Recently, I had the honor and privilege of saying THANK YOU to a few of the army of individuals who helped accomplish amazing things for children in foster care at the organization with which I used to be involved. We came together to celebrate the good work we did together, and to raise a toast to our accomplishments.
Success is only possible if a terrific team is assembled. No charity can hope to achieve its mission without dedicated and passionate employees, volunteers and board members. I was incredibly fortunate to have worked side by side with many who believed in our shared mission – to bring hope to children in foster care. They gave of themselves because they felt and saw the direct impact their service had on babies, youth, teens and families.
Over the years we provided a safe place to sleep for children who had been abused and neglected. 18,000 kids have slept on the beds and cribs we provided. A similar number of boys and girls received birthday packages assembled with love by volunteers. The Birthday Dreams project told children that they were important, and that their birthday was worthy of a celebration. The clothing, diapers, holiday gifts, licensing supplies and more were basic needs we filled in the lives of foster families. In all we did, we came together, gave our all, and made a difference in the lives thousands of children.
No charity can operate efficiently without volunteers, and the men and women I worked with are heroes with hearts of gold. I want every volunteer who took time from their lives to help this cause know that you are incredibly important and valued. Your gift of time, and the talents that you donated made lives easier for grandparents who are now raising their grandchildren and for foster parents who were called on to assume incredible parenting burdens.
I was blessed to have had board members who took time away from their professional lives to help with the challenges of running a rapidly growing charity. I had employee partners who lived our shared mission every day, and often sacrificed their home life in order to serve families and children. All of these people deserve a round of applause for so successfully surpassing every single goal we set, always with the end objective of helping the kids with an ever-present smile on their faces. It was truly a labor of love.
No charity can exist without a founder, someone whose heart and vision provides a road map to meet a need in our community. All the good we accomplished would be erased were it not for Kathy Donaldson and her husband Paul taking the initiative to establish a charity (in 1998) with the simple premise of doing one good deed a day in order to make our world a better place. That was the promise that Kathy made to her dying sister, Patty, and one that was the cornerstone of our operations. Kathy served for 25 years, always seeking to help, one dream, one child, one family at a time. She was never looking for glory, but sought to fulfill that promise to her sister by simply helping others.
As we move on, it’s vital to pay tribute to our shared history, and to the legion of people who worked so hard to achieve a common purpose. I want to say a big thank you to so many friends who worked in unison – unselfish and resolute in their commitment to the task at hand. You made countless good deeds happen!
I thank you on behalf of every boy and girl whose lives were made better because of the work we did. Together we can confidently and proudly state that we achieved our objective – we brought HOPE to children in foster care!
Dan Shufelt, the former CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, has been involved in the charity world as an executive and grant maker for many years.
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