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PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Monday, foster parents throughout Jefferson County were recognized during the annual Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner at the Punxsutawney Country Club.
Foster parents, board members and local dignitaries all gathered to honor the dedication and care that foster parents provide to youngsters.
The event, hosted by the Jefferson County Children & Youth Services (CYS) Advisory Board, is held in May every year as part of Foster Parent Appreciation Month.
As part of the festivities, Ken Dworek, Brookville chief of police and CYS Advisory Board member, presented the awards to the Foster Parents of the Year, this time going to two sets of parents instead of one.
The winners of the awards were Lou and Cheri Kerr, six-year foster parents, of Reynoldsville, and Bill and Lori Adamson, 12-year foster parents, of DuBois.
â€śIt was a big surprise but it was a nice thing,â€ť Lou Kerr said. â€śIf a kid has a special day, he should be special, and he should be treated a little special, and that red plate (the prize) will make a heck of a difference to a lot of kids just to have that,â€ť he said.
For the past six years, the Adamsons have served as foster parents with Jefferson Countyâ€™s CYS, and have served more than 30 children over 12 years. They started out as therapeutic foster parents, then became regular foster parents.
â€śIt was a complete surprise,â€ť Bill Adamson said. â€śI wasnâ€™t expecting something like that. It was very nice.â€ť
â€śIt really makes you feel appreciated,â€ť Lori Adamson added.
After the meal, Advisory Board Chairperson Mary Ann Kernich spoke about the hard work and sacrifices that foster parents make every day.
â€śFoster parents are the lifelines of the child welfare system,â€ť she said. â€śYou (foster parents) are called on to care
for some of the neediest children in our county.â€ť
Debra Decker, advisory board member, introduced Dr. Allen Ryen, a psychologist with a private practice in DuBois who has helped children and their families for more than 30 years.
Ryen spoke of the â€śevolutionâ€ť he has seen from foster parents over the years. When he first began working with foster parents, the screening program to become one was not as strict as is it today, he said.
He also said todayâ€™s foster parents are much better equipped and more committed than when he started working with them.
â€śFoster parents have changed from decent folks to decent highly-trained folks,â€ť Ryen said.
He also spoke of the impact that foster parents make on the children under their care.
â€śAll of us are helping to change kidsâ€™ lives that didnâ€™t have a snowballâ€™s chance,â€ť Ryen said.
Kernich also discussed the dignified nature possessed by most foster parents.
â€śWe know that many times, you are the glue that holds things together for these children during what is perhaps the most traumatic time of their lives,â€ť she said. â€śYou are usually not known throughout our community for the good deeds you perform, nor do you boast about yourselves, but go on humbly serving the least among us.â€ť
Dworek also presented certificates, checks and flowers donated by Rosemanâ€™s Florist & Gifts, to the foster parents present at the dinner.
Anyone who would like more information about becoming a foster parent can contact the Children & Youth Service of Jefferson County at 814-849-1550.