The Hope Effect values education, self-discipline, work ethic, and service to others as essential foundations for kids to succeed in life. I was fortunate to be part of a large family growing up. There were 6 children—5 girls and me. My parents worked tirelessly to provide for us a roof over our heads, in a quiet neighborhood, with a good school just over the back fence. We were involved in sports, pushed to excel in school, raised to be independent, encouraged to work hard and contribute to our local community. As I reflect on my childhood it is easy to be amazed at what my parents accomplished. Each of us was so different and yet my parents ensured each child was treated as if we were the only one. In my younger years, I was pigeon toed. Instead of my feet facing perpendicular to my legs, they turned in causing me to walk funny and limiting my mobility. As a child, I remember the long drive to the specialty doctor and shoe store to get me outfitted with braces and undergo treatment. I never heard him complain about the cost or the time it took away from his day. Instead, he would tell me as I geared up that I could do anything I set my mind to. In so doing, he turned those negative circumstances into positive teaching opportunities. My dad is not one for sharing emotions, so I can’t know for sure. But I often wonder how he felt when I signed the papers accepting my Division 1 scholarship for cross country. I might have been born pigeon toed, but my parents must have known I was born to run. Without their efforts, who knows what my life would be like today. Like many of us, I took for granted most of what was afforded me as a child: parents, family, nutritious food to strengthen my growing body, a quality education, and access to health care and physical therapy. We often overlook the significance of these blessings—especially when they have been ours since birth. But if you are a parent, you know the sacrifices and the intentional choices you make every day to mold, develop, and steer your children into the best possible future. When a child is orphaned, often times, this part of parenting is lost. If an orphaned child is lucky, their basic needs will be met. But very few will reap the benefits that come from being in a family with parents who are doing everything they can to prepare them for the best possible future. That’s why, at The Hope Effect, one of our top values is to structure our care like a family. We are seeking to lovingly prepare children who enter our care with the same amount of effort each of us take with our own children. We seek to provide the best education possible, instill self discipline and a strong work ethic, secure the right healthcare each individual needs, and model the importance of living life in service to others. These are the foundational blessings needed to thrive in the future. And we seek to provide all of them for every child.
From the earliest days of The Hope Effect, we have had conversations surrounding the approach and quality we will pursue for our family style homes. We searched for words or phrases that would help clarify our intentions and set the bar high for our team and our future. As is often the case with brainstorming sessions, the list grew long and complicated. However, one simple question seemed to sum up our conversation: If any of our children were being cared for at one of our homes, would we be pleased with the care they are receiving? The answer to that question prompted six orphan care standards that would eventually define our values: 1) Family, 2) Excellence, 3) Spirituality, 4) Preparation, 5) Sustainability, and 6) Innovation. Over the next several weeks, we will expand on each standard in greater detail.
Because family is the most effective model for development, we seek to mimic the family in all strategies. Traditional orphan care solutions around the world too often function like “institutions” rather than “the family unit.” In order to maximize budgets and space, institutional care focuses on meeting basic physical needs. To be fair, they do this very well. While not the best solution, millions of children over the years have had their situations dramatically improved thanks to the generous and selfless work of orphanage directors and their supporters. They have helped children get off the streets, out of dangerous situations, and onto a better path for the future. However, in recent years, studies have shown the life long negative effects on children who are reared in an institutional setting. Therefore, given the choice, I could not imagine many parents who would want their children to only have their basic needs met in a larger institutional care situation. If my wife and I, God forbid, could no longer care for our kids, we would want their basic needs met, but more than that, we would want them to be part of a family! We would want our kids to be raised by people who would love them as they would their own biological children. We would want our kids to feel safe and secure. And we would hope our children’s uniqueness would be affirmed, strengths developed, and challenges helped to overcome. At The Hope Effect we are seeking to change the way the world cares for orphans by offering children the opportunity to be part of a family. Rather than constructing large buildings that house a high ratio of children to caregivers, we are building smaller, one-family size, structures. Each home will house six-eight orphaned children and two parents. In this way, we mimic the family in all orphan care solutions. Not only is this what we would want for our children, but a family is what every child needs and deserves.
They have finished setting the main trusses on the family home in Honduras. As the new school year begins, the interior of the home will begin completion.
Our Honduras project is progressing well in Siguatepeque and according to construction projections, should be complete this summer! Your generous donations made this home possible. Thank you. Douglas Barahona, the National Director in Honduras, reported that the concrete floor will be poured this week (mid-April). After the floor, we will begin to construct the walls with color block and install the metal roof structure. We are also beginning to import some of the materials not available in Siguatepeque for the interior. If everything goes as planned, the house should be complete by the end of June! The house parents will then move in shortly after to adjust to their new home before the children are placed with their family. We will continue to provide you with updates over the coming months as together, we provide homes for the vulnerable and change how the world cares for orphans.
