of!
Why did you choose KVC as the beneficiary of this year’s event?
As a foster parent, I’ve been hearing some horrific things that kids are exposed to. Child abuse and neglect is happening in Kansas and right here in Johnson County. There are 574 Johnson County kids in foster care, and over 6,100 Kansas kids overall in foster care. People seem to be shutting their eyes to the terrible things happening to some kids. We want to bring some awareness to this issue and also get some funding behind helping parents learn to be better parents, providing parent/child interactive therapy, and supporting the new KVC interactive adoption center. I just love that. When children feel like they have someone fighting for them, it makes such a difference.
Is there a cost to the event?
It’s a free event! Of course it’s also a fundraiser, so there’s a huge silent auction with some amazing prizes donated by businesses. People can also make a donation or sign a pledge card. The goal is to give information about the needs of children in our community, tell them about how KVC is helping, and pray that people will either help out or talk to someone else who wants to get involved.
The event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 28, 5:00-9:00 pm, at the Ball Conference Center (21350 W. 153rd St., Olathe, KS 66061). Proceeds will benefit “Kansas City’s abandoned, abused and AMAZING kids through KVC.” Anyone is welcome to attend or sponsor the event. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or (913) 383-9100 by Feb. 20. Sponsored by Nicole L. Feltz Agency. If you cannot attend, please consider making a donation by clicking here.
Learn more about Nicole’s American Family Insurance agency here or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nicolefeltzagency. Nicole provides home, auto, life and business insurance. Her agency is based in Leawood, and she lives with her family in Overland Park.