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Foster mom update: Burial assured, need continues for thousands of kids

Sarah Parker Johnson is shown with just some of her extended foster family. (courtesy Katie Golden)

Yesterday we told you about an angel named Sarah, who was foster mom to more than 40 kids and adopted a number of them, including now 11-year-old Tracy.

Sarah’s daughter Katie first met Sarah as a 9-year-old looking for a place to call home. Today she’s a mother herself.

“She never wanted kids to feel like she did,” Katie said. “She wanted them to feel love and to know love and always know they had a home.”

Sarah gave selflessly and tirelessly for years, until her body gave out over the weekend and she passed away. Her huge extended family in Maple Valley and beyond didn’t have the money for a proper burial, so they turned to the Ron and Don Nation for help.

RELATED: Ron and Don listeners raise money for foster mom

Listeners responded, donating over $14,000 in just a couple of hours to grant Sarah’s family the burial she wanted, and to help cover the costs of expenses for the adopted children left behind.

“It was absolutely heartwarming,” Katie said. “You know, we sat here and listened to the show and within the first few minutes there was like $3,000 raised. We all just busted into tears and could not believe it, just the outpouring of love and help for our family that we received, it was just so overwhelming and amazing.”

The grieving hasn’t eased since Sarah died Sunday. But Katie says not having to worry about her burial or taking care of Tracy and the other girls is a huge relief.

“We were allowed to miss her, but ‘never stop living’ is what she told us,” Katie said.

Foster kids in Washington

While Sarah fostered dozens of kids, I was again reminded it’s just a drop in the bucket. Kim Emmons met Sarah in a support group for foster parents in Maple Valley.

“She was one of the first ones to embrace me,” Kim said.

What Kim learned is the state offers foster parents virtually zero support, financially or otherwise. So they created a non-profit called Foster Champs, to do just that for Maple Valley families.

The group provides funding for anything a foster family might need, from clothes to school supplies to activity fees, not to mention anything extra. When it comes to the need, the numbers are staggering. The state says over 10,000 kids are currently in foster care in our state, with over two thousand waiting for adoptive families.

“There’s such a crisis right now,” Kim said. “Social workers are overworked, overtaxed, have way too many cases. Some of them are taking children to hotel rooms for the night because there’s not a home for them.”

Losing an angel like Sarah is a big blow to far more than just her immediate family. It’s one less home for girls like Katie.

“Now I have two beautiful kids and I get to pass that on to them, show them what love means and being completely safe and loved and respected,” Katie said. “It’s amazing.  I couldn’t have done half of what I do without my mom.”

And thanks to your generous donations, her mom will be buried near her husband next week, just as she wanted. And the money you gave will provide a future for a foster family she made whole.

“I can just see our mom smiling down going ‘thank you for helping my babies.'” Katie said. “So thank you guys a lot, everybody who donated, shared it, posted their condolences. That means a lot to us, more than anybody will ever know. So thank you guys.”

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