LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - Former FBI agent, police officer, and hostage negotiator George Agovino has seen the good and the not so good.
"Seeing the worst times in people’s lives makes you appreciate what it is you're going to do and what you're doing," he told FOX 13 News.
Agovino's attitude doesn't exactly match up to the resume.
"It’s coming to work with a smile. When I had to be serious, I was serious. Like I told you, they'd always say, ‘Why don't you go be a firefighter, everyone loves a firefighter.’ I was like, great, you know," Agovino said.
While he says he misses his police work, he loves what he does now. This latest chapter started when he and his wife decided that they were going to be foster parents.
"We got a call at 11 o’clock to say that you’re licensed, you're going to be a foster parent. Sure, that’s great! At 11:20, we get called for our first child. What? Yeah, he's 18 months and he has developmental disabilities. OK. We got him and he was 10 months and has cerebral palsy," Agovino recalled. "We had nothing, weren't ready at all! Calling on friends, we went on Facebook, we did all that other stuff and said we're getting a child, does anybody have any [supplies]? Before we knew it, our entire foyer was full of clothes and a crib and all sorts of stuff and it was great. Once we did that for a while, me and my partner Josh, we were like ‘How many other people can we help who are fostering children that don't have anything?’"
So the foster parents became the creators of the Fostering Change Foster Closet in Pasco County, a place where anyone in need of anything can come and get it, free of charge.
For infants and toddlers, being taken out of the home and placed into foster care is one thing. What's truly eye-opening is the experience for those kids that are older.
"They don't want it to escalate the situation. It's, ‘Sorry you have to come, go get your things and here's a garbage bag’ and that’s what they do," Agovino continued. "Lots of times, they don’t remember everything. You're 10 years old and somebody hands you a garbage bag told you're being taken from your mom and dad or your grandmother or aunt or wherever you are. What do you take?"
That’s what the Foster Closet is for – necessities like toothbrushes, deodorant, shoes, and more. It's stocked with toys and will soon have a playground to get the kids’ minds off of everything.
The closet is also has something for kids to pick up that’s not on the shelves: Hope.
"We're going to make a difference in these children's lives and they are going to make a difference in the world and that’s what's it's about," Agovino insisted. "You cannot duplicate the excitement of a child, what they get when they find happiness."
LINK: For more information, visit fosteringchangecloset.com