by Susan West, CIC Faith Community Committee
“I want to do a mission,” said Isabella Perez to her mother one day after watching the Joyce Meyer television show. “Maybe I could go to India or Honduras.”
“Okay,” replied Veronica Lowry-Perez of Santa Rosa Beach, “but why don’t we find something closer to home.”
Isabella is seven years old. And Mom has become accustomed to her desire to serve. “Every year,” said Veronica, “she looks for a project. She has always been very tender-hearted and loving. She wants to inspire people to do things to help others.”
The project decided upon was a bake sale. The mission Isabella chose was Children In Crisis, a non-profit charity of caring people working together to provide homes and establish hope to the abused, abandoned, and neglected children of our community. When asked why she chose CIC, the diminutive second-grader with long shiny hair and a bright smile quickly replied, “Because I love God.”
The bake sale was an easy decision, as cooking in the Perez household is an important part of family life. Christmas gifts this year were all home-baked and hand-made items. And as the plan unfolded, it became a family affair.
Ismael and Sara Perez, who retired from the Air Force in 1987 and settled their family in Fort Walton Beach, were no strangers to community service. Having helped with many charity events, they took up the torch and drew their friends and neighbors into their granddaughter’s mission project. Isabella created flyers on her computer and, with her mom, visited stores and businesses to request baked goods. Isabella herself spoke to the managers, and unsurprisingly, no one turned her down! The outpouring of donations was way beyond their expectations.
“Isabella is such an exceptional child,” said Pastor Dayna Schaumann, Children’s Minister at Good News United Methodist Church in Santa Rosa Beach. “She is always the first child willing to do or give whatever she can.” Pastor Schaumann became a part of the effort, too, as she spent a Saturday evening helping the family to individually wrap each donated item – until 2:30 A.M.! The following day the bake sale took place after the morning the worship service and was a huge success. And because there were more baked goods than people, the remaining items were welcomed Monday morning in the teachers’ lounge at Isabella’s school.
The teachers of Butler Elementary school were happy to tip the scales in donations to assist their dedicated student in her mission. As Butler School Counselor Vivian Green noted, “When you meet this tiny little girl, you know you are meeting someone special.” Green also commented on how involved the children are in CIC’s Change For Children campaign. “Every year the big jugs come in and the children love to watch their coins go into it.”
Isabella first heard about Children In Crisis through Change For Children at her school and also through her church which supports CIC. Pastor Larry Greene told her that she could help children right here in her own community. And she did just that. “She is a spirit-filled girl – and we are expecting great things from her. God is working in her life,” said Pastor Greene.
At the Good News United Methodist Church morning worship service, Isabella presented a check for $500 to Walt Maine, Chairman of CIC’s Faith Community Committee, becoming the youngest contributor to The Children’s Neighborhood. When asked how she felt about this accomplishment, she replied, “Tired – but good.”
And what does she want to be when she grows up? A missionary – what else!
Isabella would like to thank the following for their donations:
- Winn Dixie
- Mrs. Fields Cookies
- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Facatory
- Fresh Market
- Krispy Kreme
- Cake Masters Bakery
- Pascalli Foods
- Good News United Methodist Church
- Family and Friends
Children in Crisis has many volunteer opportunities for the faith community to help support The Children’s Neighborhood:
- Invite the children to your church services
- Create a foster care ministry
- Host birthday parties for the children
- Host special activities involving the children of your church
- Join the CIC Benefit Concert Series
- Take Love offerings to help feed, clothe, and care for the children
- Mentor and tutor children
- Provide hope and change lives