The theme for the second annual Foster Parent Appreciation Gala on May 1, 2004 was “Foster Parents are a Work of Heart.” The event – co-sponsored by COG and the Freddie Mac Foundation -- was an opportunity for elected officials to honor nine outstanding foster families, as well as legions of individuals throughout the metropolitan area who open their homes and their hearts to children in need. Although often unheralded, the region’s foster parents were treated to a night of dinner, dancing, and accolades at the Trinity Center at Trinity College.
The event drew a crowd of more than 800 foster and adoptive parents, family members, elected officials, and social services administrators and staff. For the second year, the evening’s program was hosted by Barbara Harrison, NBC-4 news anchor and host of the “Wednesday’s Child” program. “Wednesday’s Child” is an Emmy-nominated weekly television feature that helps find adoptive families for children in foster care.
“Tonight’s ceremony is only a small tribute compared with the tremendous care and compassion you provide for the children most in need of love,” said COG Board Chair and District of Columbia Council Member Phil Mendelson. “Yet, I feel that it is an important cause for celebration.” Local jurisdictions nominated outstanding foster families to receive special awards. Harrison, in addition to elected officials and social services administrators from local jurisdictions, presented awards to the following foster parents:
- Tony and Sharon Poulakowski, Alexandria, VA
- Amy Jones, Arlington County, VA
- Janice and James Narel, Fairfax County, VA
- Debra Comer (and Parents), Loudoun County, VA
- Jonathan Walraven, Prince William County, VA
- Nancy and Paul Metal, Frederick County, MD
- Donna and David Owens, Montgomery County, MD
- Louis and Paulette Thomas, Prince George’s County, MD
- Yvonne Walker, District of Columbia
In the metropolitan Washington region alone, 6,000 children are in foster care on any given day. Children in family foster care return to their biological families, become available for adoption, or are placed in a permanent situation.