VINTON – Ray and Trish Lough have long been supporters of the foster program in Iowa. The couple has accepted 73 foster children during their lifetime.

It’s been a lifetime passion, a way of giving back for the good fortune of someone who has faced his own challenges in life.

“One thing that keeps us going is that we have a passion for it,” Lough told Vinton Kiwanis members earlier this year.

What perhaps makes the accomplishment even greater is Lough’s blindness. He was born with tumors on each of his retinas.

Lough’s body cannot fight off cancer, but he has successfully defeated the disease four times – once with chemotherapy, twice with radiation and once with surgery.

“I have a lot to be thankful for,” said Lough. “I like to share that gift that I have gotten from God in this way.

“For me, it is a pretty powerful thing to help these kids.”

Lough showed Kiwanians a video on what the situation is like from a child’s perspective.

The average age for a person in foster care is nine years old. Thirty seven percent of those have lived in at least two homes. Fifty two percent of foster children graduate from high school and two percent from college.

“We have work to do yet if we want to get these kids to a successful adulthood,” said Lough. “We have to take it one step at a time and one day at a time.”

As an example of placing children into foster care, Lough told of a call he received on a Friday in May of 2017 in which homes were sought for a family of seven. The Loughs accepted two teenage girls for the weekend.

The caseworkers were met at 12:30 in the morning at the Casey’s in Marengo. Lough said they knew nothing about the two individuals they picked up and the children had not been told anything about who was picking them up.

“So, they get to Marengo and are handed off to complete strangers in the middle of the night,” said Lough. “Trinity had the clothes on her back, a pair of shoes that did not fit her and a stuffed animal. That’s all she had. Her little sister had the clothes on her back and a blanket.”

During the drive to Vinton, the little sister cried the entire way, said Lough.

The family was big and had been sent to several different homes.

In August, the Loughs were called to take in another girl. She lived 120 from Vinton and no one wanted to take her. The girl had been in the Trinity Place.

“The one thing that I do when we take someone into the home is to try not to put a lot of expectations on them,”said Lough. “They are overwhelmed emotionally and they are in shock sometimes.

“Show them their bed, tell them you will talk tomorrow. Get some sleep.”