Published in the Herald News (author unidentified)
FALL RIVER — On a typical day, Nanci Fiddes is up at 5 a.m. making breakfast for her three kids so she can get them dressed in their uniforms and off to school on time.
Fiddes is 66.
A mother of grown children, ages 48 and 46, she and her husband, David, were tired of “rambling around” in their eight-bedroom house all alone.
Fiddes said she missed hearing the pitter-patter of little feet, so the couple decided to use some of those bedrooms for kids in need of foster care.
First, they started with older kids who were about to age out of the system at 18. The Fiddes offered them not just a place to stay, but valuable life skills so they’d be ready to live on their own. In all, they hosted nine young adults.
When a brother and sister, Davien, 2, and Kryssa, 3, needed a foster home, the Fiddes took them in and fell in love almost immediately.
“They walked through the door and we were goners,” Fiddes said.
The children were placed by the New Bedford Program of Massachusetts Mentor, an agency that receives referrals from the Department of Children and Families. It currently has 60 children placed in foster homes across the state. But, many more need homes.
“We work with children who have experienced some type of abuse or neglect,” said Lynn Lanza, a foster parent recruiter for the New Bedford program. “Every day, we get calls from DCF about children in need of a home.”
The Fiddes went through a 30-hour training program at Massachusetts Mentor before becoming foster parents. Lanza said it isn’t always easy to find people “committed” enough to take those steps.
For those reasons, foster parents are always in demand.
Some may think the Fiddes, at their age, are not your typical parents.
But that’s OK. Lanza said there really is no “normal.” Foster parents come in all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.
“And, you don’t have to be perfect,” Fiddes said.
The Fiddes family adopted the little brother and sister last year, now ages 6 and 5.
“We haven’t looked back,” Fiddes said.
Just after the adoption, they took in another foster child, a girl of 3. They couldn’t be happier with their second family.
“It’s wonderful,” Fiddes said. “Just to hear them laughing and running around and having so much fun. It just makes you feel great.”
Fiddes said her family keeps her young, even though she admits to being in bed at 7 p.m. every night.
Today, on Mother’s Day, Fiddes, who worked as a caterer for many years, will be firing up her new cooking stove and making a roast pork and beef tenderloin for 30 people.
She isn’t feeling put upon. Cooking for a crowd is something she enjoys.
Having cared for a total of 14 kids, including her own children, foster children and adopted children, she isn’t going to stop any time soon.
“I don’t think my work is done yet,” Fiddes said.
To learn more about Massachusetts Mentor, visit www.MakeADifferenceAtHome.com or call 508-995-3251.