Kathy Ireland’s “911 For Kids”

After all these years, I got to meet my Twitter friend Kathy Ireland.
My husband and I were honored to meet Kathy and her awesome team at Kathy Ireland’s 28th Annual 911 For Kids / A.E.F.K Children’s Holiday Celebration.

It’s such a blessed event where children enjoy a day of fun activities, food, entertainment, many gifts and a photo with Santa and Kathy.

https://twitter.com/JonCarrasco/status/409382550440640513

What a great way for the kids and their families to kick off the holiday season!

https://twitter.com/JonCarrasco/status/409414364567834624Kathy Ireland’s son Erik Ireland Olsen and Madeleine Meyer, singing Christmas songs at the holiday celebration.

https://twitter.com/Stephen90069/status/409428911752110080Kathy Ireland, escorting Santa and Mrs Clause into waiting children at the holiday party.

https://twitter.com/JonCarrasco/status/409432120407240704

Kathy and Santa
https://twitter.com/JonCarrasco/status/409389798927785984

Brittany Duncan and Brian Nguyen, kiWW®
This annual event is one of Kathy’s many charitable activities.

Kathy Ireland is a beautiful soul inside and out. Her charismatic persona is warm, powerful and inspiring (even after her long day).

Kathy wears many hats: She is a successful mother, designer, CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide® (kiWW®) and a devoted philanthropist with extensive charity work. After meeting Kathy in person, I’m convinced that knowing our priorities and following our passion is the cornerstone of building a successful life.

Kathy has true self-esteem. Her focus on others, makes her a successful person both in personal and business relationships.

If you ask me what is my happiest moment of 2013? Without hesitation, it was meeting Kathy and her wonderful team members. I was overwhelmed by their love, warmth and kindness which will remain in my heart forever.

Thank you for everything, Kathy and Team. Merry Christmas!

PHOTO CREDITS: Jon Carrasco and Stephen Roseberry

Please Follow Kathy Ireland and Her Team on Twitter:

Kathy Ireland , CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide®
Jon Carrasco,Global Creative Director for Kathy Ireland Worldwide®
Stephen Roseberry, President and COO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide®
Steve Rosenblum , Executive Vice President Operations of Kathy Ireland Worldwide®
Ruben Torres, Kathy Ireland Worldwide® executive
Brittany Duncan, Visual Arts Manager of Kathy Ireland Worldwide®
Brian Nguyen, Marketing Manager and Administration Associate of Kathy Ireland Worldwide®
Andre Carthen, Kathy Ireland Worldwide® Design Ambassador, ‘the Fit Chef’
Nicholas Walker, Kathy Ireland Worldwide® Design Ambassador
Tommy Meharey, Works with kathy ireland Weddings
Christopher Spencer, Global Business Team Leader at Kathy Ireland Worldwide®

Visit: kathyireland.com/ and Find family, fashion, home, entertaining, outdoor, and wedding solutions with Kathy Ireland Worldwide®

 

Giving Gives Back

Give. Remember always to give. That is the thing that will make you grow.~ Dame Elizabeth Taylor

Everything on our planet has a purpose. Our lives have a purpose.

I’ve discovered that natural givers are always happy, no matter what.

My husband and I lead a simple life. However, we’re both generous people which is the building block in our relationship. We both enjoy helping whenever and however we can.

Yesterday, I was a little tired due to just a few hours sleep yet something profound happened which gave me such energy and filled my heart with joy. Something which made me think how our lives should be about giving and reaching out to others. We donated an item to a kind soul. When this kind soul reciprocated our act of giving with the utmost kindness, my entire being was, once again, filled with the most powerful fuel: LOVE.
I noticed my husband’s joy as well.

“Giving becomes more important than getting because giving is in alignment with your purpose.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

Givers are always the miracle workers. When we focus on giving as our life purpose, we seem to receive more. It’s all about unconditional giving, with no expectations in return. If you do this, you’ve aligned yourself with the universe. You’re a miracle worker and more will come your way. Believe it!

