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My Mom, myself and siblings in the 60s.

It’s almost Mother’s Day and truth be told, I’ve celebrated my share. This year, two of my daughters and I are taking a few hours to have lunch and browse the shops.

Long gone are the days when my kids bring me crafts from school. Two of my four daughters were born on or around Mother’s Day which made those days extra special. We’ve celebrated Mother’s Days and birthdays for years and now they’re mothers themselves and have their own Mother’s Day celebrations. So for me, Mother’s Day has come full circle.

Still, I celebrate being a Mom, but also honor my Mom, and my Grandmothers all who have passed on. It’s amazing the void I feel with them gone, especially when online florists remind me to buy flowers for them, even after all these years. But, the richness of their love for me remains, and today, instead of buying flowers from a florist, I plant flowers in my garden for them each spring. Having a memorial garden for them has been therapeutic and well, beautiful. I especially like my moonlight gardens where all the flowers are white Shasta Daisies, my Mom’s favorite flower.

And while I dig, water and plant the day away, I consider the work we do for the orphan. Most orphans are abandoned, or neglected, it makes me ever grateful that at least for most of my life I had a mother and grandmothers to love me, and care for me. Doing something for the orphan who is alone in this world helps me remember my Mom, and good fortune I’ve had.

So, the Mother’s Day Campaign for 200 Orphanages Worldwide is underway until June and it’s my hope that many will participate by donating. The campaign’s donations are applied to renovations of a home for 10 children in Kenya. Last year, we raised enough to help complete the renovation of another one of their homes. Now, that home is filled with happy, healthy children thanks to our donors.

This work makes me happy everyday, but especially on Mother’s Day!

If you want to donate or participate in caring for orphans in honor of your Mom, or a special woman in your life, Click The Button below.

Have a Blessed Mother’s Day and Remember the Orphan on her behalf!

windowinstall16What an amazing year we had in 2016 thanks to you. Best of all, our partners around the world and the children they serve have been blessed beyond measure because or YOU. I am touched so deeply because I feared the project requests in 2016 were almost insurmountable. But today I am overjoyed as many family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, even acquaintances were moved to help the children have safety, shelter and sustainability. In 2016 we exceeded the amount we set out to raise and got a start on other projects for 2017. I realize that we are all in this together-this desire to help orphans in need. That inspires me so much! I am filled with gratitude and motivated for 2017.

Last year donors contributed enough to send more than $80,000 to projects that serve orphans. More than $91,000 came in for projects and will be used as each donor designated. Thank you so much for your love for the orphans.

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How did this happen? YOU DID IT! So many longtime supporters continue to donate and gave more than ever to the needs of our partners as they provide safety, shelter and sustainability for orphans. I am so touched that so many continue to share the vision to help our partners care for the day to day needs of orphans in their care.

You rallied around our partners and helped replace a roof on a dining hall in Cambodia, buy not just one school bus, but two, one for Ashirvad in India and one for MyLifeSpeaks in Haiti. Both these bus projects mean the world to the kids. In Ashirvad, Raja and Sudha drive the bus with 100+ kids around as a family. They go to the beach, to school and on field trips as one very large family! In Haiti, volunteers, the life-blood of MylifeSpeaks, will use the bus to visit homes, take special needs orphans to medical appointments, training and more. The Ashirvad Children Home’s library is being finished off with tile on the floor and tables and chairs so kids can study and read in a comfortable quiet place. Soon we’ll be hearing about water in Burundi being accessible to the students, staff and surrounding community… and one day the orphans in the dormitory will be filled with laughing children. We have watched the windows and doors get installed on the dormitory and now we’re watching as the concrete is being poured for interior floors and walls. Step by step that dormitory will be completed. Just watch!

So, what’s next?

This year, the first quarter of 2017, we’re creating three small campaigns. One campaign will finish the dormitory in Burundi. We’ll need about $11,500. The next two projects are the tractor for $8,000 and a green house for $4,000 in Tanzania. images-duckduckgo-comThe campaigns, the Ty Tractor Campaign and Dylan Green House Project, will serve the JBFC Girls home in Tanzania. Agriculture is so important for sustainability in developing countries, and JBFC benefits greatly with their agricultural projects. Late last year, Ty and Dylan Irish, sons of Jeffrey Irish in Idaho, donated funds to the tractor and the Green House projects on our site.I feel compelled to get that tractor (8,000) and greenhouse ($4,000)  funded as soon as possible! You can help!

