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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services