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Annie & William Dotson

Annie and William Dotson have served as foster parents for Youth Villages for more than a decade. And in that time, they’ve fostered nearly 50 children. Married for 34 years and parents to five biological children, Annie and William both come from large families and view fostering as a way to give back to community. “We love what we are doing to help these children succeed in life,” William said. “I get my blessings by being a blessing to people.” Throughout the years, the Dotsons have been surprised how simple, everyday experiences mean the most to the children they’ve had in their home. For instance, they recalled how grateful one of the first children they fostered was for a big meal. “They ate three or four hotdogs,” Annie said. “They were so hungry.”

Another child enjoyed his first hamburger at the Dotsons house. The boy explained how he’d never had one and how he wasn’t sure if he’d ever have another one. Providing a warm home, feeding the children hearty meals and making sure they know they are loved are what the Dotsons strive to do as foster parents. “We want to fill their ego up so they know they can do things,” Annie said. “We teach them about self-esteem and tell them whatever went on in your life doesn’t have to affect your future. Look up and look forward.”

The decision to foster was a quick one for the Dotsons, but William said going through the certification class is what made him certain this was for them. “I was motivated by going through the class and hearing stories from staff about what some of the kids go through,” he recalled. “As a father, I don’t see anything but love, and I can’t understand how these kids could have gone through some of these things.”

Annie considers fostering a mission to provide youth a second chance. “I want to make a difference in children’s lives,” she said. “You have to have sympathy for them and try to ease their pain. We just have to be there for them and listen.” Compassion is what William said it most needed to be able to foster. “It’s a deep love you have to have for people,” he said. “Love overcomes a lot of things.”

The Dotsons are known as MawMaw and PawPaw to many of the children they once had in their home and are considered family to those who have grown up and had their own kids. “We tell the kids they won’t leave our home the way they came in if they listen and let us be there for them,” William said. Though, Annie emphasized, the changes the children go through don’t happen overnight. “It may take months or even a year,” she said. “But you will make a difference.”

 

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