She serves as the executive director of Help One Child that has served families in the South Bay and on the Peninsula for 26 years and now is expanding into Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
She and her husband, Matthew, also have been foster parents. Their first placement, a 7-year-old boy, had such emotional challenges from his traumatic upbringing that he routinely broke things in their home. He was moved to another placement when he started to threaten Valerie physically. They have cared for six foster children in their home after the first one.
In a keynote speech earlier this year to the Barnabas Group of the San Francisco Bay Area, she shared some stunning statistics after noting that the state is closing the group homes for foster children and looking for better situations.
* 63 percent of teen suicides come from single-parent homes. There are 18 million homes with no father figure present.
* 90 percent will become homeless or run away.
* 71 percent drop out of high school.
* Of the girls, between 60 and 80 percent will be sex trafficked.
Her organization partners with churches to serve foster families in two key ways: education and relationships. Both are critical to helping families serving foster children.
Education helps equip parents to get beyond how a child might be acting out or reacting to see how to help them and love them through the situation. Most foster children have been traumatized in their lives and have developed ways to cope.
The organization also trains volunteers to provide respite care or other services for foster families. When I heard another similar organization, Foster the Bay, present they suggested that each foster family should be surrounded by several aunts and uncles who could provide support in various ways.
The overall goal is to see families re-united and functional or to provide the child with a loving and supportive home that ideally leads to an adoption in a loving family or a stable long-term foster family.
It's significant work because, as the stats so sadly demonstrate, the current system does not work for its client -- the children.
Homebuilders design communities and homes to sell them to consumers. No sale -- no cash flow, and homebuilders don't get paid until the home closes.
At their core, they understand quality of life. It's notable that the San Francisco Business Times list of the top 25 residential builders in the Bay Area was dominated by offices in the Tri-Valley. The top six builders on the list all were headquartered in the Tri-Valley. It was eight of the top 10 and overall 16 out of the 25 on the list.
That's an impressive comment on where the people who build homes chose to live with their own families.