February 2018 Jefferson Award: Linda Merriam

WAUSAU (WAOW) – A Wausau area woman who dreamed of having a large family sees her wish come true and is recognized with a Jefferson Award for helping others.

Linda Merriam and her husband have four biological children, seven adopted children and nearly 70 they have taken in as foster care children.

"It is the most rewarding thing you are ever going to do," Linda Merriam said.

One of foster children nominated her for the Jefferson Award, writing "Linda means so much to me and has done so much for our community." (Privacy rules involving foster children protect their identities so we cannot share the name of the child.)

In Marathon County, 120 children are currently in foster care.

Foster care coordinators say there is always a shortage of families, but they are lucky to have several who have been doing it for awhile.

Linda is one of them.

"What Linda does is amazing. She is a safe and calming presence," Foster Care Coordinator Sara Klebenow said.

Linda says her faith keeps her strong and she reaches out to other families by teaching classes about foster care.

Her mission helping children has many rewards.

"I do it as much for me as I do it for them," she said. "It is the best thing in the world when your child is happy and you helped them achieve that."

For information on becoming a foster parent, contact the social services department in your area.

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