Giving gives back. It fuels the universe.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: SHI

Make Wishes Come True

Love and compassion is at the core of giving. Giving back enriches all. I know I feel energized, fulfilled and happy when I give. Giving is indeed a beautiful experience.

A child suffering with serious illness is one of the saddest things in the world. Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® has given hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

One of these children is Erik “Electron Boy”. He wished to be a superhero. On World Wish Day® 2010, Erik transformed into Electron Boy. More than 350 people helped the Make-A-Wish Foundation® make Erik’s wish come true on this special day. Watch this video to see Erik’s wish, one of the many wishes, that was granted last year:

World Wish Day® 2010 – Erik’s wish to be a superhero

World Wish Day® 2011, a global celebration of wish granting, is coming up on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Please visit Ways to Help: World Wish Day® and get involved in World Wish ® 2011. There is a variety of options for helping and giving.

Follow Make-A-Wish Foundation® on Twitter @MakeAWish and “like” on Facebook at facebook.com/makeawish.

Everyone should get involved in supporting the World Wish Day campaign on April 29, 2011.

Spread the word!

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Love’s Journey

Love Without Boundaries is giving away a copy of Love’s Journey 2 (LJ2): The Red Thread to anyone who mentions LWB in a blog, on their Facebook page, or on another type of online social media.

LJ2 is a beautiful hard cover, coffee table style book filled with hundreds of photos and stories about China and international adoption. I know because I have got one. After reading this awesome book packed with great stories and photos, all I could think of is international adoption.

Please find all the details here:
http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/loves_journey2.cfm

Take advantage of this offer now and give a copy to your family members or friends. A perfect holiday gift!

LOVE'S JOURNEY 2 The Red Thread

LOVE'S JOURNEY 2 The Red Thread

We can create a miracle in our world.

We must encourage International Adoption. Because we know it’s our job to accomplish.

Helping children after trauma

By Jonathan Wilson

Children around the world who suffer emotional trauma need our help.

In many places, trauma is not just from personal tragedy but due to conflict, poverty, disaster or discrimination.
Most of these children simply do not have access to adequate care.

OperationSAFE is working on a solution…
•Child-friendly resources that help children recover.
•Easily reproduced volunteer-run program
•Large scale screening allows professional counselors to focus on the most serious cases.

We are encouraged by the results we have seen…
In fifteen camps after the Great Sichuan Earthquake in China,
•Children opened up about the trauma they experienced
•Families welcomed counselors into their homes to receive more help
•Local authorities enthusiastically invited teams back to hold follow-up camps.

For many of these children the OperationSAFE camp was “the most fun I have EVER had!”

But we need your help…
•Become a fan on FB and Twitter and spread the word
•Give so we can make this available to children worldwide!
•Volunteer to translate, edit, train, teach, go!

You can become a fan here on Facebook, or follow me @operationSAFE on Twitter.

You can give through http://firstgiving.com/operationSAFE

You can volunteer by contacting us on Facebook or Twitter.

Pete’s Arctic Adventure: 1st draft animation trailer

Children learn that they are not alone through a game where they have to rely on someone else to help them.

BCC in NYC

Powerful relationships arise when individuals commit themselves to support, respect and love one another unconditionally. They can create miracles, not only for themselves but for others as well. They can create networks and foundations to help the voiceless and those in need. Simply because with unconditional love there are no limits. Only unlimited possibilities.

Rich or Poor. Influential or Voiceless. We are all connected.

Black Card Circle®, a global social network, a secure and legitimate environment, brings together socially and financially influential people; “CIAs: Connectors, Influencers, and Alphas” as the founder Mr. Lotay Yang describes.

Unlike other social networks, Black Card Circle® members are carefully screened and verified. The network is committed to upholding and embracing the core values of Black Card Circle®.

Mr. Yang, says: “If we don’t speak for the voiceless, then who will?”

The mission is to empower the voiceless in society by promoting self-reliance and sustainability.

Black Card Circle® launches on 9.9.09 in New York.

