Appleton, WI — The Snell’s house in Appleton, Wisconsin has been called “home” to more than 300 children for two decades.
“It’s been the greatest trip anyone could ever have, it really has,” Art Snell reminisces.
The trip began when Joyce Snell read an article about a child, beaten to death. Immediately the couple went to Outagamie County for a foster care license.
“Life is precious and the little ones especially — I think they need so much protection.”
Each month, up to ten kids in Outagamie County require foster care. Art and Joyce were on emergency call for many of them.
“As bad as the abuse and neglect can be, for many kids being removed from their home and what’s familiar can be the most traumatic of all of that,” Andrea Lemke-Rochon from Outagamie County Foster Care Replacement explains.
With experience from their own five kids, the Snells made that easy.
“Every kid that we ever had, we would say goodnight and kiss them goodnight, and when we close the door, we’d say, ‘I love you,'” Art shares. “And for the first two or three nights, there was no response, and about the third night, out of the darkness, you would hear, ‘I love you too.'”
More than a hundred Outagamie County families are licensed to host a child, but officials say the need keeps increasing.
“There are people that wonder what I’m here for. Foster parents don’t wonder about that. They know why they’re here. They’re here because a child needs them.”
It’s not Outagamie County’s Career Service Award or the gifts, invitations, and phone calls they get from their kids. It’s that their home is always full of love and surprises, like a knock on the door this Christmas Eve from one of their many foster kids.
“I said, ‘For heaven sakes, how are you?’ and he said, ‘Do you think Joyce has any hot chocolate?’ and of course had it almost immediately.”