“A dream come true”: Saint Cloud foster home destroyed by fire reopens with community help

SAINT CLOUD, Fla. — A St. Cloud mom committed to taking care of and adopting special-needs children is spending the holiday weekend in a newly-rebuilt home.

In February 2020, 14 people, including six children with special needs, were evacuated after fire destroyed the family’s home on Alabama Avenue.

Since then, the St. Cloud community has come together to rebuild it.

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Adoptive mother Gail Foster moved into the home in 1996, and over the years, she and her late husband Bill fostered nearly 500 special needs children, and adopted more than two dozen themselves.

“We were going to give as many children love for their lifetime as we could do in our lifetime,” Foster said.

After the fire, a local construction company helped start a project to rebuild the home and donations began to pour in from all across Central Florida, and the rest of the country.

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“A thief came in, in the middle of the night and took everything we had, not realizing the great things that were going to come out of it in the end,” Foster said.

Earlier this week, the family was welcomed back into their new home with a reception that included the entire “C-Shift” firefighters who helped rescue those children the night of the fire.

“The moon, the stars, the planets...whatever deity you believe in, everything worked that night,” St. Cloud Fire Rescue Chief Jason Miller said. “All of our units were available at that moment in time.”

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Foster says she’s grateful for the bigger family she’s gained beyond the walls of the home.

“I just keep sitting here looking around,’ Foster said. “It’s like a dream come true.”