We’ll be reaching out to the rest of our partners shortly to learn of their needs in the coming year. We know one or more of their projects will tug on your heartstrings and we look forward to working with you to make life better for orphans all around the world.

Look out 2017… here we come!

 

nicoleandjordannimaSometimes it just takes one person to make a difference. We always say, “We Can’t Do It All, But We Can All Do Something.”

In the case of raising awareness and funds for Ashirvad Children’s Home in India, one person who started the ball rolling is Nicole Hanson, my niece in law. Nicole’s simple act of sharing a Facebook post started the ball rolling that would ultimately touch more than 100 orphans and vulnerable children in Ashirvad Children’s Home in India.

Nicole loves our cause and how we help orphans in need. When she learned that her husband Jordan was participating in our Golf 4 Orphan event a few years ago, she shared the event on her Facebook page. She was especially excited about the event when she learned we were raising funds for an orphan home in India. It touched her deeply.

Nicole’s passion for India’s vulnerable children is personal. She was born in India and as a small child, she was taken into an orphanage and then adopted by her family in Minnesota. She grew up in the U.S. and had the benefits of a strong loving family and  friends. When she met my nephew in high school, they fell in love and were married.

Because Nicole shared our event, her aunt, Kim Anderson, who also loves helping orphans became aware of 200 Orphanages. When Kim read Nicole’s post, she asked about us and the rest is history. Over the past two years, Kim and her husband Dan have built amazing teams and accomplished successful fund raising events with proceeds going to complete a dining hall,  a library, a steam kitchen and this year funds were raised to buy a school bus.

This past week, Kim and Dan hosted Ashirvad Directors and Founders Raja and Sudha Sekhar in their home. It was their first time in the U.S., made possible by a generous donor. The couple was able to meet some of the people in Minnesota who participated in helping them help their children.

 

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Nicole, Jordan and their lovely newborn baby Nima Rae were at the gathering. They were able to hear stories from Raja of how great an impact the fundraisers have made by perfect strangers far away. I was reminded as we shared a meal over stories that night at Kim and Dan’s how something seemingly small and inconsequential to us can make the world of difference to someone in need. By individuals like Nicole, Kim and countless others, doing what they can, we are able to help partners around the world provide orphans with safety, shelter and sustainability.

I can’t help but wonder, as Nicole sees the photos of the kids at Ashirvad flash across the screen, if she doesn’t somehow see herself and say a prayer of thanksgiving. I can see in their faces that she and Jordan are filled with gratitude, even Pure Joy as they enjoy their daughter surrounding her with a loving family and friends as well as loving souls from abroad.

Thank you Nicole for your heart to help the orphans. Thanks you everyone.

Some think the meaning of life is seeking happiness. Not sure I go along with that, only because the happiest people I know seek to serve others. It’s a mystery to some that selfless people radiate happiness all around them.  And who doesn’t love being around happy people!

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Selfless, happy CDI board of directors and wives.

In this journey, building an organization to make the lives of orphans brighter, I’m touched by the people I meet who selflessly work to make the lives of a child better. These are the happiest people I’ve ever met. And they’re all around me these days. Our partners, their staff, our donors, volunteers and supporters all radiate happiness out of full hearts that selflessly give to others.

From the beginning of this journey, one such person is Fred Cornforth, CEO of CDI in Boise Idaho has provided support, funds and guidance to our work. In our initial meeting Fred told me his dream to one day build 200 Orphanages. Thus, he coined our name! Not long after, Fred helped us make our very first funds disbursement to Haiti after the earthquake, he’s funded projects and administration expenses ever since.

Last weekend, my husband and I were invited to share the orphan work with the CDI board of directors. Each board member shared their own selfless work helping orphans and other organizations with time and talent over the years. Their stories of selflessness and unbridled love for the orphan might just explain their smiles!

I’m filled with gratitude to all those who selflessly give encouragement and support. I love being around happy people.

 

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!

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!

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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.

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