In 1998, my family began to explore international adoption. Until we did, we were simply unaware of the overwhelming number of children in need of a family. We quickly began to realize the problem is greater than we imagined. We are not alone. Most people are shocked to discover there are 153 million orphans worldwide. According to UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), if orphans were a country of their own, the population would rank 9th in the world—ahead of Russia. How can this be? And why is nobody is talking about it? Part of the answer lies in the definition of the word: orphan. When most people hear the word, orphan, they think of children with no parents. This is certainly true. However, children with no parents comprise only 17% of the total number (26 million). More precisely, these children are referred to as “double orphans.” They have lost both parents to any number of possible reasons: war, disease, poverty, natural disasters, abandonment, and accidents are among the leading causes. The vast majority of orphans (83%) are classified as “single orphans,” denoting children who have lost at least one parent. They generally live with a remaining parent or a member of the extended family (grandparent, aunt, etc). Here in America, and other Western countries, we don’t regard children with one parent as an orphan, so why do UNICEF and other organizations use this classification? The broader definition of orphan began to be used in the mid-1990s. As AIDS began resulting in the deaths of millions of parents around the world, an increasing number of children were left without one or more parents. To help draw attention to this vulnerable group of children, many of whom lack support, resources, or opportunity, the terminology was created. But it has certainly caused confusion among the general public. At The Hope Effect, it is our desire to see every orphan helped. However, at this time, we are committed to changing how the world cares for double orphans. While this group is smaller in size, the number is still significant (approximately the size of Saudi Arabia) and they are the most vulnerable. We are providing solutions that mimic the family: two-parent, family-style homes offering opportunity for each child to flourish. Coupled with access to health, dental, and social care, each child is being prepared for the future through education, responsibility, support and the structure that parents were designed to provide. We invite you to join this movement to give every child the opportunity to be a part of a loving family! Get informed, get involved, be generous, and spread the word. Together we can see lasting change.
Late last year, we founded and launched The Hope Effect. From the very beginning, we have dreamed big dreams for this company. Our mission is to “change orphan care around the world by focusing on solutions that better mimic the family.” Decades worth of research indicate traditional, institutional-style orphanages with large child to adult ratios are failing those they desire to help. When children do not receive adequate personal interaction within a loving environment, development is stunted and learning abilities are delayed or lost. Kids are “aging out” behind in almost every stage of human development. To foster better solutions for orphaned children, we are building smaller housing units—providing individual homes for 2 parents and 8 orphans. In this way, children receive the love and attention and affection they would in a family and are provided an example of how a family functions for when they start their own. On November 1, 2015, The Hope Effect was launched. To say the public’s response to our work has been positive would be an understatement. In less than four months:
- We have raised over $110,000 from 1,000 different supporters.
- We have fully funded and broken ground on our first project: a family-style home on the campus of La Providencia in Honduras.
- In partnership with KZ Architecture, we have started architectural design for future construction.
- We have begun the process of finding personnel and researching land options for the construction of our first full-fledged orphan-care campus.
We have accomplished a lot in our first 15 weeks. But there is much left to do! So this Spring, we invite you to partner with us to change how the world cares for orphans by hosting a garage sale. The concept is very simple: Commit to clearing the excess clutter from your home. Then, host a garage sale. Using the flyers and posters that we provide, promote your sale in your local community. Using your personalized campaign page, donate 100% (or a portion) of the proceeds to The Hope Effect. Our goal is to host 250 garage sales this Spring. Tell us you are participating by following this link and clicking the “Become a Fundraiser” button. Your excess can become provision for a child in need. If buying stuff hasn’t made you happy, maybe selling it will. (tweet that) — Or, you can participate/contribute in other ways:
- By committing at least $10 per month, you can join our $10 Team of 250+ recurring donors.
- Whether selling things or not, you can always make a one-time donation.
- We depend on private donors and corporate sponsors to cover our administrative costs so that 100% of donations can be used directly for orphan care. If you would like to support our work in this way, you can do so here.
- Follow the Hope Effect on Facebook and Twitter.
Small acts, when multiplied by thousands of people, can transform the world. Thank you for providing yours.
