Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Connect With a Wish. My name is Joy Rios, and I am the wife of Ralph Rios and the proud mother of three children we have adopted. My oldest child began her life in the care of a foster family in Virginia Beach until she came to us at about 10 days old. As a young mother-to-be, I was anxious about the care she was receiving. These fears were assuaged when we met the wonderful foster family that was taking care of her. From there, our family grew with two more adoptions. We have been blessed with a wonderful family through adoption. These experiences have brought me to my passion for wanting to give back to those in the foster care system.
I have been a sponsor for the Holiday Project for over 10 years. The Holiday Project is a program run by the City of Virginia Beach human services department. Each child in foster care is asked to make a Christmas list of 4-6 items. We work to get each child at least 4-5 items on their list. I began to involve the students in my children's classrooms about 9 years ago by educating them on foster care and collecting for the holiday project. Over the years my sponsorship to the Holiday Project has grown from involving my children's classrooms to the entire school of Saint John the Apostle and the entire religious education program (CCD). This year with the help of SJA and resources close to me we were able to grant the Christmas wishes of 154 children in the foster care system of Virginia Beach. You can read about my experience with the Holiday Project in 2013 in an article by Irene Bowers in the Beacon on 11/28/13. Read the follow-up story to the Holiday Project by Irene Bowers in November 2014 about the beginnings of Connect with a Wish.
I have known for some time now that I wanted to do more, and do it full time. After doing a few years of research and sharing my ideas, I came up with Connect With a Wish! Check out Kathy Van Mollekom's article about CWW from May 2017. I have since been awarded the Hope Humanitarian Award 2015 by the Salvation Army's Women's Auxiliary, the People Taking Action Award from News Channel 3, the Coastal VA Giving Back Award 2017, and an Exemplar Award 2017. Read Beverly Kidd's article about the presentation of News 3's People Taking Action Award. I was also recognized by the Human Services Department for outstanding and dedicated service to Virginia Beach Foster Care Children. I have been featured twice on 94.9 The Point with Woo-Woo and with Dale Murray. Check out the interviews below!
Thank you for learning more about this very worthy cause! Search our site for how you can help or contact us.
Joy Rios, Founder and CEO of CWW