New Orleans – Teri Hrabovsky often says that she hasn’t done anything “spectacular.” And yet she’s helped hundreds of children all across the state.
It started when Teri and her husband Brian were waiting to adopt a child. While they waited, they were asked if they would consider being foster parents. Their answer opened the door — their door– to foster children who were referred by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family services.
Some children stayed for months, others for just a day or two. But Teri noticed that most of these children would come into her home with nothing except the clothes they were wearing. No diapers or toys for the younger kids, and no toiletries, school supplies, or other essentials for the older kids. So Teri started collecting those things and more, filling each need as she encountered it, day after day, year after year. For most of us, it would be overwhelming.
“I think about the one that we can help,” she says, “and not think about all the ones that we can’t– or it seems like we can’t… We help the next one and the next one and I just try and stay focused on what’s before us.”
Today, Teri has a non-profit group called “One Heart NOLA,” and her husband and their five children all help out. They collect gently used clothing, bicycles, coloring books, tooth brushes, and even computers– anything that’s needed. They make frequent supply runs to the Department of Children and Family Services.
“We had two choices,” says Teri, “to get involved or to pretend like it didn’t exist, and we can’t do that.”
But Teri has an even greater goal. She hopes to see an apartment complex built for foster kids who’ve “aged out” of the state’s foster care program– young adults– who are struggling financially and need safe, affordable housing.
“I think all this can happen,” she says, “it may take years but we’re not quitting.”
More remarkable facts about Teri Hrabovsky:
What you wanted to be when you were growing up: A marine biologist
Education: Southeastern and UNO
Person who inspired you: My grandmother
Hobbies: Scuba diving and sky diving
Hours of sleep each night: 4 or 5
Motto: “When you don’t know what to do, err on the side of compassion.”