“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” — John Bunyan There are very few people who don’t like the idea of generosity. We are indeed a species that loves to help others and confront needs when we see them. Unfortunately, there are also very few people who are content with the level of generosity in their lives. Most people I know wish they were able to give more. And while there are a number of reasons that this may be the case… sometimes the best solution may be the simplest. To that end, there are a number of simple steps that we can take to make generosity more intentional in our lives. If you have never given away any money or time, this would be a great way to get started (no matter what your current economic situation is). On the other hand, if you are just hoping to raise the level of generosity in your life, you will also find some of these simple steps to be relevant and helpful.
10 Simple Ways to Become a More Generous Person
1. Consider the benefits of generosity. Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. Generosity produces within us a sense that we are capable of making a difference in the world, that we are actively addressing the needs of those around us, and that we are shaping our community into a healthier one. While generosity is typically seen as the opposite of self-serving, counting the personal benefits is indeed one of the most important steps that we can take in getting started. 2. Embrace gratitude. Make a list of the things in your life for which you are grateful. Your list doesn’t have to be long. It won’t take much time. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a physical list (in your head will be completely sufficient). Sometimes, the most important step you can take to become more generous is to spend more time thinking about what you already possess and less time thinking about what you don’t. Once you start intentionally thinking that way, you may be surprised just how good you already have it… and become more apt to share your life with others. 3. Start really small. If you’ve never given away money, start by giving away $1. If you are embarrassed to give just $1, don’t be. You’ve got nothing to worry about: there are plenty of charities online that allow you to give with your credit card and you’ll never cross paths with the people who record your $1 donation. Of course, the point of this exercise is not to report a $1 tax deduction on your year-end tax return. The point is to get started. If you’ll feel more comfortable giving $5, $10, or $20, start there. But no matter what dollar amount you choose, jump right in with something small. You can afford it… and that little push can help build momentum in your life towards generosity. 4. Give first. When you receive your next paycheck, make your first expense an act of giving. Often times, we wait to see how much we have left over before we determine how much we can give away. The problem is that most of the time after we start spending, there is nothing left over. The habit of spending all of it is too deeply ingrained in our lives. To counteract that cycle, give first. Every payday, write a check for $10 to your local homeless shelter. You just may be surprised how you won’t even miss it. 5. Divert one specific expense. For a set period of time (try 29 days), divert one specific expense to a charity of your choosing. You may choose to bring a lunch to work, ride your bike to work once/week, or give up Starbucks on Mondays (wait, make that Thursday). Calculate the money you’ll save and then redirect it to a specific charity/cause. Whatever you choose, I recommend picking something that would be fun to give up – something unique that you’ll remember. And setting a specific period of time for the experiment should make it completely achievable. Courtney Carver gave away an extra $225 in one month just giving up Starbucks. 6. Fund a cause based on your passions. There are countless charities/causes that need your support. And some of them are directly in-line with your most compelling passions. What are you most passionate about? Is it the environment, poverty, or religion? Maybe it’s world peace, child nutrition, or animal rights? What about education, civil rights, or clean water? Identify what passions already move you, find a committed organization around that cause, and then joyfully help them in their work. At The Hope Effect, we are motivated by a single desire to find and implement new family-based solutions for orphan care around the world. This may be important to you, or maybe it’s not. Find the problem that excites you to solve. 7. Find a person you believe in. If you find that you are more easily motivated and shaped by the people in your life rather than organizations/causes, use that tendency as motivation instead. Take careful notice of the people in your life that you most admire. What organizations/causes do they hold most dear? Who do they support? What makes them passionate about supporting it? And how can you get involved alongside them? 8. Spend time with people in need. One of the most effective antidotes for non-generosity is to make space in your life for those who actually need your help. After all, it is a very small step to go from knowing somebody in need to helping somebody in need. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to volunteer one meal at your local homeless shelter. Most homeless shelters readily accept volunteers and have systems in place to get you started. And rubbing shoulders with the poor just may change your impression of them forever. 9. Spend time with a generous person. One of the most life-changing conversations I’ve ever had about generosity occurred when I found the courage to start asking specific questions of the right person. I remember starting with, “Have you always been generous?” And immediately followed with more: “When did you become so generous? How did it start? How do you decide where your money goes? What advice would you give someone who wants to get started?” It was life-changing. And the other guy paid for the meal… go figure. 10. Own less stuff. Oh sure, living a minimalist life won’t automatically make you a more generous person, but it will provide the space necessary to make it possible. You’ll spend less money on things at the department store. You’ll have more time/energy to help others. And the intentionality that emerges in your life will help you discover the need for generosity. Minimalism has resulted in many positive changes in my life – becoming more generous has been one of the most important. Generosity rarely happens by chance. Instead, it is an intentional decision that we make in our lives. But it does not need to be as difficult as many people think. Sometimes, starting with the simple steps is the best step that we can take. What simple steps have you incorporated into your life to foster generosity?