INDIANAPOLIS — For decades she has devoted her life to helping raise hundreds of children, which is why Miss Virginia Johnson is being considered a Remarkable Woman.
“You couldn’t walk through the neighborhood without them knowing about our house,” said Joe Johnson, one of Virginia’s children. “Her feeling is, that if she didn’t do it a lot of them may not have anywhere to go.”
On the near north side of Indianapolis, the 97-year-old Virginia has a home that is filled with more memories than she can count from her years as a foster parent.
“I did it because I loved it,” she said.
Over the 50 years she has been taking kids in from Indiana’s foster care system, Virginia has been a mother to more than 300 children. Each one made to feel like part of her family.
“We were a pretty tight family. I have never really known the difference between the foster kids. We were always considered stepbrothers and sisters,” said Joe. “She gave all of herself to the kids and to helping others.”
For her kindness and generosity, Miss Virginia has a long list of awards, including the Sagamore of the Wabash award from three different governors.
However, what this two-time cancer survivor is most proud of isn’t on paper, it’s more personal.
“Her biggest reward was the kids that came through and how they succeeded and that was her reward for it and even now when you talk about it her biggest thing is not what she did but what they have done,” Joe said.
Taking in so many children wasn’t easy, and there were many challenges to overcome. Much of it done with patience and prayer.
“If you’re going to be in this business,” Virginia said. “I think you got to know the need of prayer because you sure will call on God every so often.”
“Through it all her thing was there aren’t bad kids, there aren’t problem kids. There are kids that just need help which makes a big difference,” Joe explained.
From weddings to holidays and more events, the entire family still makes sure to stay in touch.
“She’s been a change for so many people’s lives and even to this day those with kids bring them by for her to meet and talk to and let them know how things were for them and how things are now.”
And over the years, Miss Virginia’s family has continued to grow, and so does her heart.
“It was all worth it when you sit back and look and see how they turned out,” she said.