IDAHO FALLS — A local couple was recently recognized nationally for their efforts in advocating for children in need of a family.
Scott and Nicole Klingler were named a 2021 Angels in Adoption Honoree by the nonprofit organization Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Typically, honorees travel to Washington, D.C., for a gala, but due to COVID-19, a virtual gala was held last Wednesday. The gala — which honors a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations making extraordinary contributions to adoption, permanency and child welfare — celebrated nearly 75 honorees from 40 states.
The Klingler family, who were the only Idahoans to receive the award this year, were given an angel pin, certificate and personalized letter from Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho.
“I don’t feel like we’ve done anything special. We know a lot of other people who have given more to a community and helped people out,” Scott told EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s humbling. We do feel honored that we were nominated for this and chosen.”
Scott and Nicole have been foster parents for over five years. Over that period of time, they have taken in more than a dozen children in need, on top of caring for their own two kids.
As foster parents, the couple discovered one of the hardest parts is when a child steps into a stranger’s home. To help with the adjustment, Nicole had the idea to create “transition bags” and fill them with comfort items such as a fleece blanket, socks, boxed or instant food, toiletries, books and a small stuffed animal.
She gave the bags to a regional nonprofit organization last year called The Village, which gathers items for foster children and distributes them to eastern Idaho children in need.
“Nicole and Scott offer a safe and loving environment for the young boys and girls they foster, providing them with transition bags to make their house in Idaho Falls feel more like home,” Risch said during the gala. “Their selflessness is an inspiration to all. They are more than deserving of this honor.”
Nicole said she believes people often think they have to have a perfect living situation to help kids in foster care, but she doesn’t feel that’s the case.
“Our experience has been you can come in all shapes and sizes and all realms of money and abilities,” she explained. “Everybody has something to give to a child in need. Even if you’re a single parent or you feel a little inadequate or too young or too old, you can still make a difference in having a foster placement in your home.”
If you can’t have foster children in your home physically, Nicole said there are many resources and ways to volunteer your time or provide money to help support the community and the children in need.
Scott added sometimes people tell them they don’t know if they could do foster care because they couldn’t handle letting their hearts get attached to the children. While he recognizes being a foster parent isn’t easy, he knows it’s worth it.
“We’ve often thought, how can you not help a child in need? Even if your heart does get attached and you go through some heartbreak and watch some hard things. Those children are also going through some hard things,” Scott explained. “If you have the ability to help them out for a little while, it may be the best time for them in their life, up to that point.”
To learn more about the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and watch the gala, click here.
Instead of putting transition bags together this Christmas, Scott and Nicole are helping The Village collect shoes, socks and gift cards for older teenagers. To get involved, contact Nicole at (208)757-2489 or The Village at (208)569-6298.