WESTVILLE — If Shirley “Sammy” Miller had a motto, it would be “Always Room for One More,” according to her son, Tuck Miller.
That willingness to open her home to foster children over the years has resulted in an award for the Westville woman.
She was the grand prize winner in a Mother’s Day contest sponsored by WCIA-TV Channel 3. She was selected as the top winner out of five finalists.
Shirley said she was surprised when she won the top prize in the contest. Drew Wilder with the program ciLiving came to her home in Westville, and on May 11, she and Tuck went to the studio for an interview. That’s when she learned she had won the top honor.
While Shirley is pleased with the award, she stresses that her husband, Harvey, deserves it just as much. The two were a team while taking in 23 foster children from 1967 to 1979. They also started the Vermilion County Foster Parents group in 1968, which is still going today.
In addition, they raised four children — Tuck, Greg and Robin, all of Danville, and Channa Cales of Georgetown.
The prize for the grand winner was a trip to French Lick, Ind.; however, the couple, both nearing 80 years old, decided they didn’t want to be too far from Carle Foundation Hospital, as Harvey has a heart pacemaker. They’re waiting to hear about an alternate prize.
Tuck nominated his mother for the honor in a 100-word essay.
He recalled that when he came home on leave from the Navy, he’d call first to see if there was an open bed. He also joked there were always enough children to make up a baseball team.
The Millers’ life as foster parents through the Department of Children and Family Services began when they took in 7-year-old Brenda, who was seven months older than their daughter, Channa. The two girls became inseparable, and liked to dress alike; people thought they were twins.