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After fostering for 22 years, Oregon foster family needs help in return

Julie and Steve Wolfe fostered dozens of children over 22 years. Now, as she battles stage 4 cancer, they need help fixing their home.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Julie Wolfe is a beam of light. Even on a sunny day in the Portland metro area, she shines brighter. Within minutes of meeting her, she has a way of making you feel like family.

“My husband will tell you, I can’t say no. I have a really hard time with that,” Julie said. “If you need help, you’re going to get it.”

That is an important trait when you’re a foster parent. For 22 years, Julie and her husband Steve brought dozens of kids off all different abilities and needs into their home.

“I came home and I said, ‘honey this is what we’re going to do,’” she said with a chuckle.

“I didn’t always agree with some of the things, but I just went with them because it was the right thing to do,” Steve said.

Credit: Julie Wolfe

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Julie's faith and love led the way.

“That’s my goal, that was our goal the whole time – just love that child while they were in my home until they can move on to where they’re supposed to be,” Julie said.

In addition to their two biological sons, the Wolfes adopted four of their foster children.

“I told [Julie] one time after our second one was born … she had a rough pregnancy, so I told her we could always adopt. Little did I know, four kids later,” Steve chuckled.

Even after retiring from fostering, they still have a full house, with three young adults and Julie’s 84-year-old mom Beverly, alongside Julie and Steve.

“I’m supposed to be taking care of her, she’s 84 years old, and for the last year she’s been taking care of me,” Julie said.

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Julie and Steve need the support of their family now more than ever.

“My original diagnosis was in March of last year and I had a softball-sized tumor on my shoulder blade,” Julie said.

Julie has soft tissue sarcoma and now it’s stage four cancer. Her doctor gave her two years to live.

“I was cancer-free for three months, had my scan and it had moved to my lungs and the chest wall, and it’s stage four,” she said. “I said challenge accepted because I can beat this.”

At the same time, Steve was also diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Luckily, it was caught early and he’s cancer-free after having his prostate removed.

“We had his follow-up and there is absolutely no cancer. They got it all,” Julie said. “We’re good to go with him, which is awesome for my kids because they were like, ‘oh my gosh, both my parents have cancer.’” 

However, with one glimmer of hope comes more hardship.

“Well, I almost feel like all of a sudden my house is falling down around me,” Julie said.

And that is more than a metaphor. The roof on Julie and Steve’s home is in disrepair and needs to be replaced. It has caused water to seep in, creeping into the kitchen, the bathroom, and bedrooms.

Now, they fear mold will cause even more problems for the family's health.

“I can’t work right now, and Steve was off — between COVID and then the cancer — he was off for about a year and a half. So, we’re just constantly playing catch-up and there is no money to put a roof on the house,” Julie said.

Friends and family started a GoFundMe to pay for repairs, but the roof will cost at least $25,000.  

“It’s brought it quite a bit of money, but not enough,” Julie said.

After decades of helping kids in the community, the Wolfes need the community to help them — help to repair the roof of the home that has provided a safe, loving place to so many over the years.

“That was my goal, like I said, to just give them the love that they needed when they were at my house,” Julie said.

“She’s amazing, really. I mean that’s how you sum it up,” Steve said of his wife.

You can donate to the Wolfe’s GoFundMe here.

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