The first house parents of Samaritan House share their remarkable story and journey...
We first met Dusty when he was about a year old. It was 1987, and we were serving as the first “house parents” at Samaritan House. I was a school teacher and Bob worked as a building contractor. We decided to volunteer, living for one year with homeless men, women and families to help them rebuild their lives.
When we started, there were more than 180 residents. We worked hard to welcome new families, mentor them through struggles and help with their needs. We did a lot of things every family has to do. We supervised during chores, helped with the after school program, oversaw the playroom, picked up groceries, drove families, and organized the clothing program and Christmas events.
(Volunteering) made me realize caring for the homeless should be done in much the same way as you would raise your family. You can’t simply feel sorry for them and give them clothes to put on their back, food in their belly, a bed to sleep in and a roof over their head. We saw their needs and gave them the love and discipline of a family, just as we tried to give our own children.
It was at Samaritan House that Dusty made his way into our hearts. He was everyone’s favorite. Always friendly and the first kid to do things, like somersaults. Dusty was the first in the playroom and the last to leave because his mom was never there. I often rubbed his dry skin with Eucerin and tucked him in at night.
When we found out he was placed in a crisis center for children, we drove to pick him up and take him home. Dusty, who was only two years old then, came bouncing around the corner. We couldn’t believe his reaction when he saw us.
After all that time, he still remembered us. And he knew our names! It touched our hearts. We wanted him as our son. But you see, we already had a family. Our four children were grown and off at college. We never imagined we would adopt a child. I was 49 and Bob was 53 years old when we brought Dusty into our family.
We were asked to be foster parents until the situation “got straightened out” but it never did. That’s how we became “mom” and “dad” to Dusty. He’s married now and has three children of his own. We couldn’t be more proud.
After we moved on as house parents, Samaritan House continued to be a part of our family. For 10 more years we served at the shelter and loved to watch it grow. A small part of Samaritan House's history has forever changed our lives.