Everyone’s Child has some exciting developments to report! First, very early on Saturday morning, September 8th, I was honored to join (via Skype) a meeting of the first official EC Kenya Board of Directors. Men and women from different tribes and different parts of Kenya participated in this historic meeting. Their group is made up of a school principal, a school counselor, a nutritionist, an accountant, teachers, an urban planner, and other highly qualified professionals. However, their best common qualification is that they are all committed to making a difference in the lives of Kenyan children who have the greatest needs.
The meeting took place at William Aludo‘s home in Rongo, which is in western Kenya. Four Board members are from Rongo, and three Board members live in Nakuru, a six hour trip from eastern Kenya. I was grateful for a good connection and clear reception, despite the sudden rainfall that drowned out the conversation for a while. EC USA is looking forward to working with this stellar group of people!
The second of these exciting developments is that Kateri’s Kitchen is 99 % of the way finished! Many of you contributed to get this project off the ground. The chimney and a cookstove are the final pieces that need to be put in place before the building is officially declared open for use. Altogether we need an additional $300 to finish the job. The cost of a cookstove (a.k.a. “jiko”) is $50.00. The cost to build the chimney is $250.00. Please click here if you would like to help see this project through to the end. Once it is finished, Kateri’s plaque will go up. But best of all, the children will be fed from a sound building, showing them that there are people who care and want the best for them.
As always, Asante Sana (thank you very much) for supporting Everyone’s Child. Your efforts truly are helping to change a generation through education.
The Board of Directors
The purpose of this blog is to familiarize our readers and followers with nine wonderful people who serve on EC’s Board of Directors. Some of them have been on the Board since the inception of Everyone’s Child, and others have just joined. I am excited to introduce this dynamic group of people whose heart and passion are to educate, care for, and connect with orphaned and vulnerable children throughout the world.
Margaret L. Parkerson, Chairman of Board
Margaret “Maggie” Parkerson divides her time between Suffolk, Virginia and Fayston, Vermont where she and her husband Charles “Charlie” have owned a ski house for 30 years. She was a systems analyst for Newport News Shipbuilding during the 1970’s, and has also worked part-time in human resources at Lancaster Farms, a successful nursery business in Virginia that her husband started in 1969.
After raising their three children, Maggie, who has a degree in mathematics from Mary Baldwin College, became involved with teaching higher math to homeschooled children for 10 years. She is also gifted with a knack for writing and was instrumental in editing Ruth’s doctoral dissertation. Today she is Chairman of the Parkerson Foundation, a family philanthropic organization. She served as Secretary of the Board of Everyone’s Child from 2009 – 2015, and has been Chairman of the Board since 2015.
Maggie is an international traveler. She has visited most of the continents of the world, touring nurseries with the International Plant Propagators Society.
While she has not yet traveled to Kenya, after reading Ruth’s thesis Maggie was also moved by the importance for communities to have clean drinking water. She has always had a heart for education, seeing the need for better educational practices in countries like South Africa and Thailand.
Maggie’s three children are grown and married and have given her and Charlie 11 grandchildren. In her spare time she likes to learn new things – taking on tasks such as upholstering. She also loves to read, swim and knit for all of her grandchildren.
S. Tracy Braun, MAAA, Treasurer
Sharlene “Tracy” Braun was born and raised in Northfield, Vermont where she and her husband, Chaunce, also raised three boys. They are snowbirds, spending the spring, summer and autumn in northern Vermont and wintering in Florida.
Tracy is a Pension Actuary and has spent her career in the retirement plan-consulting arena, providing expertise to companies who establish all types of retirement plans for their employees. Her current position is Vice President of People’s United Bank Retirement Services in Burlington, Vermont.
The Braun’s are both founders of Everyone’s Child, and provided the incentive for this non-profit to begin. When Ruth completed her doctorate in 2008, they approached her to ask if she would want to direct a charitable organization to support orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa. The vision for EC grew out of that initial contact.
Tracy has been on EC’s Board of Directors since the beginning, serving as Chairman for six years and Treasurer for nine years. She has traveled to Kenya twice, and found that her first trip there was life changing. She says, “What struck me about Kenya was both its incredible beauty and the abject poverty of many of its people. But in spite of this, the children were joyful and excited just to have the opportunity to go to school. It was a very humbling experience, and made my commitment to help educate these children even stronger. We have so much in America, and it takes so little of what we have to make a true difference in their lives.”
