By Curtis Egan
<em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>
<div class="alignright"><a href="http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/2010/writers/peter_king/01/03/mmqb/philip-rivers.jpg"><img title="Philip Rivers" src="http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/2010/writers/peter_king/01/03/mmqb/philip-rivers.jpg" alt="" width="153" height="204" /></a></div>
We have all seen the negative press that swirls around the National Football league (NFL) as of late. NFL stars doing things that give their teams, the league, and all organized sports in general a black eye. However with the Chargers have been lucky, while there is always some bad press, the Chargers have a number of players who give back to the community where and when they can. Steve Gregory, with his , SG Squad, Jeromey Clary with his Clary's Crew, Quentin Jammer with his Jammer Foundation, Jaques Cesaire with JC's Kids, and Luis Castillo with Castillo's Cargadores just to name some of them (<em>see <a href="../?p=5157" target="_blank">Hearts of Champions</a> for more information</em>).
Now throwing his name into the mix is none other than the elite Quarterback for the San Diego Charger, Philip Rivers. We have all heard what a down to earth guy Philip is. An NFL star who is known to drive a mini-van, wearing flannel shirts, and approaching the game and life with a contagious enthusiasm. He brings the same enthusiasm to <strong>THE RIVERS OF HOPE</strong> a foundation he and his wife Tiffany founded in order to help foster children throughout San Diego County.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ryan Altizer from the Rivers of Hope Foundation about this undertaking, and got some eye opening information. In San Diego County there are roughly about 4200 children in the foster care system a year. Of those around 1000 will never return to their families, the number of those adopted is around 600, leaving approximately 400 children in the system, bouncing from foster family to foster family. The Rivers family intends to bring the number of children left in the system down.
No one who knows even the basic information could question that Philip and Tiffany love children, they have five of their own. But that they are willing to give their time, money and energies for children they don't even know can attest to the caliber of people we are discussing here.
The Rivers of Hope Foundations describe their mission as this "<em>To help unwanted, abandoned and orphaned children find permanent loving homes and their own sense of self-worth. We do this by developing and coordinating resources and programs to create community awareness, recruit adoptive families, provide financial aid for adoption and assistance for foster children and orphans.
Hundreds of thousands of children all over the United States find themselves unwanted, alone and abandoned. Worst of all, they find themselves without hope or any sense of self-worth. At Rivers of Hope, we work with organizations, partners and individuals to develop a network of resources and programs designed to bring hope back to these children. This includes the recruitment of prospective parents, working with agencies to make the process easier for those who want to adopt, and giving foster children opportunities and resources to grow as young people. Together, we strive to provide those in need of a full, loving family several paths, or "rivers", to the hope they so desperately need.</em>"
There will be three major programs in the foundation; Rivers of Hope Birthday Club, Something Special Fund, The Heart Gallery:
<strong>Rivers of Hope Birthday Club</strong>
The fact that so many children are in foster homes or other shelters can make a birthday for these young people a very lonely and hard time. The Rivers of Hope Birthday Club will provide a card and gift to them on their day, so they know they are not forgotten.
<strong>Something Special Fund</strong>
There are unfortunate times in the lives of foster kids, where they need some funding for something and they cannot get it. Be it that the foster parents cannot provide it or will not provide it. The Rivers of Hope foundation will assist in these situations by providing funds to these kids so they don't miss out on some of the important events in their lives.
<strong>The Heart Gallery</strong>
This is a traveling photographic exhibit created to find children in foster care permanent, loving families. The Heart Gallery of America is a collaborative project of over 120 Heart Galleries across the United States (and growing) designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in our community.
Rivers of Hope funds the San Diego chapter of The Heart Gallery, and works with San Diego County Adoptions and other organizations to find events and other opportunities to display photos of children in San Diego County in need of loving families.
Now I know many of the rabid Charger fans out there want more than anything else to see Philip Rivers hoist the Lombardi trophy over his head. But based on many years of interacting with a number of fans, the most rabid fan also wants a player who is an ambassador to the community, one who can make them feel proud to wear their jersey, not only on the field but off.
I don't see how any fan can look at The Rivers of Hope Foundation and not feel pride for what Philip Rivers and his family are doing. They are taking a portion of our population that is so easily over looked and giving them the hand up, and when needed the hug they deserve as human beings.
You can find out more about The Rivers of Hope Foundation at <a href="http://riversofhopefoundation.com/" target="_blank">http://riversofhopefoundation.com/</a>. Also note that to support the Foundation, Philip will be holding his first football camp for youth on July 10 and 11, at UC San Diego NCRA Fields - San Diego, CA. You can find information out on this camp at <a href="http://riversofhopefoundation.com/events.php?id=3" target="_blank">http://riversofhopefoundation.com/events.php?id=3</a>
Rest assured Charger fans, we have the rare combination of star athlete, down to earth human, and caring citizen in the starting Quarterback for the San Diego Chargers. He provides pride to all his fans on and off of the field, and now, with this foundation helps those that truly need help.
Thank you Philip and Tiffany for all you do for the people of San Diego County.