Foster parents come to aid of children in need

Parenting teenagers is no easy task, but Lois Reimer, 70, and her husband Herman, 73, have opened their hearts, and their homes, to dozens of teenagers in need of a safe and loving environment.

"It is not as bad as people think," Lois Reimer said of the foster children the couple cares for.

"They learn to love us and we love them dearly."

The Reimers started caring for Mohave County's foster children in 1956, but in 1960, just after the youngest of their own three children was born, Lois's arthritis became severe and they took a break.

Although still suffering from arthritis the couple decided to resume caring for foster children in 1990, taking in youth from eight to 18.

"My husband does most of the work," Lois Reimer said.

"He is very good at taking care of the kids."

For the last four years the couple has taken in only teenagers, and are currently caring for a 15 and a 16-year-old.

"We don't mind taking teenagers," she said.

"They keep us on our toes and up to date on what is going on in the world."

Reimer said the key to parenting teens is communication, understanding, caring and love.

"They learn to listen and talk to us and we learn to listen," she said.

"It is easier raising teenagers now than it was years ago, because I have more patience now."

The couple's former foster children apparently think the Reimers have done an OK job.

Thirty-five foster "kids" who lived with them over the years attended the couple's 50th wedding anniversary three years ago.

"It is very rewarding," Reimer said of being a foster parent.

"A person has no idea how much a person gets back by giving such a small amount to these precious children."

The Riemers are one of 20 foster families in the Kingman area who care for foster children through the Catholic Social Service foster care program.

"Foster parents provide a great service to our community," said Audrey Dressler, the foster care specialist in the Kingman office of Catholic Social Service, a national non-profit organization.

"We deeply appreciate the great services these families provide as they open their hearts and homes to children who cannot live in their own homes."

"Our foster care program is committed to the recruitment, training and support of foster families," Dressler said.

Kathy and Peter Jenkins, who were recently certified to accept foster children from newborn to 7-years-old are awaiting their first child.

The couple went through the foster home licensing process, which takes up to six months to complete.

"We have talked about this for quite a while," said Kathy Jenkins.

"It is a way for us to give back to our community."

The couple has gone through the training and bought everything the kids will need for a smooth transition.

"It must be hard to go from their own family to someone else's home," she said.

"We want to make the transition as easy as possible."

Jenkins added that both she and her husband come from a medical background, and are ready for the challenges ahead.

Lois Reimer said she has taken care of some of her "kids" for up to three years watching them go from troubled teens to confident adults who get married, join the military and go to college.

Others get reunited with their parents.

"The happiest time is when the child gets reunited with their parents," she said.

"We learn to love the parents too.

We tell them 'Please let us know if you need anything.'"

Reimer said she and her husband will continue being foster parents as long as they are able.

"We are extremely blessed," she said.

Dressler said she is grateful to people like the Jenkins' and the Reimers but more such people are needed.

There are thousands of children in Arizona who are neglected or in abusive situations and in desperate need of a loving and caring foster home, she said.

"Foster and adoptive homes provide these children an environment where they can develop positive self-esteem and the inner strength to enable them to grow into confident and happy adults."

For more information about becoming a foster parent call Dressler at 718-1117.