Tracy and Chaunce are now enjoying the newest generation of grandchildren – six of them age five and younger. This definitely keeps them busy in their spare time!
Laura D. Viens, Secretary
Laura Viens was born and raised in New York City, spending summers in Vermont where she met her husband Freddie. After graduating from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, the two of them settled in the Mad River Valley where they have raised twin girls and a son, and Freddie runs Shepard’s Brook Auto, a successful auto body repair shop.
Laura worked for many years as a program assistant for Project Harmony International, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering civic engagement, cross-cultural learning and increased opportunities for youth in a digital age. Today she manages a local gift store, does book work for Shepard’s Brook Auto, and spends time volunteering in her community. One of her favorite ways to give back is serving breakfast at the local senior center.
In 2013, her twin daughters traveled to Kenya with Everyone’s Child, an experience, she says, that left an impression on both of them. When she saw and heard about their experiences she immediately wanted to help the children who influenced their lives. Laura joined the EC Board in 2015, serving as Secretary for three years, and also took on the responsibility of collecting the funds in EC’s OFP (orphan-feeding program) coin banks.
Laura loves snowshoeing, traveling, her family and their four dogs, four cats, three rats and chickens. Needless to say, they are a busy family.
Rev. William W. Stewart, Director
Rev. William “Fr. Paul” Stewart was born on a naval base in Newport, Rhode Island, was raised in New York City, and spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm in Connecticut. In 1979 he was commissioned as a minister of the Community of the Crucified One (CCO) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1983 was ordained as a priest, gaining the name of “Fr. Paul”. After being elected Prelate, he taught in the CCO seminary for eight years. In 1984, he completed a church building project in Moretown, Vermont, remaining there as pastor until 2017.
In 1996, Fr. Paul was sent to Kenya to establish the Holy Cross Church, an international extension of the CCO. This experience initiated a love of traveling and missionary work that has since taken him to many developing nations and given him the opportunity to bring hope to many lives.
Today, Fr. Paul sits on the Board of Elders and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CCO. In addition, he is the owner of Juniper’s Fare Café and Catering, a church-run restaurant located in the heart of the Vermont ski country. He has also been on the Board of Everyone’s Child since it’s earliest days.
Fr. Paul and his wife Kathy have four children and nine grandchildren and make their home in Moretown, Vermont. When he isn’t traveling around the country or around the world, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family, also traveling with them whenever possible.
Rev. Stephen T. Young, Director
Rev. “Fr.” Stephen Young grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Vermont from 1981 – 2016, working as the director of the Vermont Audubon State Office and serving as a youth pastor and assistant pastor of the Church of the Crucified One in Moretown. Prior to those years he worked as a staff member for Congresswoman Margaret Heckler (R-MA), and in 1975 began his career with the National Audubon Society as a staff environmental lobbyist and community organizer in their Washington, DC office. During President Jimmy Carter’s administration Fr. Steve (then Steve) worked alongside his peers from many different environmental organizations to pass the Alaska Lands Bill in Congress.
Fr. Steve has served on the Board of EC since 2009, and today is also an active member of the Sacred Heart Prayer Community in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, vice-chairman of the Linesville Community and Business Alliance, and Board member of the Linesville Ministerium in Linesville, Pennsylvania.
When it comes to service, Fr. Steve attributes many of his thoughts and ideals to the time he spent working as a volunteer fisheries extension agent with the Peace Corps in Nepal. He has had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet people from countless different cultures, religions and traditions. His love for God, His people and His Creation have all been shaped and molded by the incredible wealth of these experiences.
Fr. Steve and his wife Ruth, their teenage son Thomas, and dog Keiko live in a restored farmhouse on 13 acres of land, located in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania. When he isn’t running a meeting or loading wood in the fire, you’ll find him reading a good book on his front porch.
David Dillon, Director
David Dillon was born and raised in Arlington, Massachusetts and is now a resident of Cape Cod where he lives with his wife, Juliane. The two of them have been actively involved in church ministry for many years. Their lives are centered on service of others, beginning at home. Juliane is a community outreach coordinator for a non-profit human service organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.
