It’s the time of year that people pull angels from Angel Trees at the mall, the grocery store, the library, and at church. Feeling good, they buy the gift requests. Goli Foutz took “Angels” from DePaul Services Foster Care and raised them in her home. She and her husband Lee have helped raise teens in the system since 1991. Over the period of years, 40 young people, some short term, others long term, came into her home. Her message is loud and clear, “Don’t be afraid to take an angel home with you!”
Initially, all girls came to her home. After she had her two sons, who are now teens, she started taking in boys. “They children stay a year or two until they reached the age of 18,” she said. Rene is a young woman from Franklin County who has a 9 year old. “I was here 14 and a half years ago. She changed me for the better. I was a handful, but Goli never gave up on me. She dealt with me. ” It isn’t always perfect, but one thing it is easy to see, Goli Foutz is a determined, friendly and loving person.
April Estrada from DePaul Services Foster Care said, “It doesn’t always work out. Goli is a success and one reason is she makes the effort to include the children in her family. Children come into a foster home with trust issues for one thing. Goli reaches out.”
Goli looked at Rene with great affection, they even look alike in many ways. “I loved my girls, all of them. I call them my daughters.” Goli’s sister Kobra who passed away a couple of years ago, lived with them and helped, too. She has also received plenty of support from her husband Lee and her in-laws Shirley and Billy Foutz as well.
A former foster care teen, Christie Johnson has four children, her youngest four month old Cashdon, came with her to see Goli. “She understood me, talked to me.” Johnson lives in Salem now, but is moving to Botetourt and will be just 10 minutes away. “You better come visit me!” Goli said with a laugh.
Indeed Johnson said, “She always took us everywhere, shopped with us, went on vacation. I didn’t have anyone to love or care for me. My own mother was so involved with my stepfather that she gave up on me. I wanted someone to love me and be there for me. Goli showed me how. I’m not the woman as a mother to my children that my mother was. I learned from Goli how to be a mother. That’s how I am to my four children that range in age from 10 , 8, 2 and 4 months.”
Michelle lives in Pulaski she left 8 years ago and is raising her son. She called to talk about her life. “My foster care family made me a better parent and a better person in life. I stayed with Goli an extra year and worked. I would bring home things from my job at Dollar General and that was for my little brothers at Goli’s house. I was part of the family. When we went to the beach I took care of them just like a biological sister. She was absolutely great and I am trying to follow in her footsteps.”
Michelle Bauttista lives in Roanoke, but called to tell her story in DePaul Foster Care and her experience with the Foutz Family. She only lived with Goli from age 17 to 18, but it made a world of difference in her life. “When I came it was my birthday. She didn’t know me, but had a cake, presents and made me feel special. She is very loving.” She instilled in Bautistta, ” Being strong and independent. She helped me realize I am worth something. She loved and kissed on me. She cared. I have four children and I am a better parent because of her and DePaul Services for caring about me.”
While pleased at hearing the girls remarks, Goli was adamant, “Please don’t believe this is about me. It is about all of the children who need foster care. They have trust issues. Young people need you. Yes, I have been nominated for an award last year for my foster parenting, but that is not it. These kids need to be shown what love and family really is. If you have a heart to do it, do it! Kids need the love and caring. We all need love. DePaul is great to work with, too.”
She continued, “I also want to mention something else. People need to know our school division has been extremely supportive of all the children we have sent to them. Read Mountain and Lord Botetourt have been especially great. I want to thank them for helping with every kid we have ever had here.”
Interested in being a foster parent? Contact Estrada at 540-265- 8923. ” We do home studies, provide classes for parenting foster children, including special needs children, provide 24 hour support. We need people who are not afraid of teenagers.”
Goli jumps in, ” Take the angel home, not just off the tree. You will be glad you did!