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Not many people, if any, can say they’ve helped raise nearly 100 children. Then again, nobody is like Dorothy Perez. She recently made Parsons Presbyterian Manor her home after sharing her own home with dozens of foster children over the years.

“My husband, Manuel, and I had our four boys already, and they called us and needed a home that night for seven children. We grew from four to 11 overnight! We hadn’t even signed up to do it or anything. It just kind of fell into our laps,” said Dorothy. “We’d get kids in the middle of the night. Our door was always open. We ended up adopting a boy and two girls as well.” Even though they didn’t intend to become foster parents many times over, it’s really no surprise given their background and experience. “My grandparents really started the whole thing, I suppose. They took in a lot of children. And a lot of my family members have. I think we’re pretty unique in that way,” said Dorothy. Manuel, who passed away nine years ago, was a special education teacher, and had the passion and expertise to help many children who were going through hard times. “Manuel started at the state hospital, but they wanted a man in the high school, so he went there. And that’s when I had a pretty interesting job for a while, too,” said Dorothy. “The superintendent called me and said he had a job for me. He said I’d be off work the same days as the kids were home, because I’d be working in the school. I worked one-on-one with a boy who was blind and helped him around. He could play the piano beautifully and even played in Branson at one time.” So many blessings and interesting experiences have happened because of all the children they helped. And many of the children went on to be a part of Dorothy and Manuel’s lives even after they were grown. “When my mom passed away, a girl we’d fostered came to her funeral. She was living in Minnesota, so that was really special,” said Dorothy. And we have hosted foreign exchange students, too. One came from Japan, and he came to Manuel’s funeral. He spoke about his American father. It was very touching. Of course, back when he had gotten married, Manuel and I stood up with him at the ceremony.”

It’s no wonder Dorothy wanted to chronicle all of her experiences, and we’re thrilled to have her share her experiences with us here at Parsons Presbyterian Manor. Her book, “What I'm Going to Be When They Grow Up,” was written in 2015 and is available on

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