AM: Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.
T.C.: Hello All, I’m so honored and excited to be participating in this interview. I am just overwhelmed with humble feelings.
My name is TC. I was born and raised in the great state of New Jersey. I graduated from Orange High School and was a scholar athlete. I am the second oldest of 9 children. I am a disabled veteran that has recently retired from the Air Force after serving 20 years. I retired here on the beautiful island Guam.
I am a nationally certified victim advocate of 13 years and still continue to keep my training up to date. I have a degree in forensic psychology and I am currently attending the University of Guam to obtain a degree in counseling.
I have the heart, the desire, and the drive to learn what I need to make [Zokiahi Cares, Inc.] successful.
I love long walks on the beach…. hahaha just kidding. Most importantly I am a mom to 3 incredible children.
AM: What are you passionate about?
T.C.: I am passionate about so many things, helping people, animals, the environment, combating sexual assault, assisting sexual assault victims, helping families find viable, affordable, and stable childcare, and cherries. I am so passionate about cherries. Haha!! They are all my passions but my biggest passions are reflected in the projects Xokiahi Cares, Inc. supports and operates in order to help those within the Guam community and in the future, abroad.
AM: How did you come to start Xokiahi Cares?
T.C.: Xokiahi Cares was birthed because I have always provided meals, clothes, and other necessities to families and people in general.
I think I have always had Xokiahi Cares inside me.
I have always had a love for helping people and animals. I never met a person in need that didn’t touch my heart or make me want to help. I did great deeds and kept it a secret, funding them all. However, I realized my desires were bigger than I could do on my own. Which includes the 24hr childcare center that I am working to open here on Guam.
I believed that by creating a nonprofit, the community could work together to make this possible for those living within the community. I kept saying someone or some organization should do this or that; why don’t they do this or that? When no one did, I said to myself, I am that someone. I am the “they” I was talking about. I talked to a close friend of mine about it and she said,” You should really start that nonprofit.” I said,”I live in Guam, once I get out I will.” She said, “Do it now.” So, I did.
In March of 2011, I began the process to open a nonprofit, to be that light and center space that all could join or lead to a successful community. I began working it part- time around my military career and then after I retired, around my GS job. As of April of 2016, I realized I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I wanted to do what has always been in my heart. I began working the nonprofit fulltime and loving every minute of it.
AM: What does Xokiahi mean and how did you choose the name Xokiahi Cares?
T.C.: Xokiahi Cares is a combination of my children’s names. I equate Xokiahi Cares to the love, togetherness, family, support, confidence, and compassion I show them. Those things that a mother feels for her children, we want to relay that type of love and compassion to the community. What better way can we convey these feelings? These words do that for us.
AM: Please explain Xokiahi Cares’ mission.
T.C.: Xokiahi Cares is an unconventional nonprofit. We seek out those needs of the community and try to provide viable resources and solutions for them without holding anyone responsible, placing blame, or judging. We see a problem and a project is created to assist. Then we pass out the word to what we are doing and seek like-minded individuals to help. They come and volunteer and we move forward together to assist.
We call ourselves unconventional because we don’t specialize in one thing like Cancer, Homeless, Hungry, etc. Our focus is community. We touch lots of “one-things”. We assist in lots of “one-things”. We are there for the questions many are afraid to ask or even seek assistance for. We are the group that a lot of our client’s say was their last resort or only answer. For example, what group is out there that will assist with a few weeks of prescription medication, help provide laundry detergent, personal care items, or immunizations within 1-2 business days or sooner? Without making you feel embarrassed or irresponsible for asking? We do so much more, but these are some of the services we provide with no invasive questions asked. We believe that just asking was the hardest part, to be grilled and made to feel criminal sometimes adds to the embarrassment or fear of asking for help. We don’t say no, we say Yes but.
AM: I see that you do weekly outreaches and events. Please share about them.
T.C.: We have a weekly community feeding at the Dededo Mayor’s office where we provide an evening meal every Friday. It’s called Carers’ Kitchen. We have a no questions asked policy and we feed everyone including our volunteers. We don’t want to single anyone out or make anyone feel that they are too rich to eat or too poor not to. We have a community meal where everyone is on an equal plane. Many of our volunteers may have difficulties that we don’t know about so we want to ensure everyone eats worry free. We definitely don’t want those who come to eat, who are having a tough time, to feel any kind of separation. As a nonprofit we do things a little different when we feed. We have volunteers sign a registration form, we have volunteers sign in and out and we keep track of the number of guests we have and the meals served for each night. Those numbers help us to improve. Help us to track the number of meals we need on average and if we need to increase. It also shows a need for us to continue to do it.
We have numerous outreaches that we attend. Usually we link with another group or nonprofit that is doing an outreach. The majority of the time we bring our project, Angels Giving Soles, where we collect new and gently used shoes and give them to those who can fit them or request them through our office and Angel Heart Bags, these are small bags which are filled with deodorant, shampoo, body wash, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, Q-tips, shaving cream, razors, and things of that nature.
