More Foster Care Families Needed

Never in a million years did I imagine that I would one day become a successful financial advisor and money coach at a leading investment firm.

The early years in my life were challenging, and many people doubted I would ever succeed. But someone opened their home and their heart to me, and that changed everything.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month, so I share my story in the hopes that others will think about the power they have to positively affect the lives of local children. And there are so many children in need across metro Detroit.

I’ll be on Woodward Avenue on April 29 to help The Children’s Center kick off a blue ribbon campaign for Foster Care Awareness. I want to encourage the public to think deeply about our at-risk children and all the ways they make a difference.

My story begins 47 years ago, when I was born to a mother who didn’t want me. She refused to hold me or even be near me, and this had massive ramifications on my early development. Unable to care for me, my mom gave me up for adoption.

It was hard to place me at the time because I was told I was “special needs.” I couldn’t walk or talk. But one day, a woman came into the Children’s Home where I was living and changed my entire world.

Her name was Frankie Perry, and she had already adopted a little boy from the center. The people working there tried to persuade her to adopt me as well, but it wasn’t until she heard God sending her a message, that she believed she was called to do it.

After she brought me home, she took me to our family physician to ask him about my physical predicament. He didn’t believe what everyone else had said – that I would never be able to walk or talk. He told my mom to take the braces off my legs. He told her to shower me with love. And sure enough, I was walking and talking within a year.

When I look back now, I see that as a turning point in my life. I knew I wanted to volunteer with kids in need and give back the love that I received.

For the past 18 years, I’ve run a Money Matters camp for kids. I’ve taught economic empowerment classes at Cody High School. I’ve developed a Facebook community that encourages kids to plan and save. It’s inspiring to see kids making smart decisions for their future.

As a senior director of investments for Oppenheimer, I don’t always have a lot of time, but I make time to pass on the values my mother taught me.

Providing children with a safe, healthy, loving home is the best investment that society can make.

Gail Perry-Mason is Senior Director-Investments at Oppenheimer & Co.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, email Shereen Allen-Youngblood or call (313) 262-1119.

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