First American’s Volunteer Spotlight program recognizes employees who are active in their communities. Each month, employees record their volunteer hours, and one employee is selected at random to receive a donation to the charity of their choice.
Terri Moralez, a senior commerical escrow officer in San Jose, Calif., elected to donate $1,000 on behalf of First American to Through His Eyes Ministry (T.H.E.M.), a group dedicated to serving the homeless community in her community.
How did you get started with the T.H.E.M?
We started off as a few friends wanting to help the homeless, so we would get together one Friday night a month to make bag lunches. The next morning we would get up early and meet at Saint James Park in San Jose to hand out the lunches to the homeless that were sleeping in the park. We often felt like what we were doing just wasn’t enough, so we decided to do something more and on a bigger scale so T.H.E.M. (Through His Eyes Ministry) was born. The response of how many people wanted to join us was such a blessing and so much bigger than we had ever imagined. Our first project as a group was a blanket and sock drive. Now we have regular meetings and are always thinking and looking for new ways that we can help T.H.E.M.
What do you find most rewarding about your volunteer work?
The most rewarding part is seeing the smiles on people's faces and hearing how grateful that they are that we took the time to talk to them and provide them with items that they need. Most of the homeless are not looking for a hand out. All they really want is for people to talk to them and look them in the eyes.
What has surprised you most about your time with T.H.E.M.?
What surprises me the most is that most of the homeless community we see are just like you and me. They're just down on their luck. They lost their job which caused them to lose their homes or had a death in the family and couldn’t hang onto their homes. Some of them are on the streets because they choose to be and some have a mental illness that keeps them on the streets, but most of them are people just like you and me.
What do you hope to accomplish with T.H.E.M. in the future?
As our ministry grows, we hope to provide the necessary tools the homeless need to find employment, so that once they get off the streets, they can stay off of the streets. We would also like to find some housing opportunities for them. There are other areas across the United States that have Housing PODS for their homeless. We are just getting started so anything is possible.
What advice would you have for another First American employee who’s interested in donating his or her time?
Helping others is such a rewarding feeling. I would recommend that you find something that you are passionate about and give back to the community that you live in. There are so many ways you can volunteer. For those of you that live in San Jose, we will take all the help and resources we can get. Thank you so much First American for the generous donation. We will put those funds to good use to help T.H.E.M. get through this wet winter we are expecting.