Diane Formoso, a Fircrest resident and founder of the Caring for Kids program that serves approximately 6,000 underprivileged school-age children and their families in Lakewood, University Place and Steilacoom every year, has been named the St. Francis Humanitarian of the Year by the Franciscan Health System Foundation.
A public ceremony to honor her will begin at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3 in the Lakewood City Council Chambers, 6000 Main St.
While she was a school bus driver for the Clover Park School District 30 years ago, Formoso began collecting coats that were then given to children in need. From its humble beginning, her heart-felt effort developed into Caring for Kids, a non-profit organization established in 1991 that has numerous initiatives benefiting struggling families.
Caring for Kids projects include:
- Operating a clothing bank that provides free clothing, shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant through public schools and after-school programs. More than 500 children have been served by the clothing bank within the past year alone.
- Providing free school supplies for approximately 600 children annually.
- Distributing dental-care kits containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and written reminders to brush and floss twice a day. Nearly 2,500 dental kits have been distributed in the past year.
- Managing the Caring for Kids Food Closets, which provide emergency food to hungry children. Supporters include the Emergency Food Network, St. John Bosco Church, individual donors and school fundraisers.
“Diane’s compassion has touched the lives and hearts of many, many adults and children,” said Bob Krotz, president of the Franciscan Foundation. “She saw a need and extended a helping hand. Her commitment to creating a better community, and to serving others, should be a source of inspiration for others.”
The annual Humanitarian Award honors individuals and organizations that exemplify the values of St. Francis, the patron saint of Assisi, and which are committed to serving the poor, promoting peace and embracing diversity. It is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis and the Franciscan Foundation.
This is the 25th year that the Humanitarian of the Year Award has been presented.
“I am deeply honored to have been chosen to receive this award,” said Formoso. “While I appreciate the recognition, I’ve never done this work to receive praise. Saving kids is who I am and what I do.”
The Franciscan Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Franciscan Health System, which includes St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood and St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way.