Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 2004
Social worker's story opens benefactor's heart, purse
By BILL GLEN
"You know, I never had children of my own. Now, I have."
But the anticipated Hawaiian donations did not happen and Lyons returned to the Philippines to say the shelter must close.
"But just as I said so, the telephone rang. It was my secretary from Hawaii. She told me a woman named Consuelo had left a message wanting to talk to me about a shelter for street children."
Lyons retuned to Hawaii to meet with Consuelo, a wealthy widow who wanted to know what was happening in the Philippines. When Lyons arrived for her appointment, she discovered the woman had invited the 25 members of the Philippine consulate.
Lyons took them out and showed them the poor children in Honolulu and said they were the same as the children she was trying to help in Manila.
"The following day, she (Consuelo) called and said she had my first US$15,000 cheque," Lyons said. "Consuelo then asked me what it cost to run a shelter for a year. I told her anywhere up to US$55,000. She told me she could manage that, and the Consuelo Foundation was born."
Established as a private operating foundation under U.S. law, the Hawaii-based foundation operates the Philippine programs either directly with its own staff or by contracting others. It does not solicit contributions for its programs and operations, nor does it consider unsolicited requests from individuals or organizations.
"After she saw how much these vulnerable children were being helped, she said to me, 'You know, I never had children of my own. Now, I have.' Consuelo told me she was glad to leave her will inherited from a large family company to help children in perpetuity," Lyons said.
"She had no idea how much money she was worth, but it was estimated at one-half billion dollars."
Although Consuelo was never a servant nor a leader, in the end she left something eternal. She died fulfilled, Lyons said.
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