Sunday, June 13, 2010


We learned about another charity at church today. We need to pray about this. Americans find themselves supporting their own families and charities right here at home in this time of need but so many are worse off than we are. Do we understand our blessings?

"WAUPACA – Around the time that Mary Gordon started her own family, she began to think about the many blessings she had.
She watched the commercials that sought to help children in other parts of the world and noticed a tiny ad in a magazine with the same goal.

Gordon, who lives in rural Waupaca, did her research and in the end, felt most comfortable with the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA).

Around 1990, she began sponsoring children through the lay Catholic organization that works with people of all faith traditions.

"I liked the fact that they were very concerned with upholding the dignity of the people they work with. They work with the people. They demand education. Any child sponsored in this has to go to school. They feel that is the only way they can break the chain of poverty," she said.
A sponsorship of $30 a month through CFCA’s Hope for a Family program provides basic necessities such as food, education, clothing, medical care and, in some instances, livelihood programs for the families. The program also includes sponsorship of the elderly.

CFCA works in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and South America.
Gordon said the organization follows Catholic social justice teaching. "Their big thing," she said, "is giving these people hope, dignity, self-worth."
In March, Gordon made her second mission trip to Guatemala to meet children she sponsors, as well as their families. It was her second such trip – her first was in 2004.

"The first trip was probably the most eye-opening and spiritual experience – just becoming aware of the need that there is in another country," Gordon said. "We see pictures on TV and read about it, but when you go and see and meet people living through this through no fault of their own, you just can’t turn away."

When it comes to stewardship, CFCA has consistently been highly rated by independent oversight organizations, with 94.6 percent of its funds going to program support, 2.5 percent to fundraising and 2.9 percent to administration.

Gordon said those who want to sponsor a child can choose the age and gender of the child. Sponsors can even choose a child based on the child’s birthday or name. More than 300,000 children and aged are being sponsored throughout the world, and she said 6,000 children are presently on a waiting list – a number that does not include families with children wanting to be sponsored but not having been processed yet.

"CFCA hires social workers to go into these communities to assess the needs of the town," she said. "They all have different stories. The money you donate is not given to them in cash."
The money goes toward such things as education, medical and dental care, clothing and nutrition, as well as birthday and Christmas gifts.

Sponsors can send letters to the children they are sponsoring and expect to receive letters from the children – the original letters as well as the translations. Privacy is protected. Such things as addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses cannot be exchanged so that donors do not receive phone calls from someone asking for money or have someone show up at their door.
And, when a child completes his education, communication between the sponsor and child ends.
Gordon said what she likes about CFCA is knowing that her donations were always going directly to and affecting a family in a positive way.

At $30 per month to sponsor a child, she said that is about what a family of four might pay to see a movie or to have dinner. "You can stop sponsoring at any time," she said. "If you stop sponsoring, CFCA keeps them on for six months while they try to find another sponsor."
Through the mission trips, sponsors can meet in person those they are helping. "When you visit, they bring the child and some family members to you. A social worker and translator goes with you," Gordon said.

CFCA picks up the sponsors at the airport and provides transportation. The cost of the mission trip also includes lodging and airfare, with security provided throughout the seven-day trip.
"You really get to see the real country. You’ll see the poverty," Gordon said. "You represent all the sponsors from all over the world."

She said the trips were incredible and made her more aware about social justice issues around the world. "It makes me so thankful for the freedoms and opportunities here, and what we take for granted in this country," she said. "There are many people here (in Waupaca) doing this (sponsoring children). It’s just a way to do your part – one person at a time. It makes you feel confident that your money is being well-spent."

The people who are in the program are grateful. "CFCA has been able in less than 30 years to make a difference in these cultures," Gordon said. "The trips awakened me to the desperate situations in other countries that it’s easy to ignore. I became determined to make a difference in a very small way."

Gordon is now involved in helping with CFCA’s advocacy outreach efforts. She will speak to civic groups, nonprofit organizations, churches and others interested in learning about the program.
"I have actual portfolios of children waiting to be sponsored from Guatemala. You can also sponsor an aged person," she said.

Gordon said one does not have to be Catholic to sponsor someone in the program nor do those being sponsored have to be Catholic. While CFCA is a Catholic lay organization, it does not seek to convert the sponsored children and elderly to become Catholic. "The religion of the people is respected," she said.

Those interested in hearing about Gordon’s experience visiting Guatemala and about sponsoring a child or aged person may contact her at 715-258-8439. CFCA’s headquarters is in Kansas City, Kan., and information can also be found at its website at "If not CFCA, there are other organizations to get involved in," Gordon said. "It’s a great opportunity for people with children to teach their children about global responsibility and to have a personal relationship. It’s a way to help struggling communities and people."

So much to pray about...


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