We seek out these things and look to where we can be of help. We have worked with some pretty amazing organizations and we will continue to do so. No matter what they do, we will always be a great asset.
People are sick? People have disabilities? People have hard times? People are homeless? We can provide personal care items, shoes, and food. The best part is, we are glad to do it.
AM: What’s been the greatest struggle running Xokiahi?
T.C.: Xokiahi Cares has 2 main struggles right now. Our first struggle is having enough volunteers who know what we are doing to help cover the population we assist and the reach we would like to have. So we seek to continue to find people who care about people. People care about many things and that’s what makes the world go round but finding people who care about what you care about can be a challenge and struggle. In addition, if they care about what you care about; many may find the dreams you have impossible so it scares them off. Our second struggle is money/resources to continue to serve the community the way we want. People care when you speak but often times, like I said they are too afraid to believe or they feel the goals are unreachable, so why help.
We continue to press through and we continue to focus. We have the strength to see through the smoke and that is what keeps our supporter’s attention. You have to celebrate one supporter the same way you celebrate 500 supporters. In times like these, we press the message of community support, helping others and that usually drowns out the scream of finances and keeps us focused. We work and we pray. We don’t stop. We don’t stop.
AM: What’s been the greatest moment so far, since starting Xokiahi Cares?
T.C.: The greatest moment is helping the large amount of people we do. The fact that people know our name and often seek to help us!! That is the greatest feeling one could ever have. Coming second are the great moments of talking to people and allowing them to hear about Xokiahi Cares. Them then seeing the things we do and the great effects it has on the community of Guam.
AM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
T.C.: In 5 years I see myself training, inspiring, and continuing to run Xokiahi Cares, but from an international perspective. This means we will have many valuable projects to build the community but they will be in the US, Guam, Japan, and anywhere we’re able to reach.
AM: We’ve chatted a bit and you’ve shared with me that you have big plans for Xokiahi Cares’ future; can you tell us a little about those goals?
T.C.: I have three main goals for Xokiahi Cares
1. Build and maintain a successful 24-hour childcare center here on Guam to assist the community. We want to assist the military community who have a 24-hour work day. Their mission and focus doesn’t end when the sun goes down, so a support system for them and their children shouldn’t either. This includes making a way for military spouses to have an opportunity to work when PCSing to Guam. We want to assist our island community who work in the hotels, hospitals, clubs, and airports (to name a few) to be able to find affordable and sustainable childcare as they are providing a service for the community in their own individual ways.
2. Build and enhance our sexual assault project to be able to assist those tourist who are victimized in the air and on the ocean during travel when arriving to Guam. Assisting them in being able to make sense of it all and give direction on how to seek and obtain answers, to begin healing.
3. To build a successful Xokiahi Cares footprint which will reach beyond Guam. Open doors for us to open other 24-hour childcare centers in the US and abroad.
AM: What book are you currently reading or what book would you recommend?
T.C.: Aside from my 3 school books and research material; I am reading and studying parts of a few books.
The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, Think and Grow Rich, and so many others. The books I pick to study are helping me to improve Xokiahi Cares and how we need to do business. With all of the things Xokiahi Cares does, we need to work on a plan to keep them all moving forward. We need to work on an original plan to make them all work together to build the community. Set a footprint.
I will say that there are so many books out there that were suggested to me but not helpful. I had to figure out what I wanted for the organization and what that meant to me. I had to learn my own lessons and make my own footprint forward. I’m not saying that I am reinventing the wheel. I am just finding out what color wheel is best for my “ride”.
Mistakes build you. Never forget that.
Focus on your own desires. Learn from others’ mistakes. Don’t try so hard to avoid mistakes that you make much bigger ones. You have to be happy with you and what you want for your dream. I also believe not to measure yourself in money. Money will come but do what is right and what makes you honorable. If you have to steal and cheat, think twice.
AM: What do you do for fun?
T.C.: Believe it or not for fun, I watch cartoons. It relaxes me. Sometimes I play board games with the family or take them out. But my fun time often comes in the late hours when there is quiet and I can relax. 2017 may bring some more fun as I meet other women and we schedule events with our women’s projects, but for now… cartoons it is. I also love the beach and some night life, not much, but some.
Thank you T.C. for sharing your heart. It’s clear that you’re passionate about Guam and the families you serve. What an honor to hear how it all came to be and the monumental goals you have planned for the upcoming years.
Are you in need? Do you know a family that is struggling? Give Xokiahi a call at 671-787-3622.
You can also discover more about Xokiahi Cares Inc. on their various social media channels.
Xokiahi Cares on Facebook
Follow on Instagram: @xokiahicaresinc
Join This Upcoming Xokiahi Cares Event:
Hidden Figures movie viewing and a meal event. Find out more and register here.
I had an awesome time last month at one of Xokiahi’s fundraising events. T.C. hosted a night of dancing to island jams, reggae, and soca, along with a large spread of authentic Jamaican food that had me on cloud nine! I hope you’re able to join us for this upcoming event.