This is an intimate evening mixer featuring the magnificent art of Bettina Werner, fabulous wine from OneHope, and a special presentation from new media leader Mr. Mike Prasad.

“Live well with purpose…”

“Live well with purpose…”

Join The Black Card Circle® in New York
Date: Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Time: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Private Art Loft across from the NYSE on Wall Street
Street: 15 Broad
City/Town: New York, NY

*You must RSVP * via http://bccnyc.eventbrite.com to be admitted.

Website: www.BlackCardCircle.com
Contact: lotay@blackcardcircle.com

To learn more about how Black Card Circle® & the Black Card Circle® Foundation work together, please visit Black Card Circle and Lotay Yang: Philanthropy Funded by a Sustainable Spirit.

Watch this powerful video. You’ll love it!

An Interesting discussion between Lotay Yang & Leo LaporteWhat is Black Card Circle?

Subscribe to this Blog

BCCF-A Voice For the Voiceless

“Only great souls know the grandeur there is in charity.”~Jacques BNigne

Philanthropy in Ancient Greek, means “to LOVE people.
Love opens our Heart to Kindness. When we truly Love the world rewards us. Love inspires Giving. It allows us to be selfless and reach out to help others in need. Some take it a step further like my dear friend, Mr. Lotay Yang, a brilliant and compassionate philanthropist, who founded The Black Card Circle® in 2005. Mr. Yang is the President of Black Card Circle®, a trusted and secure network for influential individuals worldwide, a network of “CIAs”: Connectors, Influencers and Alphas. BlackCardCircle.com launches on 9.9.09.

The Black Card Circle® Foundation (BCCF) is a 100% volunteer-supported public charity recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The Black Card Circle® Foundation(BCCF) allows the collective of conscious capitalists and influential individuals assembled by the Black Card Circle® to contribute substantially to the betterment of humanity globally, by raising awareness for and providing grants to non-profit organizations that serve one of the following 5 core areas:

1. Education
2. Environment
3. Health Care
4. Community Development
5. Poverty Relief

BCCF is supported primarily through the efforts and highly dedicated work of Black Card Circle® to make a difference and to empower the voiceless in society by promoting self-reliance and sustainability.

BCCF is a 100% volunteer organization. All net proceeds are donated directly to charity. The donations support BCCF’s grants, programs, fundraising activities, and beneficiary charities. BCCF’s executive team receives no compensation for their volunteer work. Donations to the Black Card Circle® Foundation (BCCF) are tax-deductible as permitted under law.

This Saturday, on August 15th, 2009 at 6:00 PM “A Spectacular Midsummer Night’s Cocktail Benefit” will be held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, California. This benefit raises awareness and funds for BCCF’s two partner non-profits: Autism Speaks (AutismSpeaks.org) and Touch of Love (TouchofLoveInternational.com). These non-profits are changing our world. Participants will have the privilege to meet Autism Speaks’ Executive Director, Touch of Love’s Founder, and ONEHOPE Wine’s CEO at this Black Tie Charity Event. It’s noteworthy to mention ONEHOPE Wine is a for-profit enterprise that donates 50% of profits to partner charities. 50% of ONEHOPE Wine‘s Cabernet Sauvignon profits are donated to the fight against AUTISM. As official sponsors of BCCF’s Cocktail Benefit this Saturday, ONEHOPE Wine is providing wine for the evening, a bottle of wine for each Tiffany & Co. gift bag, a Silent Auction item.

Mr. Lotay Yang in his own words: “Philanthropy isn’t about you or me… Philanthropy is about them… For the Black Card Circle Foundation, philanthropy is serving as a voice for the voiceless. On Saturday, help us raise awareness for children and families affected by… Autism. On Saturday, help us raise awareness for micro-lending in impoverished villages in Egypt. On Saturday, help us *help others*.. There is no failure in philanthropy. If but one life is touched, then we have made a difference.

You, too, can make a difference. You can join the Black Card Circle® Foundation cause on Facebook and help BCCF help the voiceless worldwide.

