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  News  

Vernon and Arlene Coffey of Goreville accept Governor's PATH award, and are joined by First Lady Patti Blagojevich during the 20th annual Foster/Adoptive Family Picnic in DuQuoin.

Governor Blagojevich gives PATH Award to Du Quoin couple for fostering over 70 children

First Lady presents award to Arlene and Vernon Coffey as part of
Du Quoin State Fair celebrations

More photos: 1, 2

DUQUOIN, August 27, 2005 - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Arlene and Vernon Coffey, both 66 years-old, of Goreville, as the latest recipients of the People Are Today's Heroes (PATH Award) for their tireless commitment to rearing over 70 children from the state's child welfare system as well as adopting four other children.

"Foster parents are often a child's best chance to get a fresh, new start in life. Parents like the Coffey's, who are committed to always open their house and their hearts to as many children as they can take care of, are part of today's heroes, and I'm proud to give them this award," said Governor Blagojevich.

"As parents, the Governor and I know the commitment, patience and dedication it takes to raise children and love them with all our hearts," said First Lady Patty Blagojevich, who presented the PATH Award to Arlene and Vernon Coffey on behalf of the Governor. "The extraordinary commitment that the Coffey's have made over 18 years to welcome children into their home that have survived abuse and neglect, deserves recognition because of the vast and everlasting impact it will have on the nearly 75 children whose lives they have touched. The Coffey's have also diligently worked as advocates to raise awareness about the merits of fostering and adopting children."

The Governor's PATH Award recognizes groups or individuals who, through their hard work and commitment, have improved the lives of those in their community and have helped Illinois move forward in the areas of health care, public safety, education and economic development.

The First Lady presented the Governor's PATH Award to the Coffey's today during the 20th annual Foster/Adoptive Family Picnic that coincides with the Du Quoin State Fair where over 1,100 guests convened. DCFS Southern Region Administrator Bill Peyton joined Mrs. Blagojevich at the award presentation on behalf of the nation's first child welfare agency that celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

"Words can't describe how honored we feel to be recognized for being foster and adoptive parents. We have gotten back even more than we have given by having this experience. We hope this award will shine an even brighter light on the need for more people to become foster parents," said Arlene Coffey." Her husband Vernon Coffey, who is a retired Illinois State Police officer added, "We have really enjoyed our years of fostering, we just tried to give the children the same love and care as we did our own."

During the awards presentation, DCFS caseworker Vivian Robinson commended the Coffey's for contributing countless hours to help other foster parents with difficult issues and for getting involved with a DCFS clothing drive. "I could always count on the Coffey's to have room in their hearts for one more child in need of a family," she said.

In addition to the Coffey's, Governor's PATH Award recipients announced earlier this year through DCFS include the Alternative Schools Network, a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization that provides quality education with a specific emphasis on inner-city children, youth and adults; Family to Family, a Peoria-area initiative that helps improve outcomes for children in the child welfare system; and Rev. Phoenix Barnes, Director of the Fathers' Center, an East St. Louis-based program of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) that is a national model for fathering initiatives.

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Diane Jackson
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
312-814-6847

 

 

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