OGDEN -- Two individuals and several units from Hill Air Force Base were honored at a luncheon Thursday for their contributions to foster care.
Loretta Park, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner, Barbara Booth, a long-time foster care parent, and representatives from Hill received the first Gold Hearts Awards from the Utah Foster Care Foundation.
Park spent a year as a foster child and has written stories for the Standard-Examiner about her experiences, as well as other aspects of foster care.
Brenda Durtschi, the foundation's northern region area representative, noted that the personal side of Park's experiences come out in her stories. "People call after her stories run," she said.
In her remarks accepting the award, Park said, "We should honor those (who protect children) and offer a place of refuge to kids in their dark hours, kids who feel unsafe and don't know they should feel safe."
Booth and her husband, Jeff, have been foster parents for 21 years and have had more than 90 foster children, adopting one of them.
Most stay with the family for two or three months, she said, although some stay longer.
Booth, of Ogden, said she has become close to the parents of some of the foster children. Her experiences as a foster parent have broadened her perspectives and helped her appreciate some things she hadn't before, "meeting and being enriched by those I wouldn't have met otherwise."
Both Booth and Park also thanked their families for their support.
The Hill units, specifically the 75th Air Base Wing and the 388th and 419th fighter wings, were honored for their support of the foundation's Christmas Giving Tree program.
Members of the units have donated their own time and resources to help distribute Christmas gifts to kids in foster care in an area that stretches from the Idaho border south to Point of the Mountain and west to Tooele.
The Utah Foster Care Foundation is a nonprofit organization that finds, educates and supports families in providing foster care.
Currently, 2,800 children throughout the state are in foster care.
To learn more about foster care opportunities, call 877-505-5437.