As it celebrate its 50th year, the Tahanan Outreach Projects and Services Inc. (TOPS) is reintroducing itself as a learning center beginning School Year 2019-2020 to better serve the children and families around Sta. Ana, Manila.
“As we celebrate our golden year, we move on to meet new challenges. We would like to reinvent TOPS as a learning center, and implement new programs to be of better service to the community,” shares TOPS President Valerie Agrava, the grand niece of Justice Corazon “Rosy” Juliano Agrava, in a press conference held recently.
Currently, TOPS maintains its Liwanag ng Tahanan Headstart program for pre-schoolers (aged three to four), and free, computer-aided tutorial classes to assist high school students on English, Math and Science subjects.
“Scheduled to open next year, we will be putting up a formal school, starting with a kindergarten and work our way to the grade levels, in accordance with the DepEd (Department of Education) K to 12 curriculum, Agrava said.
“Moreover, TOPS will be helping learners with special needs by offering Special Education (SPED) classes,” she added.
“We want to continue to help children and those with special needs. SPED classes are very expensive and we saw that the area is lacking such classes. We want to address this situation at TOPS and remain relevant to the community,” she said.
A staunch advocate for children’s welfare and development, Agrava joined TOPS in 2000 as one of its Board of Trustees members, and formally took the reins as its president in 2017. A well-accomplished sales manager of several companies, as well as general manager of information technology-based service companies, Agrava utilized her managerial skills and raised funds for TOPS’ various programs right from the start.
With these new endeavors, Agrava is hopeful that donors will continue to support the shelter’s programs and operations, and that new donors will come in and help TOPS pursue the legacy of the late Justice Agrava.
The heart for children
In 1969, the late Justice Agrava led women lawyers from the Judicial and Domestic Relations Court in creating a shelter that operated on a principle of tracing the roots of juvenile delinquency and preventing it through comprehensive and integrated human development.
With this mission, TOPS was founded and proceeded to provide assistance to children as a civic organization that delivers youth-servicing and child care projects funded by concerned citizens, organizations, funding agencies and business corporations.
Initially, TOPS’ Silungan program gave shelter to street children and minors who are in trouble with the law. Later, the center expanded its goals and created the Liwanag ng Tahanan (Early Childhood Development Center) for the holistic development of pre-children in and around Sta. Ana, Manila.
“It was a beautiful sight seeing the fathers bringing their children to our school before they go to work and the mothers fetching their children at school’s dismissal, fostering a happy relationship between the students and their teachers and that of understanding between parents and teachers,” recalls lawyer Teresita Cruz Sison, one of the original board members of TOPS who recently retired as its treasurer at the age of 92.
To address the socioeconomic realities of street children in Sta. Ana, the Tuluyan program provided proper nutrition, basic education and spiritual and values formation. This program also reached out and served the street children in Dagonoy Market and San Andres Bukid, Manila.
For the parents, the capacity building programs helped through training that covered parenting, values formation and skills development, coaching on spiritual enhancement and marriage counselling. TOPS extended economic opportunities to the members of the community, as well.
At one point, TOPS was also able to implement a housing program in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines. Located in Las Piñas, Parañaque, a total of 140 housing units were distributed to family beneficiaries and some staff members.
According to Sison, Justice Agrava “put her heart and soul to have [TOPS] going.” Now, under the helm of a younger and more dynamic Agrava, TOPS is turning a new leaf as it vows to continue its legacy of providing shelter, service and education, primarily to Filipino children. Visit their new website https://topsincph.org/