From Foster Parent to Mentor

While spending 18 years as a mentor to five boys through Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ray Fuller realized there was a tremendous need for foster homes. Taking the next step, he reached out to us to become a licensed foster parent. The next few years proved to be challenging at time as Ray provided a loving home to four boys. But he was proud as he watched his placements find success and realize their dreams as they became adults.

After many years with little involvement with youth, Ray felt he wasn't keeping up with today's children. At 72, he reached out to us again and began mentoring a teenage boy.

They have bonded while swimming, fishing, watching movies and dining out. Ray also supports his mentee by attending his football games and, most recently, they started volunteering together at Wayside Waifs. Ray's mentee is very attached to him and even invited Ray to meet his beloved grandparents. This pairing is on the path to a long-term friendship.

"We both agreed to remain in contact with each other event after he has a placement," Ray shared.

Observing this relationship has been a pleasure for our staff, and program leader Vicky Leitnaker even nominated Ray for Shepherd's Center Central's 70 Over 70 award this year. We were very happy when we recently learned that he was selected as an honoree. 

When told of the recognition, Ray went silent and then very quietly said, "I don't do this for awards. The reward is seeing these kids better off."

And that, Ray, is one of the reasons we nominated you.