Divine Nest, a Lincoln County ministry that supports foster and adoptive families, are getting some fast-paced publicity as a driver and racetrack work to spread awareness for its mission.
On July 12, Tri City Speedway will open its doors for free to 150 people involved with foster and adoptive care. Kids will be able to help with the opening ceremonies, get autographs from drivers, enjoy a bounce house and get to visit victory lane after the races as well. The speedway features a dirt track, and hosts races every Friday.
“It’s really fun! Its super loud, they go so fast, dirt’s flying everywhere, and it’s super exciting,” said Heather Picker, executive director of Divine Nest.
Tri City Racetrack owners Kevin and Tammy Gundaker were inspired to host the event after learning that a regular racer, Jeff Yates, was dedicating this entire racing season to raising money and bringing awareness to Divine Nest. Yates took a year off from being sponsored by Troy’s Bellman Auto so he could wrap his racecar in a Divine Nest decal. He has also made a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of the racing season in October by selling racing t-shirts and Divine Nest ducks. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go back to Divine Nest, and anyone who purchases a duck or t-shirt can autograph the Divine Nest racecar and “be a part of the racingteam,” as Yates says.
“We have over 300 autographed signatures on the race car currently,” Jeff Yates said. “So it’s really neat to see all the kids sign the race car and they get to climb in it and everything like that, so it’s a lot of fun for the kiddos as well.” Yates will not be racing on July 12, so the race car will be on display during the event as well for kids to explore and people to place their signature on. Besides hosting the “Divine Nest Night at the Races” event, the Tri City Speedway has been talking about Divine Nest over the PA system during their weekly races, and have allowed Divine Nest to set up a tent to sell their trademark stuffed animal duck as well as t-shirts during larger racing events throughout the summer till the end of the season.
“I think a lot of people want to help, and a lot of people are interested in foster care or even adoption, but they don’t know where to turn and they don’t know how to get plugged in,” Yates said. “So I thought if I could kinda spread the word out by wrapping my race car and talking about it, be kinda a spokesperson for them and try to get the word out about what they do.”
Yates has been racing for the past 10 years as a hobby, and has been all over the Midwest to different tracks to compete. This season, wherever he goes to race, he’ll be able to spread awareness or at least curiosity about the ministry.
Divine Nest is a non-profit organization that works with families who foster or adopt throughout Lincoln and Pike counties.
They serve these families by offering educational classes for parents on how to help kids with traumatic pasts, and they also have a “first night” bag that has everything a child would need for their first night in a new home, like a toothbrush and PJs. Volunteers drop the bags off on the families door step, relieving the stress of having to make a potential Walmart run during what can be a hectic night for the foster parents and the child.
Yates found out about Divine Nest through his church, Northroad, and then he and his wife learned more about and benefited from them as they went through the foster and adoption process themselves.
“They’re such a valuable resource for people in foster care, or foster parents, or simply people wanting to get into fostering,” Yates said. “So I figured if I could put their name on the car and do a benefit, try to raise money for their first night bags and help fund the classes and all the things they do.”
Families can sign up for the event by visiting Divinenest.com, going to the events tab, and clicking on the “Divine Nest Night at the Races” button, or they can visit the Divine Nest Facebook page and register from there.