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Meet the deacon who’s been a foster parent 50 times

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/29/15


This is humbling and inspiring: 

He never expected it, but Deacon Neil Tift realized he was making a difference when he came home from work on his birthday to find a card and a chocolate candy bar, a gift from JR, the adult foster son who has been living with him and his wife, Denise. “I was so touched,” said Dcn. Tift. “He has very poor self-esteem from years of neglect. I just felt at that moment he really understood that he was part of a family.” In Arizona, where there are more than 17,000 children in foster care, the most being in Maricopa County, Dcn. Tift and Denise, who serve at Christ the King Parish in Mesa, have opened their hearts and home to make a difference in the lives of approximately 50 children and young adults for the past 21 years. “Neil and I were unable to have children together, so we thought it would be nice to adopt, so we adopted our daughter, Hannah, who has special needs,” said Denise. “We also decided to become involved in foster parenting, which has given us such a great sense of family and brought Neil and I closer together.” …While foster care requires dedication and energy, Dcn. Tift and Denise say that it is very rewarding and fulfilling. “We have just been blessed to have been part of the lives of so many children and adults. There is such a huge need for children to have a family,” said Dcn. Tift. “If they don’t have a foster home, the children will sleep in DPS offices or in crisis centers until they find a home for them.” Both believe they are living out Dcn. Tift’s vocation to be “Christ the Servant” by serving the Church and serving as foster parents. “We pray together, and take some alone time to do devotions before bed or when we get up,” said Denise. “I feel strongly that God has led us on this path to take care of His children.”

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