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In recent weeks I've had the privilege to emcee the annual Salute to Families dinners for Heartland Family Service. Each year in conjunction with National Family Week, the agency honors families in four different categories both in southwest Iowa and the Omaha metro.
It's always an uplifting evening and the Omaha family that I'm writing about in this blog was honored with the 2008 Commitment to Family award.
Kathi Plato is a single woman who worked for nearly 25 years as a pediatric nurse. Many of the children she cared for were critically ill. She and a few other dedicated people lobbied for changes in Nebraska that would allow single people to adopt children or provide foster care. They were successful in 1976 and Kathi brought home two children from the hospital as a foster parent.
Kathi has now provided care for over 100 children in her home over 29 years. She adopted 10 children along the way who had special medical issues.
Today, Kathi is a single mom of ten special needs children, eight of whom still live at home. She works almost full-time, and through her job and spare time, advocates for the needs of foster children.
All eight children were at the awards dinner and the whirlwind of activity that came in the room with them gave everybody a glimpse of Kathi Plato, the loving mom who has great management skills. The older children helped corral the younger and thoroughly entertained the crowd in the process. The group photo was priceless.
While Kathi gives credit to a network of friends and caregivers who come alongside when she needs help, Kathi receives richly deserved credit as a difference-maker in our community.