For more information please email BCCF at: info@blackcardcirclefoundation.org

Visit the Black Card Circle Foundation website at:
http://BlackCardCircleFoundation.org

Watch the fascinating video from the charity dinner on 7/16/09 in Santa Monica, CA: http://bit.ly/BCCFVideo

To learn more about how Black Card Circle® & the Black Card Circle® Foundation work together, please visit BusinessWeek’s Business Exchange for more information.

“To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.”~Oscar Wilde

Amy Eldridge and Karen Maunu: LWB

This is about two women I greatly admire. Two women whose boundless love for children would bring them together. Two most gracious and selfless women. This is about Amy Eldridge and Karen Maunu.

Karen & Amy

Karen & Amy

I am reminded of the inspiring words of Khalil Gibran. “When we give ourselves unconditionally, we truly give. When we give without expecting anything back, we are an unconditional giver.”

Amy and Karen are two unconditional givers.
I find their positive spirit to be contagious.

Not long ago, I had an online interview with Amy Eldridge, the founder of a nonprofit organization “Love Without Boundaries.“ I was already fascinated by her BIO on Twitter. She started with “I hope that people can see that anyone truly can make a difference in this world, if they just step out in faith to help those in need.”
My interview with Amy opened my eyes and my heart.

Amy -Unconditional Love

Amy -Unconditional Love

Amy’s world changed six years ago when she visited her first orphanage in China. Walking past metal baby cribs filled with abandoned children, she met a fragile, very sick little baby with heart disease. A baby named Kang. How devastating it must be to see a baby fighting for their life! Amy asked when the baby’s surgery would be, the response was: “no funds were available” to save this poor baby’s life.

Amy returned to the U.S. but couldn’t forget the images at the orphanage. She couldn’t get that baby’s face out of her mind. She knew she had to help that beautiful baby. While this little boy was facing an unknown future, Amy wrote to family and friends to help her with funding to save his life. She was blessed to have many wonderful family and friends that supported her. Those friends and family members passed her original letter on to others asking for support. The outpouring of support was simply amazing. Amy along with family members, friends, and friends of friends managed to raise sufficient funds to heal baby Kang.

There were other children with heart defects. Amy says thus the idea of establishing a foundation called “Love Without Boundaries“, dedicated to changing the lives of orphaned children in China, was formed.

Amy emphasizes adoption is such a blessing. She adopted two children from China. She says she cannot imagine her live without them.

When I met Karen Maunu on Twitter, I could feel her love and passion for children. I could sense her deep love and respect for her husband, who must be a wonderful man. You can ask anyone who knows Karen and you’ll hear the same. Karen was not always a stay at home mom. She was a successful career woman. After a while, she realized she didn’t find much meaning in pursuing a career in computer sciences. She wanted to dedicate herself to her family. She quit her job after her second child, to be a stay at home mom. She only wanted to be a loving wife and caring mom. She found meaning in life giving unconditionally to her family. I can feel her passion when Karen speaks about her children and her family.

Karen-Unconditional Love

Karen-Unconditional Love

Karen wanted to adopt and started researching many countries. This brought her and her husband to China where they adopted their daughter. Two years later, they were back in China to adopt one more child. During this trip, Karen and her husband visited the orphanage where their second adopted daughter was raised. The orphanage was full of beautiful children, all wanting to be hugged and loved. When they returned to the U.S., Karen was still thinking of the children she left behind.

Karen started doing research on the Internet. It didn’t take long before she found Amy Eldridge’s blog and later that year learned Amy had formed the non profit foundation: “Love Without Boundaries.” It didn’t take a long time before Karen was involved with LWB. They traveled to China together where Amy asked her to become the Medical Director of LWB. Karen and Amy found absolutely the best hospitals in China to make sure special needs children and children with heart defects get the best care. In spring 2009, Karen was promoted to Associate Executive Director.

Amy, Karen and dedicated LWB volunteers in many countries, have been working for the past six years, to provide the most loving and compassionate care to children whom otherwise would be waiting in their metal cribs, facing an uncertain future. LWB is a virtual foundation with over 150 volunteers. They have daily communication with LWB staff in China, through email and Skype. They also make trips to China to check on the children’s progress. They both say they have been blessed on those trips to meet so many incredible children who inspire them.

