This is what makes the world go round for me: Liberty Missouri to Guatemala

The concessions store in Guatemala.

The concessions store in Guatemala.

20150223_112415A few weeks ago, Chris Hoyt, national director, with NPH-Guatemala sent photos of the block building our supporters funded that is almost complete. It isn’t just any block building. This will serve as a small on-site store in the center of the NPH complex that will serve as training for the mentally disabled orphans. The children will learn to sell concessions to visitors and others store under the supervision of staff with the purpose that they will learn a trade to support themselves if needed someday.

This brings me great joy and I couldn’t wait to share. Especially since one or our board members inspired so many others around the country to help raise funds. Cory Scheer ran a marathon a month to call attention to safe shelter for orphans, then he organized a virtual 5k. Word spread, and soon the local grade schools in Liberty Missouri were organizing a 5k.

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Built with proceeds from Safe Haven Holiday Boutique.

The Gulu Girl Fence.

The Gulu Girl Fence.

I am so excited to share with Cory, the basic needs participants and the staff at Lewis and Clark Elementary. We can’t do it all, but we can all do something!

From St. Cloud MN to Gulu Girls Garden Fence in Uganda

Lacy Voight with Halo Foundation sent photos of the Gulu Girls Garden fence in Uganda funded by our Art Haven Holiday Boutique. The idea was to use our lovely second floor office in downtown St. Cloud Minnesota as an Art Gallery called Safe Haven Boutique. Ann Opatz would local ask artists to donate an art piece to help raise funds for a small project. This was the results of our first Safe Haven Holiday Boutique. It’s a small start, but a big beginning for the girls in Uganda.

300 Pounds of Love!

300 Pounds of Love!

And then there is the 300 pounds of beauty products worth $50,000 that arrived today. A skin care company, http://www.deluviausa.com , has donated the product and it was delivered today to our program consultant’s garage!

This came about because I use the product and reordered. While doing that, I inquired if they ever donated product to be used at silent auctions or fund raisers. I explained that the Angel of Mercy organization works with women and children affected with HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. I explained they have a beauty boutique from which the products are sold and proceeds used to pay for ongoing operations and staff salaries.

My idea was that we could use the product in silent auctions or Angel of Mercy could take it to Cameroon to sell out of their beauty store to sell the product and use the proceeds to pay for operations of the orphan home.

I was overwhelmed when I heard they were sending 18 boxes of product worth $50,000. Angel of Mercy is more than thrilled. President and director Relindis Moffor is beginning to fill a container with supplies for the orphan home and so, the beauty products will go to Cameroon this fall!

Supporters and participants helped with the Spring Fever 5K and we raised enough to send funds with Relindis on her trip to Cameroon so she can buy the transformer for running electricity to the site. She’s working on raising the remainder of the funds so the kids will be able to move in before Christmas.

eating placeFrom Fridley MN to Ashirvad in India.

The completion of the modern Dining Hall in India is getting underway. We’ve sent the first phase of funds to India that will continue the construction. The anticipated completion date is July. A small group, including Kim and Dan Anderson from the Twin Cities will travel to India to see the project first hand.

I’m excited to see what’s next!

When I set out to follow my heart and do something to help an orphan, I hoped my passion would have a ripple effect and it has. One of our missions is to facilitate ways for others to help orphans. We know many people want to do something to help, but don’t know where to start. So, as we help raise awareness of our partner’s needs our hope is that someone somewhere might embrace the vision, adopt a project and help complete it with donations or fund raising.

Kim Anderson learned about our work through her niece Nicole who is married to my nephew Jordan Hanson. Sounds complicated, but really it’s just how these things go. Nicole and her brother were adopted from India, so orphans held a special place in Kim’s heart. Kim had always wanted  to do something to help orphans, but didn’t know what she could do.  When Kim heard about our work, she knew it was a match made in heaven. Since, she’s mobilized friends and family to raise funds for dining hall for the Ashirvad Orphanage in India. Her friends and family donated time and money and organized the Dancing Hand in Hand Benefit held March 22 in Fridley MN. There was a henna artist, a live band, great food and traditional dancers. Here’s a sample of the talent we enjoyed.


