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A Letter from the Lloyd Bridges Family

The Bridges family.
The Bridges family.

It was forty-five years ago that the Lloyd Bridges Family joined Foster Parents Plan. Our teenager, Beau, his younger brother, Jeff, and little sister, Lucinda, were growing up fast, with every advantage possible. My husband and I wanted them to realize there were other children in the world who weren't so lucky, who could use some help.

When we explained Foster Parents Plan to them, their interest was immediate.

"We get to pick our foster child!" exclaimed Lucinda. "Let's ask them for a little girl my age so we can write to one another."

"Why not get someone from the Philippines? We're studying about that in school," suggested Jeff.

"Does it cost much money?" Beau asked.

Each child answered positively when we were assigned our first foster child, Delia, who lived with her mother and five other children in Pasay City, the poorest section of Manila.

For a very modest monthly payment (I think it was only twenty dollars) we improved her life by guaranteeing her health care, giving her opportunity for education, as well as assisting her family and community find better ways to enrich their lives, giving them all the satisfaction of knowing that somewhere in the world there was a family that cared about them and wanted to help.

Our children began a correspondence with Delia that lasted for years. They were interested in learning about her life, so different from theirs. They enjoyed selecting gifts for her on birthdays and holidays. They enjoyed getting her pictures and sent theirs to her.

One day Lucinda asked why we couldn't go to visit Delia. No sooner did I explain why that was impossible when my husband and I were invited on a cruise to the South Pacific which had a brief stop in Manila.

It was an incredible chance for us to meet our foster child, and with the help of the local Foster Parents Plan workers she was there to greet us as the ship docked: a slim, barefoot little girl with luminous dark eyes. She hesitated but a moment then ran straight into our outstretched arms.

It was a very emotional experience for us both. Almost seven years had passed since we became "related".

There wasn't much time for our one-day visit, but we met the rest of Delia's family in the small one-room shack that was crowded among the other shabby structures on the muddy lanes of Pasay City.

On the walls of the room big nails served as hangers for their clothes. My eyes misted. One of them held Lucinda's blue cotton school uniform. Almost covering one other wall were many pictures of our family, who in a way had become their family.

Our "in person" report on Delia made a big impression on our family when we got back home. It proved that the work of Foster Parents Plan was proven and consistent, that it really counted when even a small effort by caring "haves" can make a better life for those who are "have-nots".

We continued our sponsorship of Delia until her adulthood. We arranged for her to attend business school in the hope that she would find a rewarding future, but she fell in love, got married, and her most important motives were totally changed and beyond our future influence.

Lots of time has passed. Foster Parents Plan has now become Plan USA. Our children now have families of their own, and each branch of the Bridges has a foster child to nurture.

Too few modern men and women are involved in a charity that offers them hands-on participation. There are many though, who do give more than just their money, and I'm proud to count my brood among them. I'm convinced that when my children were young, still at home, they were greatly influenced by Foster Parent Plan. It meant helping on a level they understood.

I'm sure they wouldn't want me to tell you about these things, but for years Beau has continually worked with under-privileged groups, and currently he's aiding the Navajo and Chumash Indians with their projects. Jeff is a Founder of the End Hunger Project, and devotes a hunk of his busy life to serving its aims. Our daughter, an artist, volunteered to teach art classes at juvenile detention schools.

Help your children to experience the actual joy of giving on a personal level, to have a sense of knowing who and why they are helping others. Wouldn't that make the world a better place?

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