This is one of a series of stories about the 15 nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
When Mary’s youngest daughter went off to college, she caught a severe case of the empty-nest syndrome.
“What am I going to do?” she kept asking herself. Without her children in her home, she needed something else in her life. Her brother in California was a foster parent, and her husband asked Mary why she didn’t give that a try. Mary didn’t need to be convinced.
“What better way to fill your home with love,” she said. “I just love them (the children).”
Mary looked around for an foster agency in Colorado and found The Chins Up Center through the Griffith Center. She said it was doing amazing things in the community, and was the perfect match for her. Mary’s real name is not being used to protect the child’s privacy.
According to its website, The Chins Up Center looks out for the unmet needs of children and teens in the community. It is part of the Griffith Centers for Children, which was founded in Denver by a woman who believed each child should have a chance to have positive experiences and opportunities in their youth to lead to a more fruitful life.
“They are wonderful,” Mary said of the agency. “They are genuinely nice people, and I was just so impressed by them.”
Mary and her husband soon began caring for was a young boy, whose father brought him in because he couldn’t care for his son in the way he felt was right.
“I was so touched by that,” she said. “I promised the dad to care for his son. The dad was my hero. He loved his son so much.”
Mary cared for the child until the father was able to pull his life together enough to take him back. She loved him through any illness or issue he had and took care of him unconditionally. The young child would sometimes cry, and she said she would just hold him and love him. She wrote his father a letter at the end of her time with his son, describing everything she did with his son. She said she wanted to share her experiences with the child’s father and let him know how much she loved the child.
“It really touched him,” she said of the father. “I would do it for any parent.”