The event was great fun and a success. The supporters, participants and volunteers helped raised more than $19,000 dollars that will more than complete the dining hall the kids at Ashirvad. We can’t wait to see the finished product. We’re beginning to distribute funds for the Dining Hall this week.

The success of this event brings a sense of satisfaction, but the joy on the faces of the volunteers, supporters and participants is what makes me happy. It is PURE JOY. These selfless volunteers know down deep in their hearts that the work they do, often tedious, sometimes outside their expertise, and at times stressful, is going to make the lives of orphans so much better. Now, instead of taking meals on the floor under a thatched roof, the kids will have a modern dining hall to enjoy. For the volunteers, knowing what all the effort, stress and work has created brings a bright smile from a full heart. That is the PURE JOY I see on the faces of our volunteers. God Bless the Children and those who are helping make their lives better.

Floriane Nibakure and me in Rwanda.

Floriane Nibakure and me in Rwanda.

Rebecca Welsh, founder of Halo Foundation in Kansas City.

Rebecca Welsh, founder of Halo Foundation in Kansas City.

Relindis and I at her fundraiser.

Relindis and I at her fundraiser.

Pastor Daniel and Mercy Kids in Kenya

Pastor Daniel and Mercy Kids in Kenya

Every now and then my heart is warmed during these cold winter days when I hear from one of our partners and how they are caring for the orphans.Our board member and fund raising coordinator Kim Anderson received an email from the founder and director of Ashirvad Orphanage outside of Tuni India. He shared how he and his wife opened their hearts and began to take in orphans…they now care for 93 in a modest complex. They aren’t independently wealthy, that’s not how it works. They need people like Kim and

Chris and staff the day we visited the site.

Chris and staff the day we visited the site.

200 Orphanages and Rebecca Welsh and Lacy Voight from Halo Foundation in Kansas City to raise funds to keep the kids healthy and growing. Others help them as well with day to day operations and support in building expansions when needed.

Then, there’s Relindis Moffor who started Angel of Mercy USA. She’s from Cameroon, but lives in Oakdale, MN. Her heart for the HIV/AIDS population in her home country led her to build a home for orphans infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. You should see that beautiful complex. It is soon to be home to up to 16 orphans, a care taker and staff who will help with day to day needs of the children.

Angel of Mercy Complex

Angel of Mercy Complex

Then, there’s Floriane Nibakure whose heart cried out after her country was ravaged by genocide. There were too many children taking care of children, orphans from brutality. The government gave her land and she began to build, step by step. She now has 19 children living at Nibakure Children’s Village in Rwanda.

Then, there is Chris Hoyt. He directs the NPH-Guatemala orphan home. I saw the kids loving him up when I was there last year. He welcomed each one into his arms, it was a Sunday afternoon and the kids were eating lunch. They hung by his side as he gave us a tour. They love him and its obvious he loves them. Tragedy just struck their home as one of their long time American volunteers was killed in a robbery. He and all the kids mourn, and we stand by them in their grief.

Then, there’s Pastor Daniel with Mercy Homes. He’s given his life to those in need in India and other countries as well. His work takes him to help the orphans, the elderly and the lepers. His vision is to give care to those who have no care and unfortunately the need is too great for just one man. So, he reaches out to us and others to help.

This is why we do what we do. We help them help them. My heart is broken and I know yours is too  when we see the needs. I know I’m not equipped to go and be there to help. So I do what I can from here, asking you to help. We build awareness and raise funds for them. I tell you what they need and on it goes. We’re making a direct impact in the lives of the children because of you. Thank you again! We can’t do it all, but we can all do something.

Next Blog: Supporters, Volunteers and Donors… (I’m stirred with gratitude!)

