About Us

EdPerez

Ed Perez

OUR FOUNDER

I believe in harvesting love. I was born into a loving family. My parents were landowners who sowed the fertile soils of La Maya, Cuba, growing sugar cane and coffee, which provided them with fruitful harvests that led to prosperity.

When I was only twelve, my idyllic life came to an end. I witnessed the end of the Batista regime when Fidel Castro attacked my hometown, witnessing violence all around me.

I recall La Maya was under siege for three days. You heard voices of people crying and saw bodies destroyed. The earth trembled; bombs all around. I’ll never forget the worst feeling of helplessness. You couldn’t run; You couldn’t stop it; You just stood there and hoped a bomb didn’t drop on top of you. My father was later incarcerated, and my mother was abused. In despair, I feared my family wouldn’t survive to see the next morning but God’s love prevailed.

My family almost lost hope of ever escaping Cuba, but sowing hope harvests love. In 1963, our lives changed, all because I my place of birth is Trenton, NJ. This fact saved my life and my family. The American Red Cross exchanged medical supplies for children who had been born in the United States and their parents. I was born while my parents were visiting Trenton, NJ and I lived there until I was three months old. The U.S. government granted my family asylum and on February 19, 1963 we arrived in Miami with nothing but the clothes on our backs. Fortunately, our church gave my family hope and assisted us in relocating to Baltimore, MD. While a blessing, life turned out to be a struggle for me, who neither spoke nor understood English. Fighting for survival and losing hope, I endured a life of poverty in the slums of Baltimore.

A valued mentorship provided me hope and played an important role in my life. While in middle school, a coach saw something more in me than just an angry youth. My coach’s words still ring in my ears: “Anger has positive and negative forces; it can be destructive or you can shepherd and guide it into things.”

My coach steered me into soccer, track, and martial arts. The skills I gained from my commitment to excelling in sports helped me not only to receive an athletic scholarship to a small college in Tennessee but provided me with a sense of accountability, a trait I deem important to my daily basis. I earned a degree in Business Administration, Economics, and Psychology in four years, while also working multiple jobs. This accomplishment validated my belief in the power of accountability. I secured a position with CSX where I worked for 42 years, holding various positions within the company.

Over the years, the hope to harvest love continued to grow within me and in 2016 I founded Three Grains of Rice Missions. The parable of the sower whose seeds fall on good soil to reap a bountiful harvest epitomizes my work. I tell my own parable about three grains of rice: “There are 21,000 grains in a sack of rice. Giving up 3 grains of rice throughout your life will sow hope to harvest love within us just as the grains of rice increase exponentially over a lifetime. I hope that others will sow their three grains of rice and join me in my mission to end homelessness, poverty and the impact while empowering women and assisting children in distress. I survived a life filled with these same hardships and desire to assist others just like I was assisted years before.

soccer-team-in-Cali-Columbia
photo of youth soccer players in Cali Columbia

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Debbie Bittner

CHAIR

A.J. Vaughn

VICE CHAIR

Shannon Scott

COUNSEL

Greg Toloczko

SECRETARY

Jacob Street

DIRECTOR

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

Jerry Mallot

RETIRED PRESIDENT
JAXUSA

Damon Olinto

DIVISION PRESIDENT & CEO
SYNOVUS BANK