Fostering success in Vail Valley
Vail, CO, Colorado
Dear John Fay: When I learned that your job was with the foster family agency of Eagle County, it brought happy memories back to me. Reading in the paper that there is still such a need makes me sad. But I am encouraged by also knowing what a wonderful experience it was for our family and I would like to encourage those families that are considering opening their hearts and homes to children in need.
Working as an aide to a special group of students at Battle Mountain High School in 1979, I formed several teacher and student friendships.
Over the school year and into the summer, I became very aware of the need to emotionally support and later physically support a particular 14-year-old girl named Jane.
Many cultural differences existed that made it hard for me to understand Jane’s family dynamics. As a family we had three children living in our home at the time, one a foreign exchange student, and our eldest son who was in college on the Front Range.
Regardless, we would do what was necessary to help Jane. We weren’t a wealthy family, but one with a great amount of compassion and desire to help give Jane a safe home.
It had to be a family decision. We all had to agree that this was going to be different and some days (Jane included), we wondered just how long it was going to work. Jane’s school work began to improve with our help, which made her happier. Certainly she missed her biological family, but she did spend time with them. This is why it’s so important for the children in need in Eagle County to be in safe homes in our county.
Jane was old enough to tell us details about her home life. She remained supportive of her biological siblings. They, of course, couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to and couldn’t live with them.
As time went on, Jane began to blossom. She was chosen as a flower girl for graduation her junior year. This was quite an honor for any girl, but for Jane it was monumental. Jane’s self-esteem soared.
During her sophomore year of high school Jane and her biological twin brother were selected No. 1 and No. 2 from 32 high schoolers across Colorado needing remedial help in school to attend a new program at the University of Colorado during the summer. The program was called Upward Bound. We all were in high hopes that with this honor and help for the next couple of years, Jane would be able to attend CU with lots of tutoring.
Jane attempted to live with her biological family a couple of times during the next couple of summers ,but after a few weeks she would inevitably come back to us. This was always with our approval and that of her caseworker.
After graduating from BMHS with all of our family in attendance ,as well as Jane’s biological family, Jane continued the CU Upward Bound program. After this Jane decided that she wanted to go to a vocational technology school in Denver. Jane was able to get scholarship and grant monies to achieve this goal.
During this time Jane was able to live independently, involved in a local literacy program to reach out to others, and was selected to head to Washington, D.C., to meet with then-first lady Barbara Bush. Jane was so proud of herself, and we were too!
After Jane completed her vocational technology degree, she soon became happily employed. Jane was successfully supporting herself and making new friends in her new life. To sum this all up, Jane has been married for 10 years and has a wonderful 6-year-old boy.
I know that had we not taken Jane into our home, her life would have turned out quite differently. Jane is spunky, dedicated to her husband and son, and an overall joy to be around.
What this one little 14-year-old girl gave to our family was priceless. The funny things that she would say, like she couldn’t understand why I was making her eat “little trees”; aka, broccoli. We all learned a lot from our time with Jane. We are all better people for having had her in our lives.
We see Jane fairly often now. She lives on the Front Range, so driving is always a problem but we both make it work. I would encourage anyone thinking of opening their home to a child, as we did, not to hesitate. The rewards are many.
Thank you, John, for the wonderful work you do for the children of Eagle County.
Wildfires have become more numerous, bigger and more destructive in the past 40 years. That’s a big deal in a town surrounded by public land.