There is not a lot of wand waving going on around here… just day to day hard work and tireless effort by lots of people doing good on behalf of the orphans. This March, we have three fund raisers, March 20, 21 and 22.

Volunteers are making these happen, but we need sponsors and participants!

Safe Haven Benefit March 20 Downtown Art Crawl.

Safe Haven Benefit March 20 Downtown Art Crawl.

March 20: Safe Haven Benefit Boutique: The St. Cloud Downtown Art Crawl is March 20, so we’ll have original art work by local Artisans available and on display at our Safe Haven Benefit Boutique. Ann Opatz is organizing this and will be there to greet you. We’ll be raising funds for sustainability, crops or livestock.

Spring Fever 5K March 21, 9 a.m. Snap Fitness Downtown St. Cloud

Spring Fever 5K March 21, 9 a.m. Snap Fitness Downtown St. Cloud

March 21, Spring Fever Charity 5K: 9 a.m. at Snap Fitness in St. Cloud. Lori Fuchs, Rusty Deters and Kevin Hardy from Snap Fitness and EnduRUNce Shop are coordinating again. Proceeds will go toward bringing in electricity to Angel of Mercy.

March 22, 2015, Fridley 3-7 p.m. Two Stooges Sports Bar
March 22, 2015, Fridley 3-7 p.m. Two Stooges Sports Bar

March 22, 3-7 p.m. at Three Stooges Sports Bar we’ll be working toward funding a modern dining hall for our partner affiliate Ashirvad Orphanage in Tunis India.

Making good happen for orphans takes effort, planning, lots of support from volunteers and donors… and finally, execution by our partners on the ground in their home countries.

Angels Home for Orphans, 2015
Angels Home for Orphans, 2015

We’ve been working on this home for HIV/AIDS orphans for almost 5 years and what we’ve built is a secure complex with dormitory for 16 orphans and caretaker, an administration building, an outdoor kitchen and livestock pens all to provide long-term, self sustainability for orphan care for years to come.

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After resolving issues with old project, this is the new location of Mercy Homes in Kerala.

Mercy Homes; Donors have helped build a Mercy Home in India as well that is almost completed. Just a few more finishing touches and it will be completed. There were some complications on the home we originally were building with Mercy Homes. They recovered the funds and put them toward this home that will house six orphan girls in Kerala India.

Gulu Uganda Orphan girls' recipients of funds for a garden fence.

Gulu Uganda Orphan girls’ recipients of funds for a garden fence.

Proceeds from the Safe Haven Benefit boutique helped build a fence around the garden for the orphan girls Gulu Uganda.

Up Next: Electricity and a Generator for Angel of Mercy: Cameroon

JBFC: Additional classrooms or a chicken coop operation for sustainability: Tanzania

Modern Dining Hall Ashirvad Orphanage in India

See us waving that wand ferociously? ;-)

The needs are great… but you know what we say: We can’t do it all, but we can all do something!

New Things for 2015... A website and Logo.. Watch for it!

New Things for 2015…
A website and Logo..
Watch for it!

Happy Holidays!

I am taking a few minutes before New Year’s Eve to write a quick note filled with heartfelt gratitude to my favorite people.

If you’re reading this, you’re on my list!

You have meant so much to me in the work I set out to do 7 years ago on behalf of orphans. The vision has taken root because you and I deliberately choose to take one step toward raising funds and awareness to provide safe shelter for orphans. Because of your deliberate generosity and consistent support, we have the honor of providing orphans a safe place to call home. Well, the need is great and as we say, we can’t do it all, but we can all do something.

This work has not been an overnight success…actually, it takes effort every day… it’s an uphill sort of effort. And though we’ve not been a- 7 – year smash hit, by some standards, we have touched the lives of orphans who now have a sense of safety because of us. We move steady and sure… onward! That’s success in my book!

