Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joining the Team

Posted on behalf of Garrett Kenyon, Children International's newest writer.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you can probably imagine how I felt when I was asked to join the team at Children International. The job would combine the two things I’m most passionate about in life - writing and helping others. I had volunteered before: fingerprinted children for the Child Protection Agency, canvassed for the Sierra Club, campaigned for politicians I believed in. I even joined an effort to save an old movie theatre in San Francisco and stood out on the sidewalk for weeks, battered by rain and wind, to get a petition signed. But nothing I had done could prepare me for the level of pure dedication and commitment that I would encounter at Children International.

The chance to touch so many young lives; the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of children lift themselves out of poverty – it’s not something the people here take lightly. I don’t think I’ve met a single person who doesn’t have their office or cubicle lined with pictures of the children they have helped. Out of 250-some employees, it would be hard to find one who doesn’t sponsor at least one child (most, it seems, sponsor 2 or 3), and from every corner of the office photos of sponsored children and framed letters and drawings constantly remind us why we’re here.

One thing that has surprised me thus far is how many of my notions and suspicions have already been put to rest. Like many people, I used to see the commercials on TV and think about sponsoring a child. However, as a registered cynic, a barrage of questions would keep me from taking the final step. For example, I thought, if they show this adorable child on the ad, won’t a lot of people call to sponsor this specific child? Are they all going to be told they’re sponsoring the same kid? How would I know that I’m helping one specific child? They say I’ll receive letters and pictures from my sponsored child – but is this even possible with so many children? How do I know thousands of other people aren’t getting the same picture and letter, with just the name at the top changed? Perhaps most importantly, how much of my money will actually go to help these children? These questions dampened my resolve and kept me from taking the final step towards sponsorship.

Before the end of my first week, all these concerns were put to rest. As I learned more about the way CI operates, I found that sponsored children are served by community centers in their neighborhoods that organize the photographing and letter writing of each child. My research showed that out of each $10 given to Children International, $8 goes to programs that help the children, with the remaining $2 being spent on administration costs. This became particularly impressive when I witnessed the sheer size of the operation. A tour of the premises on my third day left me speechless – the requirements necessary to run an organization like this are immense.

So here I am, ecstatic to be joining an organization that’s making a real impact on world poverty. Soon, I’ll be going into the field, and I’ll take you guys with me, relaying details of my trip through the eyes of a newcomer. I hope you’ll join me. Thanks.

1 comment:

Dana said...

I look forward to hearing your stories Garrett. It is a wonderful thing for us sponsors to have passionate people relaying wonderful stories to us.