I HAD the opportunity to spend some time with Shirley Perez.
She's a single mom, raising a family and working hard to move our visitor industry forward. The unique thing about Shirley is that she's welcomed four foster children into her home and adopted them, accepted them as her own and given them a loving, nurturing family – a new chance at life.
It's families like the Perez's that make our community so special. Shirley's love for her children reminds me of how great it is to be part of this island family – to know that there are people who care, people who will go out of their way, sacrifice comforts of their own life, to make a difference in the life of another.
While Shirley's four children have been given a chance at a new beginning, there are still more than 200 children on Guam who don't know the love, care, and comfort of parents and a home right now. Many are being cared for by great nonprofit organizations like Sanctuary Inc., the Alee Shelter or other group homes. But, these are simply temporary solutions to the much greater need for a family.
Fortunately, today there are about 30 families who joyfully welcome these children into their homes. They make them part of their own families. They give them love, feed them, clothe them, and try their best to give them a better life and a good education.
Many of these foster families don't have a lot of money. They work with the Foster Families Association and the Bureau of Social Services Administration at the Department of Public Health and Social Services to get some help. But, alas, there are only 30 licensed foster families and there are more than 200 children who need a family.
My wife has been involved with the Foster Families Association since early last year. In fact, she started the Rigalu Foundation partly to help foster families and children who need them. I'm proud to join Christine in this cause and ask you, my fellow Guamanians, to open your hearts and homes to these children. Take a chance. Find out how you can help make a difference for a child.
For those who don't have the time or resources to bring a child into your home, there are so many other ways that you can help. The Foster Families Association and the Rigalu Foundation are great organizations to help guide you to other ways to assist. You can help make sure these children have school uniforms for the upcoming school year or toys at Christmas. You can even help just by being there and sharing maybe even an hour a week to let a child know that people do care.
The worst kind of poverty is the loneliness and lovelessness of an abandoned child. You can help change that. Please, please call the First Lady or any of her colleagues at 475-9475, or the Bureau of Social Services Administration at 475-2672/2653 if you'd like more information, or if you'd like to help. You can also email Janice Sablan with the Rigalu Foundation at rigaluguam[at]gmail.com.