Valerie Foster, 75, of Central Point, passed away Saturday, June 8, 2019 at Providence Medford Medical Center.
It was Valerie Foster’s personal healing through therapy that sparked her interest in studying psychology. Through her own healing and spiritual growth, she’s been able to help others.
“I took the anger from the abuse I suffered as a child, and turned it around into doing something about abuse,” she said. It takes a great deal of courage in order to heal, and I help mu clients feel safe with me. I’ve worked on the healing myself, so I’m able to give that to others, to help them heal themselves.”
Foster, 58, a mental health counselor at McLoughlin Middle School, is also a psychotherapist in private practice. In addition, she is a volunteer with “DASIL” (Disability Advocacy for Social and Independent Living), where she is also the vice chairman on the board.
“DASIL is a grassroots Independent Living Center,” she said. “They focus on serving disabled people throughout Jackson County in all capacities: housing, job skills, and emotional needs.”
DASIL recently opened a shop at 21 N. Ivy in Medford called, “Alley Antiques and Dasiling Thrift”, with all proceeds going back to DASIL to help support their programs for people with disabilities.
Foster has also overcome severe physical hardships. In 1952, she contracted polio when a severe epidemic swept the nation. At eight years old, the virus left her paralyzed from the neck down.
“Some of the nerves are attacked so severely by the virus that they die off,” she said. “With no nerve message, there is no muscle movement, and muscle atrophy.”
Within the next year, Foster regained most of the use of her arms and legs, but endured several years wearing braces, in addition to having multiple surgeries.
“I started out with a back brace, two long leg braces and crutches. I had a neck brace and arm brace and then had surgeries,” she said. “My last surgery was at age 15 and I got rid of the last brace about six months later.”
In 1985, Foster began experiencing symptoms of post-polio syndrome. Living in Colorado Springs at the time, doctors advised her to move to a lower elevation. The alternative, she was told, was to have a tracheotomy and a ventilator.
“At that elevation, it was hard to breathe,” she said. “My lungs are healthy, but the muscles around the lungs were weak enough that I needed to make some changes so that I could breathe better.”
With family roots in Oregon, Foster and her husband Rob moved to southern Oregon in 1991, eventually settling in Central Point.
Although Foster began using a wheelchair in 1995, she has never let her disability get in the way of doing what she sets out to accomplish.
Still, Foster would like to let the community know that, because most people involved with DASIL have physical disabilities, there is a need for able-bodied volunteers to help with setting up and tearing down at special events.
“We’d like to have a resource list of able-bodied people that we can call occasionally,” she said. “We have events and don’t have anyone to lift the table.”
For more information on DASIL, contact Executive Director Kate Baxted at 608-6746.