Maria says her parents Eunice and Sargent Shriver have used their lives to make a difference in the world—Eunice founded the Special Olympics and Sargent helped start the Peace Corps and Head Start. Maria says her parents have always been excited about ideas, and anyone eating dinner with the Shrivers was subject to answering Sargent's favorite question: "What are you going to do to make a difference?"
"When you're asking about, you know, how mommy and daddy raised kids who were grateful," Maria says, "I think one of the things that my parents did is they put pictures all over our house. … Pictures of kids in Africa. Kids who were disabled, in institutions. And [mom] would explain why her work affected those children's lives and those families' lives. She would constantly talk about what we could do that might have an impact. So every Thursday, for example, she put a piggy bank on the table and said, 'I would normally be spending this amount of money for groceries but now we're putting the money in the piggy bank and you're eating cereal so I can send the money to Africa.' Now, she didn't realize that we liked eating the cereal—but she was constantly trying to talk about what was going on in the rest of the world to open our minds and let us know that we were lucky and that we should be grateful."