Linda Herring, in purple above, is a hero. She'd never call herself that but over 600 others would. The more than 600 children she provided foster care for in Johnson County over a 50-year period. Linda, 75, started providing foster care in the 1970s and stopped just three months ago due to her health. However, her impact will continue well into the future.

Linda and her husband Bob began providing foster care when they lived in Oxford and continued when they moved to Tiffin. It all started when Linda's best friend was providing foster care to teenage girls. After talking to the Iowa Department of Human Services, the Herring's began fostering young kids with medical needs.

By day, Linda had a home daycare for families and worked at night as a high school custodian. And both she and Bob were first responders. Yes, this was one busy household.

Anthony Herring, now 39, was six months old when the Herring family began fostering him. At age three, he was adopted. He's one of three kids the Herring's adopted over the years. He told CNN,

I'm forever grateful for the life I was given. She and Dad have both taught me that family isn't determined by blood, it's who you have in your life to love. It's hard to say in words her impact. She was always available and ready for a child in need. These kids were usually taken from a traumatic situation and she'd take them in, provide a warm bed, clean clothes, warm meals, and love. She also worked hard to keep families together. Keeping siblings together. Helping biological parents make the changes needed to be able to keep their children. She always makes sure a new child in her home was given a professional photograph that was placed on the wall in the living room. That seems like a small thing, but it helps them feel like they're at home.

Why did she do it? Linda says,

I would just love (my foster kids) just like they were my own, probably more than I should.  I cried when the kids would leave my home, no matter how long they had been there. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to them. I always questioned, 'Why do I keep doing this?' because it was never easy to say goodbye to a child. But I kept doing it because I had so much love to give to these children in need.

 

Herring's legacy will continue well into the future. Four of her five biological children have also fostered children. Three of the four adopted some of those kids. Three of Linda's grandchildren have also been foster parents.

Last Thursday night, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Department of Human Services honored Linda and presented her with this Resolution of Appreciation:

Johnson County, Iowa/Twitter

The daughter of one of Linda and Bob's foster children posted the amazing tribute below after last week's ceremony. She concludes with "To the entire Herring Family THANK YOU for the years of sacrifice, love, and kindness you all possess and continue to give our Iowa Children."

Hero.