They have a good relationship with officials in China. They are grateful for those loving and compassionate people working at the orphanages.

LWB has 5 main program areas in China. The programs are run with the very best teachers, aunties and program managers.

The Medical Program provides heart surgeries, abdominal surgeries, and other life changing operations. LWB has several specific medical funds that people can donate to, such as heart surgery fund. This enables a child who needs an urgent surgery to be fully funded.

The Foster Care Program places children in a loving home.

The Education Program builds schools inside of orphanages, as well as providing funds for both high school and college.

The Healing Homes Program builds special facilities where most needy and vulnerable babies can receive care. The Cleft Healing Home Project is dear to their heart. In 2008, LWB opened the first Cleft Healing Home in China.

The Orphanage Assistance Program provides high quality formula, safe cribs, and warm clothes to those in need.

About 1500 children a year receive help and assistance from LWB.

Amy and Karen have much in common. Both adopted children from China. Both are passionate about the work they do for LWB. Both give unconditionally.

Amy and Karen work together to raise funds for LWB. Their goal is the same as when Amy started LWB to save more children’s lives. In Amy’s own words: “We want to change the lives of as many orphaned children as possible, in order to help as many of them find permanent homes through adoption as possible. Some of the new projects we are working on include a possible sixth orphanage school inside a large orphanage that has a lot of kids who can’t attend public school, a new Foster Care Program in rural southwestern China, another Cleft Healing Home so even more lives can be saved, and of course to continue healing as many children as possible through our medical program.”
And she adds: “We have a saying at LWB that “every time you save a child’ life…the world changes for the good.”

LWB is not an adoption agency but they work closely with adoption agencies because they believe each child deserves a home and a loving family.

Amy Eldridge and Karen Maunu remind us that it is only through giving that we are saving our own lives.

“Together, we really can change the world….one child at a time.” ~Amy Eldridge

Will you help these amazing kids to receive much needed medical care?

“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.”~John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Love Without Boundaries(LWB) is touching the lives of thousands of children in China. LWB cannot do this without your help.

LWB is listed as a Four Star Charity at Charity Navigator – Your Guide to Intelligent Giving.

By helping these amazing kids to get much needed urgent medical care, you are helping them to have a healthy life and increase their chances to be adopted. Every child deserves a home and a loving family.

Hi, my name is Erin

Hi, my name is Erin

Erin in Anhui was a very malnourished little girl when LWB first met her. Since then she has been receiving special care at the LWB’s Heartbridge Healing Unit. She is one of the many adorable kids waiting on medical funding. Will you help Erin?

Hi, my name is Jin

Hi, my name is Jin


Jin in Anhui is a sweetheart (just look at her picture). She needs funding for the final stage of her hip surgery. Will you please help this sweet girl receive the urgent treatment she needs?

Hi, my name is Kirk

Hi, my name is Kirk


Kirk in Gansu makes you believe in miracles. He was born with a complex heart defect and seeing his smiling picture is a true miracle. Since 2008 he has been staying at LWB’s Heartbridge Unit. This amazing child needs one more surgery. Please consider helping this miracle child. He deserves to live!

These are only some of the many incredible children who need urgent medical help. Will you consider helping them?

My Interview with Amy

I requested Ms. Amy Eldridge to allow me to interview her. I am thrilled to share my interview with all of you. Amy is the founder of a nonprofit organizationLove Without Boundaries specializing in medical care, education, foster care, and nutrition for orphaned children in China.
LWB is a beautiful organization.

SHIRE: What a great pleasure to meet you on Twitter, Amy! I am forever thankful to Twitter for enlightening my world. You started a wonderful organization Love Without Boundaries.
What inspired and encouraged you? How did you do it?

AMY: I want to thank you so much for letting me have this chance to talk about our work, Shire. I hope that people can see that anyone truly can make a difference in this world, if they just step out in faith to help those in need.