And, because of you, we’ve been able to fund more than $50,000 toward Angel of Mercy home in Cameroon. The last remaining effort is to get power to the site. We know there’ll be more incidentals, but for the most part, we’re well on our way to seeing kids living in their home in the next few months. We’ve funded $25,000 toward the Mercy Home, in spite of major obstacles and setbacks, making it ready to be home for 6 orphan girls. We’ve built a concession shed in Guatemala so disabled orphans can learn a trade. A generous donor funded 6 wells in India for one of our partners, two of those for a leper colony. Another underwriter funded a chicken coup in Tanzania and a guard house in Rwanda.

Today, we sent funds to help JBFC remodel their dining all, put windows on all their dorms, and build a shed so 43 orphan girls in their care will have somewhere to put their STUFF! You know girls! We’ve sent funds for the fence around the garden for the Gulu Girls home and funds to help the 6 orphan girls in Kerala India have a safe place to call home.

This year, you get to help us build a modern dining hall for orphans in India and more projects yet to be determined… So, in all the ways our work together touches and changes an orphan’s life, we …YOU… are a smashing success!

giveIf you so desire, and if you can, you can still donate online by clicking here. We appreciate any thoughtful gift!

 

Thank you and I wish you and yours all the best in 2015.

Jan

Your gifts of love help provide safe shelter for orphans.

Your gifts of love help provide safe shelter for orphans.

Love! In plain English, the best holiday gift is not a noun, but in our world, LOVE is the real thing: a verb.

Love is an action word and it’s why we do what we do, loving God and loving children in deed.

The girls in Rwanda in the T Shirts donors sent along.

The girls in Rwanda in the T Shirts donors sent along.

Gifts of love the verb take many forms in our world. These include helping move our mission forward in big or small ways. We’ve had RSVP volunteers stuff envelopes, we’ve had big and small kids in the classroom engage in our cause, some run marathons, create and donate works of art, some mobilize friends and families, some give money, some give services, some participate in our events some sponsor our events… the list goes on and one. All of these gifts are gifts of love to use. Verbs, (action words) not mere nouns.

Those who generously give time and talent are helping us build safety, shelter and sustainability of orphans. We can’t do it all, but we can all do something!

There are so many  who want to do something for an orphan and they’ve found us. That’s love in action!~ I love the holidays…don’t you? Happy Holidays to all our friends.

I only wonder what Love will bring in 2015.

 

Black Friday Deal For YOU!

Today, I have Thanksgiving on my mind. And like many others, I am counting my blessings and planning my Thanksgiving Day Menu. A lot of love and care will go into preparing the Thanksgiving Day meal. We have a tradition, like so many other families, to share what we are thankful for before we say grace and eat. With the sharing, there are tears mixed with loving words. We’ve been blessed with a large family and each one in our family is a treasure.

My heart of gratitude reaches even further since I started the mission to help provide orphans safe shelter and sustainability. I was compelled to start this work because I love my family so much. I can’t imagine a child at any age being left alone in this world. I knew there was something I could do to make their lives better, so this is my something.

And I know many of you have a heart for orphans too, as many of you have friended or followed our work. For all of you who have “liked” our pages and followed our “tweets,” I’m wondering if you can take the next step and participate in our Black Friday Event.

Send in a $50 or more donation online clicktodonate

to help us in our work starting Black Friday until Christmas, and we’ll will send you hand crafted felted mittens, a felted bird house or a neck warmer. Let’s try to make sure the orphans have a reason to celebrate Thanksgiving too!

mittens   WP_20141103_007 WP_20141101_012

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

piechart2014I find it so  amazing that it’s been almost 7 years since I started raising awareness and funds for building projects to better serve orphans.

Because of donors and volunteers, we’ve funded more than one project a year in our quest to one day touch to 200 Orphanages. So, I guess to accomplish our goal, I’ll have to live a long time… or quadruple my efforts! But, as legacies go, this work is supposed to outlast me. My desire to build something that lasts on behalf of orphans remains strong. Little by little, step by step we’re touching the lives of orphans in need.

