Daily Point of Light # 1735 Sep 27, 2000

Maria Placer was born in Valencia, Spain. Her father was a scholar and professor, and his love of freedom prompted him to move his family to the United States. Placer attended high school in Syracuse, N.Y., and earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Kentucky and the University of Southwestern Louisiana respectively. She has always been independent and began working at the age of 11 as a babysitter. Throughout her high school and college years, she was employed as a tutor and clerk at the university, and she spent her summers in Washington, D.C. working for the government as a clerk, translator, and interpreter.

In 1966, Placer began working at KLFY-TV, a CBS affiliate in Lafayette, La.. There, she worked her way from a station receptionist to head the traffic and continuity department. She joined the newsroom in 1970, where she again achieved the unprecedented; she worked her way up from office manager to vice president of the news. Placer is a determined and dedicated worker. She utilizes obstacles as opportunities as opposed to something negative. Throughout her career, she has used her positions to implement programs that highlight the plight of homeless, abused and neglected children, and find resources to help bring them happiness. Launching a daily public affairs program called “Concern,” she gave children’s needs a format and learned of the serious problem that has become a focus of her career. What began as a news assignment became a life-changing event.

Placer began to produce and air Wednesday’s Child in 1982. This served to bring to the public’s attention the countless children who were in need of homes. Wednesday’s Child is now synonymous with adoption in Acadiana. In addition to this program, she has helped to form and serve on the board of directors a unique support group for adoptive and foster parents. This provides the funds for counseling for the children, financial help including Christmas presents for the children and funding the expenses of developing experts on adoption available to the parents. She co-founded Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana, established the local chapter for “Child Find,” and was part of the formation of a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Task Force in her community, which has now gone nationwide.

Placer spends much of her working time providing, not just covering and exposing the child abuse and neglect problem. She meets privately with troubled families and dispenses information about the proper agencies to contact for further assistance. Her weekends are used to give public appearances at schools, churches, civic groups, conventions and workshops dealing with stopping child abuse. Personally, she has produced and aired more than 30 series dealing with child abuse and neglect. Placer was one of only 35 people nationwide to receive the prestigious Commissioner’s Award in Washington, DC for her efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Placer has given voice and recognition to a problem the children could not solve on their own. She wants the children that go through Wednesday’s Child to find security, love and a family. She has received many accolades for her work, but none as important as an invitation she received to a high school graduation with a picture and a notation on the outside of the envelope which read, “one of your Wednesday’s Children in 1988.”