November 2011

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work to inspire Someone You Should Know: Cora White Offering more than just a home to children in need By Elishah Oesch Pictures, paintings, and artifacts from almost every country in the world are on display all over the four-story home of the self- proclaimed CEO of Moms. Each one tells a unique story of more than 30 years of service and more than 200 young lives changed. The house isn't just a place to sleep and eat—it's the only home hundreds of children have ever known, and its owner is Cora White, the woman they all call "mom." For the past 30 years, White has been a foster mother to area children in need, taking in every kind of child you can imagine. "[I've had] African American kids, white kids, Latino kids, Indian kids, American Indian kids. I've had African kids, bi-racial kids, boys, girls, you name it," she says. Each one needed a home, and White gave them so much more, offering not just food and shelter to some of the most broken and neglected kids she's seen, but also a sense of self-worth and a global perspective. She's even taken several of them travelling the world with her. "It teaches them that there's another group of people who are living a different lifestyle than you, and it has turned so many kids around," she says. Kids like Andrea Thundercloud. Now an adult, Thundercloud was one of White's more than 200 foster children. "When I first came here, I was scared and it was intimidating," she admits. "And as a teenager, I thought I knew everything." But over the years, White's life lessons and motherly advice sunk in, helping Thundercloud learn to love herself and others. "She's taught me responsibility, caring and trust," Thundercloud says. Today, 25 years later, she says, "[Cora's] my best this day I call her mom." Thundercloud and many of White's foster kids often visit their "mom." But White says that while her door is always open, she knows how important it is for these children to move on. She's not afraid to tell them, "You have to go on now, and live your own life." Practicing what she preaches, White is moving on as well, re- Better the life of a local child through these area resources Get Involved Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County A professionally supported one-on-one mentoring program pairs you with a local child. Visit Boys & Girls Club of Dane County Volunteer-run programs reach out to young children in need to inspire and motivate achievement. Visit Community Care Resources Just one of the licensed area agencies that supports foster families and children in need. Visit communitycareresourc- Wisconsin Department of Children & Families Works with licensed foster families to coordinate safe homes for children in need due to abuse or neglect. Visit United Way of Dane County Find a variety of volunteer op- tions, including opportunities to give time to causes helping area youth in different ways. Visit tiring from fostering kids. "I just think it's time," she says. Yet despite her retirement from foster care, her life will be anything but quiet. White has several projects in the works including a new neighborhood center and, "a new school going up in our neigh- borhood." White is passing on the torch of fostering children, hoping that others will follow in her footsteps—and she has advice for those who do. She says it's all about one thing, something so simple but so important to kids: Time. "They want someone to listen," she says. "They want someone to talk to them. They want values and morals. They want someone [to whom] they can say, 'You taught me that!'" Like every mom, White wishes for every child the same kind of joy and peace she's seen in her life. "I love life! I love living, I love people, I love good food and I love to travel!" she says. And she loves it all even more for having shared it with others. ••• Elishah Oesch is co-anchor of WKOW27's Wake Up Wisconsin. See White's story on Wake Up Wisconsin on Nov. 1 and 27 News at 10 on Nov. 2. 36 BRAVA Magazine November 2011 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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