Six years ago, my world changed forever when I walked into my first orphanage. I don’t think anyone can walk past row after row of metal baby cribs, filled with children who have been abandoned, and not be impacted. It was on that trip that I met a tiny baby boy who was struggling with heart disease. It was the first time I had ever seen a baby who was dying. He was so blue, and I naively asked when his surgery would be, only to learn that there weren’t funds available to save his life. When I came back to the US, it was impossible to put that beautiful child’s face out of my mind, and so I knew I had to try and help him. I wrote to family and friends, asking them to help me save his life, and the outpouring of support was simply amazing. People passed on my original letter to others, and we raised enough funds to not only heal baby Kang….but three other children with heart disease as well. It was through those initial surgeries that the idea of forming a foundation, dedicated to changing the lives of orphaned children, was formed. For the last six years, we have worked every day to provide the most loving and compassionate care possible to children in need, and we have watched LWB grow into a worldwide effort, with volunteers now in 7 countries.

SHIRE: How do you get the work done? How do you promote your Cause, both offline and online?

AMY: LWB is a virtual foundation, meaning that we have no main office. We have over 150 volunteers, who work off of their home computers. They help us find supporters, write reports to sponsors, arrange surgeries, check on the programs, etc. We have daily communication with our staff in China, through email and skype, and then we make trips to China as well to check on the children’s progress ourselves.

As far as letting others know of our work, we truly love social media.
We use Facebook Causes (and actually were blessed to win the Facebook charity challenge in 2008), Twitter, and Linked In. We have two blogs, an electronic newsletter, and then of course our main website. Offline, we do a lot of public speaking and talking with our supporters. I think that the reason we have been so successful is that we are able to show that we produce real results. And in today’s harder financial times, when someone makes a choice to give of their funds, they want to know it is really making a difference. And so we work really hard to make sure that people can see those results.

SHIRE: What programs does LWB run?

AMY: LWB has five main program areas. Each of them is vital, and I love that they all work together at times to provide a “whole child” approach, meaning that we try to meet all of the essential needs of a child in order for them to grow and thrive in the best way possible. Our medical program of course saves lives, by providing heart surgeries, abdominal surgeries, and other life changing operations. Our foster care program takes children out of an institutional setting and puts them into a loving home. Our education program builds schools inside of orphanages, as well as providing school funding for both high school and college. Our Healing Homes program builds special facilities where the sickest and most vulnerable babies can receive care, and our Orphanage Assistance program provides things such as high quality formula, safe cribs, and warm coats to those in need. In all, about 1500 children a year receive help from LWB.

SHIRE: How do you help fund vital surgeries to orphaned children in China?

AMY: When an orphanage calls us for help with a sick child, we post that child’s photo and basic information on our medical sponsorship website page, along with the amount needed for their operation. People can then donate any amount they are able to that child, and we keep updating the total amount needed. Once a child is fully funded for surgery, we move them immediately to the hospital and keep the donor updated on their progress. We follow the kids closely post surgery, and send sponsors updates at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months post-op. I am always the happiest when we can write to a sponsor and let them know that not only was the child’s life changed through their operation, but that they have then be chosen by a family through adoption. That is always the best news. We also have several specific medical funds that people can donate to, such as our preemie fund or our heart surgery fund. Sometimes a baby cannot wait on our website for surgery as it is truly a matter of immediate life or death, and these funds allow us to move children right away for urgent care.

SHIRE: What is the average age group of your key donors? Are they all located in the U.S.? or abroad as well?

AMY: One of the wonderful things I have seen is that LWB receives donations from every walk of life, which I believe is such a beautiful thing to know that so many people are coming together to help children in need. We have 5 year olds who give up getting birthday presents so the funds can go to babies in China. We have college students who raise funds through their sororities or fraternities. We have moms and dads, empty nesters, senior citizens. And people from all around the world have donated, from Sweden to Singapore and everywhere in between. We never take a single donation for granted. Each time I open an envelope with a note saying “may this donation help..”, I give thanks. I sure wish I could thank everyone in person, as none of our work would be possible without their kindness and generosity.

