A woman from Hayward, California was honored with a Jefferson Award recently for her years of dedication as a foster parent.
In her time participating in the foster care system, 78-year-old Linda Owens has taken care of 81 different infants.
Now, she is finally getting the recognition she deserves for all of the lives she has touched.
“It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding,” Owens told CBS affiliate KPIX.
The woman is an unsung local hero that never asked for any praise for her efforts.
While it’s true that foster parents receive a small stipend for their work, Owens did it mainly out of the kindness of her heart.
She worked most of her life as a grocery store manager.
However, she has always enjoyed taking care of babies in her free time. Ever since she was young, she has had an interest in raising newborns.
“This is what God’s handed me a gift to do,” said Owens.
Kids can end up in the foster system at any time up until their 18th birthday.
However, Owens specializes in taking care of the youngest of the bunch. It’s safe to say that at this point, she is a verifiable expert at raising newborns.
As of 2019, there were 423,997 in the US foster care system with approximately 7 percent of those being under the age of one. It works out to 30,626 newborns. Plus, there are an additional 36,425 toddlers between the ages of one and two.
While 81 different infants seems like a lot, there is also what seems like a never-ending supply of kids entering the foster care system every year.
For 55% of the kids that end up in foster care, reunification with the birth parents or primary caregiver is the main case goal.
However, many of the babies that Owens has fostered are ultimately adopted by new parents as well.
Some of them go back to visit her from time to time.
The first baby that Owens ever took care of is now 37 years old!
We can’t imagine the number of stories that she has. There are so many lives that she has made an impact on over the decades.
Even some of the doctors in the area have taken notice of Owens’ goodwill.
Local pediatrician Mika Hiramatsu has had the great pleasure of assisting her with plenty of medical checkups. Owens has brought many babies in to see her during her long career as a foster mom.
“She’s always been very optimistic, always determined to give these babies the best possible start in their lives,” said Dr. Hiramatsu.
Her positive and caring attitude is likely the perfect combination.
It has allowed her to thrive as a resource parent in the system.
It’s not always just one baby at once either. Sometimes, she is taking care of multiple newborns at a time. Included in the 81 babies that she has taken care of are three different sets of twins!
As far as Jefferson Awards go, Owens has definitely earned it.
“For nearly 50 years, we’ve been honoring those who put others first because we’ve seen the power and importance of recognition. Those receiving Jefferson Awards are empowered to do more, while their stories of extraordinary public service inspire others to action.”
Jefferson Awards were created to honor those who “Multiply Good”.
Through her incredible work as a foster parent, Owens has made a huge difference in the city of Hayward.
Watch the full video of the news story from KPIX below.
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