Amy Riley-Gilbert

Amy Riley-Gilbert

Amy Riley Gilbert • Vibrant People of Elkhart County

Good things are worth waiting for and today’s Vibrant Person, Amy Riley-Gilbert is most definitely worth the wait!!!


Kind. Compassionate. Genuine. Loving. Caring. Giving. These are some of the words that are used freely when people describe Amy Riley-Gilbert for us. They also tell us Amy is a “strong advocate for children,” “a willing volunteer,” and “meets no stranger.” Talking with Amy for just a few minutes and you realize she is all this plus joyous and loves being alive.

Last October, after 24 years, Amy stepped back from taking in foster children. All that time, she and husband, Charles worked through Oaklawn and took in the kids who were older. They wanted those who needed a good home in which they could feel supported and appreciated.
It was not always easy, but it was always worth the effort. However, it was time to step away.

Amy and Charles soon began to realize that they missed having someone to share their home with. “It just feels empty with no kids in it,” she tells us. That is why they plan to become a host home and offer a veteran of the U.S. military a place live.

Amy’s daughter, Melinda tells us, “She has an open door policy. She always told us she never turns anyone away because it could be an Angel testing us.”
Amy may have been tested, but she has also been blessed. We asked about her family and she says she has 40 grandchildren “when I include the babies of the foster kids and I have to do that.” She adds that she got a “double whammy” with the birth of twins a year ago.

Amy also practices something she calls “plant therapy.” “I have a house full of plants,” she explains. “When I go to the store, I look for the plants that need my help.” She buys them at a discounted price and nurtures them back to health. On a recent shopping trip, Amy was close to being overwhelmed with plants that needed her attention. “I bought so many I almost had to call Charles to bring the truck,” she says.

When talking with Amy, you realize her that love of life and those around her is strong and her faith in others is deep. All the while, you also recognize that everything she has told you has been with a wide smile. “I like to smile,” Amy says. “I love to laugh.” We also get the feeling that Amy can be a little feisty if she needs to. Even then, we think, the smile returns very quickly.