ESTHER ANDREWS

Daily Point of Light # 1838 Feb 19, 2001

Esther Andrews displays a genuine commitment and compassion for children and families. She is a gifted, dedicated and conscientious volunteer who finds time to do so much. She has lived a life of service and spent most of her years in community service whether it was in a professional capacity or as a volunteer.

For over 40 years, Esther Andrews has been a consistent and effective advocate on behalf of youth in the Riverside, California area. Beginning as an elementary school teacher in the 1960’s, Esther assisted the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) break down the barrier of segregation and as a result, opened up futures for many generations of minority children for years to come. She continued her groundbreaking work on behalf of children as Administrator of the Head Start for the RUSD for 15 years. Andrews has always approached her work as more than a job, taking personal responsibility for the well being of and education head start of thousands of children over the years. She has also been a role model for countless parents, especially teen parents, for whom she created some of the first and innovative school site childcare services. This program enabled hundreds of teen mothers to complete their high school degrees.

In addition to her work in education, Andrews has continued to support healthy child development through her volunteer work with the Family Service Association of Western Riverside County. As past chair, and life long champion of this community based nonprofit organization, her passion for community service has guided this agency to a 20-fold growth in services to children and families over the past 15 years. Expanding the original counseling services of the organization to include childcare, community centers, transportation, teen mother programs, and parenting, has fulfilled her dream of a full service, child and family service resource to the residents of Western Riverside County. Currently, the organization meets the needs of over 60,000 residents each year, with more than 60% of them being children.

A little over three years ago, Andews’ year of experience in education and community service were put to use on a national level when she was called upon by the Alliance for Children and Families to become a member of the Board of Directors. The Alliance represents over 400 human service agencies, with budgets in excess of $2 billion, serving five million people in 2000 communities. She sits on the Public Policy and Diversity committee also, where she is lending her expertise to increase the stability, and unleash the potential of children and families throughout the country.

Andrews credits her high level of passion to the needs of children and families to the values and presence of her parents who emigrated from Puerto Rico in the 1930’s with very little finances. They raised five children out of the depths of poverty to be fully productive first generation United States citizens, working as teachers, union leaders, medical technicians, and aerospace professionals. Esther Velez Andrews is a local and now national hero to many and will continue to be a staunch advocate for children and families.

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