Pogue receives Norman Boyer Award for work in therapeutic foster care

Published 2:38 pm Friday, May 15, 2009

Boyer was instrumental in bringing mental health services to Polk, Henderson and Rutherford Counties and started wellness centers. There have been several Norman Boyer Award recipients over the past decade, including Dr. Jeff Carter, Dr. Gordon Schneider, Rachel Ramsey, Stan Bayne, Rob Fuller, Pat Dockendorf, Sue Rhodes, Eloise Thwing, Cathy Brooks and Leslie and the late Robert Huntley.

Following is the speech given about Dianne Pogue by Barbara Trumble of the Polk County Mental Health Advisory Board during Tuesday&squo;s ceremony:

We are honoring Dianne Pogue today for a commitment to children that spans three decades. While raising their own son, Jeff, and daughter, Elizabeth, she and her husband, Gary, were therapeutic foster parents for over 20 years in Minnesota. They were members of the state Foster Care Association. They worked with Project Solo, an agency that found apartments for homeless teens and helped them pay rent and find jobs. She was on a committee to find an apartment building for teens who aged out of foster care and found themselves without a place to live. She worked on several other committees there to improve care for children. She worked with legislators to promote bills that helped children with health care access, individual education plans and better training for foster parents.

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Therapeutic foster care by definition means children with special needs that might include mental illness, substance abuse, developmental or physical disabilities, certainly behavioral issues and sometimes all of the above. Dianne and Gary have continued to provide therapeutic foster care for teens since moving here in 2001, a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week responsibility.

For Dianne, this means more than just providing a safe refuge but ensuring involvement in the community and schools and planning for the future of each child. She models a warm, accepting home life with a firm hand that most of these children have seldom seen. She goes beyond the expectations of good foster care as she tirelessly transports her charges to activities and jobs outside the home and school. She seems to find something to like and build on in any angry, negative teen that comes her way.

She has not quit advocating for youth since coming to Polk County. She has served on the Mental Health Task Force and the Mental Health Advisory Board. She has been chair of the Youth Collaborative Council and of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. She was on the committee to bring a group home for up to four boys to the county. And she is currently working with a committee to establish a home for girls here.

She has been a volunteer for Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, providing rides to medical appointments. She chaired a furniture drive for new residents of Ashley Meadows and worked on a committee to provide home repairs for people who couldn&squo;t afford it.

She has visited with elders and shut-ins and delivered meals to homes for several years. She has been an active member of the Tryon Congregational Church, where she has served on several committees and helped expand the outreach mission of the church in the community.

Dianne and Gary are also proud grandparents of 22-month old Charlie Zellinger.

As she models home and family life for teens in her care, she sets an example for all of us with her efforts to ensure that when they move outside that protected environment they might have a chance to succeed. This is truly a sound investment in preventive care for the future and deserving of recognition with the Norman Boyer Award.