An hour east of Los Angeles, in the city of Fontana, resides a woman with an extraordinary mission. Originally from Zacatecas, Mexico, Gloria first heard about foster parenting through a friend in the late 1970s. Since then, she’s fostered around 300 children, including kids with various disabilities.
“I currently have three siblings who have been diagnosed with ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and learning disabilities,” she says. “It feels like you work three times harder to assist them because of their attention span, ability to understand requests and issues with memory.”
Foster children face staggering odds: one in five become homeless after age 18, nearly 25% will have no high school diploma and less than 1% complete college.
Gloria tells the story of three sisters and a brother who were homeless, eating out of trashcans and stealing clothing before being placed in her home.
“I took them shopping for food and clothing and set the rules,” she says. “I told them they were all very smart, that I would take care of them and, if they took this opportunity, they would succeed.”
All three of those sisters went on to college and careers—one just graduated this year from UCLA—and their brother, who is still in Gloria’s care, is headed in the same direction.
“Anybody who comes to my home can follow their dreams,” she says. “I tell them: ‘You can do anything you want and I’ll be right behind you.’ ”
Wayfinder Family Services acquired foster family agency programs last year to assist foster parents like Gloria and encourage the fostering of children with disabilities. “Wayfinder has supported me in my goal to do the best for the children,” she explains.
“I appreciate the programs, such as the camp and activities like the carnivals, and being able to have opportunities for the children to participate.”
Gloria says her biggest success in life is being given the opportunity to make a difference in these youth’s lives. She says, “I’m very proud they were willing to take the opportunity and follow my rules and walk that path of success.”
She’s watched some of her foster children become teachers and social workers, serve in the military, and attend other universities such as Cal State LA and University of San Diego. •
August 29, 2018