People are often astonished when they realize that Asia's Hope has only 3 full-time staff in our U.S. headquarters. How does an organization with such a huge impact — 31 children's homes, 2 schools, more than 140 full-time indigenous staff providing loving families for more than 750 orphaned kids — operate without a huge staff and complex bureaucracy?
At the risk of oversimplifying, I'd say the answer is "volunteers." We don't have a "development department," and we don't hire expensive fundraising firms to help us pay our bills. But we do have an incredible network of pastors, churches and advocates who work hard every day to fill the roles — for free — that other organizations have to shell out huge bucks to replicate on-staff and in-house.
At Asia's Hope, "simplicity" is one of our organizational values. And because we have so many supporters who are willing and able to work hard on our behalf, we're able to concentrate on other matters of vital importance, most importantly, encouraging and supporting our indigenous staff and advocating for our unique model of family-style, indigenous-led orphan care.
One such volunteer is Diane Tirakis. Along with her husband Ed and some of their friends from Wooster Grace Church (Sponsoring congregation of two Asia's Hope homes in Cambodia and two in Thailand), Diane founded Team Hope in 2009.
According to Diane, "Team Hope funds organizations that are on the front line, identifying, rescuing and restoring the lives of orphaned and abandoned children who would otherwise face a life of exploitations and abuse. And we do it by helping ordinary people enroll in endurance events — 5ks, 10ks, half- or full-marathons, triathlons, and cycling events — and raise money that goes directly to kids who are in desperate need of our help."
"God simply asked me to do this. A few years ago, He moved me to action when I listened to a sermon about the poverty and hopelessness of orphaned children in Cambodia. After hearing the sermon and hearing that our church was going to build and support an Asia's Hope children's home, I asked God to show me what more I could do. He just began to open one door after the next."
"As a mother of 2 children, to think of my little ones living a life of forced prostitution or labor is incredibly overwhelming. No child should live this way. I have always hoped that God would allow me to do something for Him and His kingdom. I believe that the first time I went running was the beginning of His plan."
Diane didn't start Team Hope with lots of fundraising experience or a lifetime of competitive racing. She was just a self-described "ordinary person" who believed that God might use her in the lives of suffering children.
Over the past few years, Team Hope has raised more than $150,000 for orphaned kids at risk of sexual and economic exploitation. The funds we've received from Team Hope have been a real blessing, and they've always seemed to come at exactly the time we've needed them most!
Last weekend, Team Hope hosted the first Annual "Sock It To Child Trafficking 5k" in Wooster, Ohio. More than 400 people showed up — an incredible turnout for an inaugural event. Avid competitors and first-time racers alike registered and raised funds to support orphaned kids. Senior citizens, middle-agers, high school students and small children all had a fantastic time crossing the finish line on foot, in strollers and even wheelchairs. In the end, they raised more than $25,000 for some of the poorest, most endangered kids in the world.
One 8 year old boy, Daniel Pasteur, ran more than 50 miles in preparation for this race, and personally raised $1,500 for Team Hope. It was an honor to stand next to Diane and offer a special "Team Hope Hero" trophy to a young man who represents the newest generation of world-changers.
Diane's is only one of many stories of dedicated volunteers I could share. And she's probably a little embarassed for all of the attention she's getting. But I wanted you to know about Diane, hear her story, and maybe encourage you to ask yourself the question that transformed her life, "What more can I do?"
If you have ideas about how you can help Asia's Hope, we'd love to hear them. Email me, and I'd be happy to brainstorm with you. I'll introduce you to Diane and others who are using their passions and talents to help orphaned kids at high risk of sexual and economic exploitation find a safe, loving, permanent home at Asia's Hope.
And if you're a cyclist of any age looking for an opportunity to ride on behalf of Asia's Hope, register today for next weekend's EduGo Road to Success Ride in Dublin, Ohio, an event organized by Jeremy Slagle and Stacy Keyerleber, another two of our many dedicated supporters!
To all of our volunteers, thank you! We quite literally couldn't do it without you.