SHIRE: Do you often travel to China? Do you have a good relationship with the authorities in China?

AMY: I have been to China 26 times over the last decade. In the beginning, I was going 4-6 times a year to get the programs set up, but now with so many volunteers helping us, I go once a year now. I have been blessed on those trips to meet so many amazing children who inspire me every day. It certainly has put my own life in perspective, and has made me realize that every day we are given is a real gift.

I do have a good relationship with officials in China. One of the things that is very important to me is that we never go into a situation as a foreigner saying “you are doing this wrong”. The vast majority of people I have meet there who work in orphanages are such kind and loving people, and they want to help the children in their care so very much. But often times, in the poor, rural areas where we work….there simply aren’t the resources. When an entire area is living in poverty, you can’t judge someone because their orphaned children in that town are in need. We always practice compassion first and foremost, and work with local citizens to figure out ways to help and make a difference. Our programs are Chinese run in China, and we are blessed with the most amazing teachers, aunties, and program managers. I love when we can all work together in community to come up with real ways to change the lives of children.

SHIRE: Please tell me about the Cleft Healing Homes.

AMY: The Cleft Healing Homes are a project that is very near and dear to my heart. After working with children who were born with cleft lip and palate for many years, we realized that while many people think this might be a ‘simple’ birth defect just affecting the mouth…to an orphaned child, it can be a life threatening special need. Babies with cleft have a difficult time eating, and if you are a baby in a crowded institution, who can’t feed well, you quickly begin to lose weight and become failure to thrive. I have held far too many babies with cleft in orphanages who are sickly and weak due to not being able to receive one on one care that they need. And I don’t fault the aunties in an orphanage in any way. It can take up to 2 hours to feed a child with cleft one bottle, and if you have 20 babies to take care of in an orphanage, that just can’t happen easily.

So in 2008, LWB opened the first Cleft Healing Home in China, dedicated solely to the care of these vulnerable babies.

We bring the babies to a warm, safe environment and get them the one on one care they need, and the results have been remarkable. Babies who came to us tiny and malnourished quickly gained weight, and the babies were ready for their surgeries to repair their cleft in record time. Our Anhui home has had over 40 babies stay with us, and each of them is now a healthy, vibrant child either already adopted or in the process of having their paperwork prepared. We opened a second Cleft Healing Home in Henan province on June 1st of this year, and dream of a day where every province in China would have such a home. For unknown reasons, Asia has the highest incident of cleft of anywhere in the world, so these homes are truly needed.

One of our volunteers made a great video about these healing homes, which you can watch here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bBIEF-j7Jc

SHIRE: The LWB website shows children who need medical help/urgent medical help. Do you think it helps when people know exactly where their money is going so they feel comfortable donating?

AMY: I hope that our reporting to donors allows them to know what an impact they are making when they give to our medical program. We send pictures and reports, and really want people to connect with the children they are helping. We also do everything in our power to keep our overhead low. In 2008, it was under 8%, which I think for a foundation of our size is pretty remarkable. We have negotiated contracts with hospitals in China to get us the lowest surgery prices possible, while still making sure that we use the top hospitals and surgeons there. We treat every child having surgery as if they were our own child, and so we discuss the treatment plans with trusted physicians and staff, and we make sure that every child has a safe place to recover post-op.

SHIRE: It’s important for people to understand that if these incredible children do not get immediate medical help, they’ll die. What is the average cost of surgery, for instance a heart surgery in China?

AMY: That is the most difficult part of the work that I do. It is a horrible tragedy to me when any child dies as an orphan…alone and without ever having known what it means to be treasured in a family. But the reality is that 85% of the orphaned children in China have some sort of medical need, and so the need is just immense, and we always have a long waiting list of children needing help. We think and dream about these kids 24/7….and it is always so horrible to get the news that a child has passed away while waiting for surgery. A few months ago we lost four baby girls who had heart defects all in the same week due to a lack of funding, which was absolutely heartbreaking.