So, here I am, seven years later and because donors, supporters and volunteers are catching the vision we’ve raised funds to build  family style orphan homes, security walls, dig clean water wells,  outdoor kitchens, even a concession store for vocational training for disabled orphans and livestock buildings. We’ve touched orphans at various organizations in Rwanda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, India, Haiti and Guatemala.

Truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect when I started this work. I just knew I needed to quit talking about doing something for orphans and actually DO SOMETHING ALREADY!  I yearned to put feet to my faith, and make a direct impact in the lives of orphans and this is the result. It isn’t saving the world, it wasn’t intended to. As we say, we can’t do it all, but we can all do something.

We’ve touched the lives of orphans… and the work goes on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If you’re going to fall,  try to fall forward. Then, get up and look around, brush yourself off and start again from there. When I hurled myself off the cliff, endeavoring to beat the odds, start a nonprofit during the Great Recession, my mission was to do what I could to serve orphan needs. There’s been a lot of first, fails and falls… but at least we’re falling forward. I knew the work would be hard, but it’s easy to put “hard” in perspective with orphan care. “Hard” is living each day as an orphan.

finishedlookangelofmercySo we continue the work.  All the successes we claim are because we haven’t given up and because  our supporters and volunteers share our passion to help orphans.  It’s because of our supporters that a handful of the 150 million orphans in the world have a safe place to call home. IMG_3338The need is great. We can’t do it all, but we can all do something.

Each day, each week, each month and each year we fall forward. We’ve been  raising awareness and funds to provide safety, shelter and sustainability for orphans for about 6 years.

We’re on the way to building our second orphan home, we’ve provided security with block walls and fences, and we’ve helped build sustainability with wells, outdoor kitchens and livestock buildings. IMG_0544All of this  so  orphans can have a safety, shelter and sustainability. And you get the benefit of knowing your funds made a direct impact in the life of an orphan. Your investment has real life returns.

And the smile on that child’s face? It’s because of you.

loveattention

 

I have the privilege of working with many talented and generous people. More examples of those practicing deliberate generosity. Today,  I’m introducing three dedicated individuals who each decided on their own they want to do something for orphans in need. They found us on volunteermatch.org as they sought out opportunities. Today they are making our mission their own. Each oneusing their talents and skills to help our partners build awareness and funds about building  projects that will better serve the orphans in their care. We can’t do it all but we can all do something.

They each took the next step after learning about what we do. They said… how can I help.

Diana Ricketson, Social Media Manager

Diana Ricketson, Social Media Manager

Diana Ricketson lives in Atlanta and her mission is to help make life better for orphans from right where she is. She’s engaging  her marketing and social networking skills to that end. Her heart and motivation inspires me. She lives for likes, so do us a favor… like our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/200Orphans

Dorie Lincoln

Dorie Lincoln, Web Designer

recent picture

Albert Hurt, Social Media Specialist

Dorie Lincoln also took the next step and connected with us when she heard about our mission. She’s  developing skills in coding and web design. Well, guess what we needed! Dorie is helping us enhance our image and soon we’ll see the results of her dedication and effort. She too has a heart for orphans and using her skills and talents to make the life of an orphan just a bit brighter. Watch for our new site in the next few months.

Albert Hur engaged with us almost two months ago and is intense about helping our cause through social networking. His goal is to engage our followers and friends and see results through making a greater impact building projects for the orphans. For him, results are in people pressing that GIVE button and following up with a donation!
Give Now

The best thing is, they all have embraced the vision and are doing what they can to make a difference. They are so much fun to work with I can only say thank you. Each one brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face. Our  virtual meetings are delightful and I can only see more orphans having safety, shelter and sustainability as a result.

We can’t do it all… but we can all do something.

Thank you Diana! Dorie! Albert. You rock.

 

 

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