Community

Bellevue resident uses vacation to give back

For the past week, Bellevue-resident Maureen Francisco has been a long way from the spotlight.

The up-and-coming starlet has worked as a reporter and news anchor, appeared on the reality game show Solitary 3.0 and CBS's primetime game show Power of 10, and is the co-captain of the Boise Wildfire, a professional bikini football team.

When she's not busy chasing her dreams, she's helping others reach theirs by volunteering for Child United, a non-profit organization helping to bring education to children around the world. As a volunteer for Child United, Francisco flew half-way around the world to the Philippines to drop off clothes and supplies to children at the Hospicio de San Jose orphanage, the oldest charitable institution in the Philippines.

Born in the Philippines to humble beginnings, Francisco learned the value of education early on.

"We lived in a small house with 15 people and only one bathroom," she recalled. "It was very Slumdog Millionare. Luckily I had a wonderful family and a mother who always encouraged us to pursue education. I moved to the states when I was six and I vowed if I ever had the opportunity to give back to others, I would."

Francisco now works as the media director for Child United. She has volunteered with the organization since its launch two years ago by founder Christine Umayam.

"Christine went on vacation to the Philippines several years ago and when she returned, she had this new found passion," Francisco explained. "She had this idea that every time we go on vacation we should try to give back to those who are less fortunate in any way we can. Christine took her idea and turned it into Child United. She is truly inspiring."

Francisco's recent trip to the Philippines brought smiles to the children she met at the nearly two-hundred-year-old orphanage, a sanctuary for both orphaned children and abandoned elderly.

"Walking in there breaks your heart, but at the same time, to see the smiles on the kids faces when you hand out the toys and clothing is life changing," she said.

Due to the hefty cost of shipping overseas, Francisco was only able to bring two boxes of donations. She plans to travel back again next year.

"I had so many wonderful friends and people in the community who donated clothing and supplies for me to take, I wish I could have brought more but it cost too much," she explained. "Our next goal is to raise enough money to be able to fill a shipping crate with donations and ship it to the Philippines."

To learn more about Child United and ways to donate or volunteer, visit www.childunited.org.

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