Heart surgery in China is the most expensive surgery. It costs between $5000 and $7000, which of course is far less than in the US. Heart surgeries are difficult for us to fund because of the higher cost, but we always want everyone to know that no donation is too small.
I remember hearing once on the news about someone who had spent $10,000 to eat a gold encrusted pizza in New York, and I actually started crying when I thought that two children’s lives could have been saved for that amount. I know $5000 is a lot of money….but when you think it can truly save the life of a child, that of course is something priceless.

We have a saying at LWB that every time you save a child’ life…the world changes for the good. I believe that with all of my heart.

SHIRE: What goals does LWB have this year and in the near future?

AMY: Our main goals remain the same today as they did when we first began. We want to change the lives of as many orphaned children as possible, in order to help as many of them find permanent homes through adoption as possible. Some of the new projects we are working on include a possible sixth orphanage school inside a large orphanage that has a lot of kids who can’t attend public school, a new foster care program in rural southwestern China, another cleft healing home so even more lives can be saved, and of course to continue healing as many children as possible through our medical program.

SHIRE: Now, I would like to know about adoptions. This is the ultimate goal, isn’t it? That each child finds a home because each child deserves a home.

How does LWB handle the adoptions? How do you go from Orphanage – Foster Home to Adoption?

AMY: We are definitely all about adoption. I tell our volunteers that no humanitarian aid program in the world can do as much for an orphaned child as simply having them find a family to CHERISH them. A family changes everything for an orphan. That child then has someone to encourage them, to believe in them, and of course to love them. That child then has an unlimited future. So all of our program areas work to get as many children ready for adoption as possible, and we work with orphanages to advocate for these children to have that chance. The way the adoption program works is that an orphanage will prepare a child’s adoption file, and then they send that file to the national government office for adoption in Beijing. They then place the child’s file with adoption agencies, such as those in the US, and then families who wish to adopt from China can be matched with a child.

LWB is not an adoption agency, but we work with agencies to advocate for adoption and to make sure as many children as possible in Chinese orphanages are given that chance.

While the Non Special Needs path to adopt a baby from China has slowed to a many year wait, families who are open to adopting children with medical needs (both repaired and unrepaired) can adopt a child in 9-12 months. When I adopted my last son TJ, who was born missing the lower part of his right arm, the entire process start to finish took 10 months. Every month so many files of children with medical needs are returned to China unchosen, which is just so sad to me because these children are SO amazing. I think many people hear the term “special needs” adoption and are afraid, but if they look more closely at the program, they will quickly see that the vast majority of the children who are classified as “special needs” are beautiful, incredible kids who just need someone to love them. Many of the children have already had their surgeries, many others have conditions that don’t affect their physical health in any way (such as limb differences), while others are on the list solely because they are older children. Lots of other children will require medical care here in the US, but most will lead very healthy lives with care. There are also amazing kids with more moderate special needs who are waiting for a home as well.

I know it can seem like an overwhelming task to adopt internationally, but if you take it just one step at a time, before you know it you can be home with a wonderful, beautiful baby or older child.

Adoption is such a blessing. If anyone is interested in more information, they can contact us at any time. I am blessed to have seven children, two from China, and I cannot imagine my lives without them!

SHIRE: The Twitter Family has a big heart. I trust there will be many key donations via Twitter. Please share any links, any useful info for promoting the LWB cause.

AMY: Some of our favorite spots to get more information include:

http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com (click on “sponsor a child” if you wish to help a child in need)

http://www.lwbblog.com (our main blog)

LWBBanner

http://www.causes.com/lwb (Facebook)

On Twitter we have @chinalwb @KarenMaunu_LWB and @amyeldridgelwb

Pictures on Twitter are loaded to:
http://www.twitpic.com/photos/amyeldridgelwb

http://www.lifeofgiving.blogspot.com (our blog on adoption and living a life of kindness)

I want to thank you again for this wonderful opportunity to let others know about the work we are doing in China. Together, we really can change the world….one child at a time.

SHIRE: Thank you for all you do for the children, Amy.

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”~Kahlil Gibran