Devereux Florida foster parent retires after 50 years of helping more than 200 youth
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida foster parent Mary Pangle knew at an early age she wanted to help children in need, after attending a teen retreat where she heard stories about youth without loving families or places to call home.
Over the past 50 years, Pangle opened her heart and home to more than 200 children and adolescents in central Florida. She retired this summer after decades of service.
“I always believed fostering was my calling – it was my life plan,” said Pangle. “Shortly after my husband and I became foster parents, we welcomed a teenager into our home who had been severely abused and wanted to take her own life. We showed her love and support, and got her the help she needed to thrive. Knowing we saved a life made me want to continue doing all I could to assist youth in need.”
Devereux Florida Executive Director Lisa Kroger noted, “Mary’s dedication and passion for helping children is undeniable. We are extremely grateful to Mary – and all of our foster parents – for the meaningful work they do each day, providing loving, supportive and nurturing homes to those in need.”
Answering a call to serve
Pangle and her late husband, Don, began their foster care journey in the 1960s, after discovering children living alone in an abandoned building in Orlando.
The couple cared for those children, and quickly realized they wanted to do more for the community.
In the 1990s, the Pangles opened a group home called Seminole Children’s Village. This paved the way for them to become the first group home parents for Devereux Florida, and later, therapeutic foster care parents, helping more than 200 youth heal from trauma.
“I still keep in contact with most of my foster children,” Pangle shared. “Some of them call to update me on their lives, and it makes me feel wonderful knowing I made a difference. One of my foster children told me he owns a successful landscaping company, thanks, in part, to mowing the lawn as a child. Another youth is a singer in New York City, and credits us with introducing him to our church choir. Several of them visit me on a regular basis, and have even introduced me to their own children. I remember and love all of my kids.”
From one foster parent to another
While Pangle has officially retired, she will continue working with Devereux Florida to advocate for more foster parents, and serve as a mentor to those who choose that path.
“Being a foster parent is the absolute best and most rewarding thing you could do with your life,” Pangle said. “There will be ups and downs – but every child is worth it.”
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