By Joycelyne Fadojutimi
Theresa Guck refers to her beloved husband Steve as her “soulmate, best friend, supporter, and loving and kind man.” He is always there for her in unconditional love and support, keeping her grounded in reality and patience. They make a great team, and this is nothing new for her.
Theresa learned the value of personal strength, kindness, and compassion from her dear mother Rosela, who taught her how helping others by giving without taking anything in return is a blessing both ways. Her words were powerful and heartfelt.
“Inday (precious one), our small sari-sari store isn’t only for us, but for those around us, and we’re lucky to have this as our source of income,” Rosela would say. “You don’t have to be rich to help others and share with them simple pleasures that they cannot afford.”
Rosela would share food and money with those who were hungry and sick and could not afford medicine. She would drive so many neighborhood children to church on Sunday mornings that her fellow parishioners thought she was running an orphanage.
“No one did this for me when I was younger,” said Rosela. “Now that I can afford it, I wanted to share my blessings as it gives me so much joy.”
Nowadays Theresa, Steve and their children Yoshiko, Christopher, Stephanie, and Matthew are still following this Christlike example. Yoshiko was a student at the University of Texas at Austin when she founded Curatio Mundi. This small, non-profit operation’s objective is to provide the less fortunate with healthcare and education.
Christopher, meanwhile, started an initiative he calls the HEARTS Club while he was still in high school. HEARTS stands for Helping the Elderly Through Arts. It is totally non-exclusive, being open to all high school students. Once monthly its members tour one local nursing facility and perform activities that promote the residents’ cognitive skills.
Youngest son Matthew established the CUPID PROJECT with the aim of spreading love through the distribution of greeting cards, which it delivers to nursing homes, homeless shelters, and hospitals. This program has proved so successful that social media brought in participants from such distant points as the Philippines, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Dubai, and Serbia. Domestic participation has extended to Chicago, Florida, New York, and Missouri.
The Guck family also oversees Abyan Ko Ikaw (You Are My Friend,) which aids via food packages and gifts for underprivileged children in the Philippines, and the also-Filipino-oriented project Gugma sa Kabataan (Love for Kids), which concentrates on educating less-fortunate children and providing books and sundry school supplies.
“We are passionate about doing something for the community,” says Theresa. “I used to create murals for the schools, churches and animal shelters for free.”
She even found time to instruct area girls in how to become empowered and exert their strength in helping others. Among her students in this initiative are Miss Philippines Texas 2019 and Miss Iloilo Tourism Philippines 2018.
In keeping with its service-oriented philosophy, the Guck family has taken in foreign exchange students from Kazakhstan and Serbia, encouraging these Eastern Europeans to join such organizations as the Venture Club (a Boys Scouts-sponsored outfit that teaches outdoor skills, communication and leadership), the non-profit AMBUCS, (which instructs in achieving mobility and independence), and Anchor Club International, to provide youth with opportunities to become involved in various community projects through volunteer work. Apart from her sparkling family examples, Theresa’s education pointed her in the direction of selfless service.
“I graduated from the University of San Augustin in Iloilo City, Philippines,” she says. “My Alma Mater, San Jose Catholic School, is a sister school of this university, and I am passionate in continuing my education while strengthening my faith.”
She also took classes in substitute teaching, jewelry designing and personal growth education to further refine her community service skills. While still in the Philippines she worked in the credit and collection office of an appliance company and interned in the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Iloilo City. Since relocating to Texas, she has continued her volunteering activities while also, as of late, being a stay-at-home mom.
Her love for children shone through earlier in East Texas as she served as a substitute teacher in the Longview Independent School District, School for Little Children, and St. Mary’s Catholic School.
“I also worked as the vendor appliance coordinator for Neiman Marcus but decided to quit working in order to help my daughter, Stephanie, pursue her dreams in singing, modeling and acting,” she says.
Theresa Guck recently organized the Celebration of Cultural Heritage. The event brought people of all races and different cultures to learn and enjoy each other.