One source of great satisfaction is knowing that you have made a difference in the life of another. For Virginia Ulch, this fulfillment has come in a variety of ways.
Providing a guiding light
“I tend to lean towards being a helper, and I love kids,” explained Ulch, describing her enjoyment for the field of education. After working as a special education teacher in an elementary school, she realized that she was spending a lot of time in the classroom working with students on emotional issues. Following a suggestion from the principal, Ulch took an internship and then pursued her master’s degree in school counseling, which led to her work with the Toledo Public Elementary Schools.
“I do miss teaching, especially that light bulb moment of ‘Aha!’” she said. “But as a school counselor we do a lot of classroom guidance, so I still get to go into the classroom and work with kids.”
Her love for helping children is not just her daytime job, but also her life. One of her first jobs was in a group home at St. Anthony Villa, a residential center for teens with behavioral issues that was in operation from 1855 to 2001. While at St. Anthony Villa she noticed that many kids needed guidance and friendship, which ultimately lead to her decision to become a foster mother.
For all of her adult life, she has been caring for children in the foster system. “My last kid is grown and out of the house as of last year and I’m going through the empty nest syndrome, but now I get the joy of being a grandparent,” she said.
Keeping busy with writing
And although she may have an empty nest, she is keeping busy with her book series that focuses on difficulties children may face in their lives. Her series includes Love You, Teddy: A “Tail” of Loss and Hope and I Love You Anyway: A “Tail” of Understanding ADHD. As of September, she has added two more books, Bullyfish and Happy to “Bee” Me. Along with the story, the books all provide advice and classroom activities for teachers and parents.
Her first book and perhaps most popular, Love, Bandit: A “Tail” of Foster Care, is geared towards children in the foster care system who may be struggling with their emotions. After a baby raccoon unexpectedly came into her life, she found the perfect narrator for the story, and includes real photographs of Bandit the baby raccoon as her illustrations.
Foster care can be a scary experience, so Ulch has recently partnered with Adopt America Network to create Friends for Foster Care, providing more than 400 children in Lucas County each year with a copy of Love, Bandit and a plush raccoon stuffed animal. It is the hope of Ulch that Friends for Foster Care will help provide a little comfort for the children during the difficult transition.
To order a book from the series and the accompanying plush stuffed animal,
please visit heart2heartresources.weebly.com.
And to donate to the Friends for Foster Care please visit
Q & A with Virginia Ulch
What’s your favorite activity to do with your family/kids?
“We always took road trips. We’d go to Florida or Virginia. That’s the luxury of being in a school district; you get to do a lot of traveling over the summers.”
Best Christmas memory you have from when you were a kid? “My grandparents. I always loved Christmas at their house. They had a silver tree with a color wheel and it was always so magical watching the tree go from blue to red to green.”
What’s your go-to activity when you finally have a few minutes to yourself? “Reading. Getting lost in a book.”
Name one thing you swore you’d never do as a mom, but totally do. “Ground my kids. I used to tell my mom I would never ground my kids, but as a mom I had to ground them.”
Describe your life in three words. “Exciting, unpredictable, peaceful.”