David graduated from Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1970’s. Over the years he has worked in business development, real estate, and he also served as vice president of the Asia Pacific Division of Remanco International. In 2007, David became the New England Field Representative for Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). He has been a Director on the Board of Everyone’s Child since 2012.
The Dillon’s son and daughter are grown, one in the workforce and the other in her senior year in college, leaving these two “empty nesters” to serve in another way. For the past six years, David and Juliane have shared their home with a single mother and her young daughter, giving them hope and helping them to get a fresh start in life. The mom has since finished school, found a job, is engaged and has bought a new home for herself and her daughter.
David is also a renowned professional jazz drummer and spends most of his spare time performing on and off Cape Cod.
Therese M. Brady, Director
Therese “Teri” Brady is originally from Akron, Ohio but is now a resident of Conneautville, Pennsylvania where she and her husband, Rev. James Brady have been living since 2002. Prior to that Teri served as a missionary for the Community of the Crucified One in Nashville, Tennessee and Kapaau, Hawaii for 13 years.
Teri retired in 2010, but has had 50 years employment experience with several firms throughout the USA, holding positions such as office manager, secretary, production coordinator, and supervisor in communications. During half of those years she simultaneously served as a legislator and secretary for her church community. Teri may be retired, but she is not one to sit still, and recently became a member of the Linesville Ministerium in Linesville, Pennsylvania.
Teri joined the EC Board of Directors in 2018 and brings a strong background in office management as well as a heart for the children she sees EC serving in Kenya and India. She and her husband have many “spiritual children” from serving in the ministry for so many years. Their door was always open to the helpless and the homeless, so she understands very well the importance of offering support to those in need.
Teri’s favorite pastimes are cooking, reading, and playing guitar. In the summer, unless it’s raining, you can usually find her in the garden.
Benjamin L. Crosby, MS, Director
Ben Crosby has watched the growth and evolution of the Everyone’s Child since he was a senior in his rural Vermont high school. In 2013 he traveled to Kenya with Ruth and experienced the work that EC does. This trip opened his eyes and motivated him to integrate development work into his life.
Ben has an educational background in Community Development. His undergraduate degree is in Community and International Development and he also holds a Masters degree in Community Development and Applied Economics, both from the University of Vermont. He has worked on development programs in Honduras and has also spent a number of months serving as a missionary in northern Jamaica. His interest and passion revolves around youth development as well as the economics and business of community transformation.
Ben joined the EC Board in 2018. He served as deacon of the Youth Ministry at his church for many years, and brings an interest in and passion for helping disadvantaged youth to find sustainable economic futures. In his words, “…education and kids are the foundation of communities and investing in them is necessary for a promising future.”
Ben is newly married and is living in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Gabrielle, a child life specialist, and their pet bunny Olivia. He currently works as an analyst for the utility, National Grid, and enjoys thinking about the intersection of the global energy future and development. Having been born and raised in Vermont, his favorite activities are skiing and being outside.
Adam F. Braun, MBA, Director
Adam Braun was born in New York and raised on a small farm in Northfield, Vermont, where he spent much of his youth playing hockey with his two brothers. He first became interested in Kenya during a mission trip in 2009 when he visited a primary school and participated in an orphan-feeding program. Despite the poverty the children faced every day, he saw a joy in their faces that he couldn’t explain. It was this joy that ultimately led to his involvement in Everyone’s Child, joining the Board of Directors in early 2018.
Adam holds a BS in Accounting from St. Michael’s College and an MBA from Babson College. He is the North America Commission Controller for Philips Health-tech, a global medical device company, and has over 15 years of finance and accounting experience specializing in opportunity analysis, lean finance improvements and forecasting the unknown. As one of EC’s newest Board members he hopes to recognize opportunities to bring further assistance to the children we are supporting.
Adam and his wife Leah, a practicing family physician, live in Potomac, Maryland where they are raising their two young sons. He is an active volunteer with his local church, supporting the children’s and men’s ministries. He enjoys gardening, ice hockey and spending time with family.
Ruth T. Young, Ed.D. Founder and Executive Director
Ruth was born and raised in Williamsville, New York, and spent much of her youth traveling between the USA and Canada where her family owned a farm on Cape Breton Island. She has a BS from Baldwin-Wallace University and an M.S. Ed. from Duquesne University, and spent several years as an interpreter for hearing impaired children throughout the USA while serving as a missionary for the Community of the Crucified One.
In 1997, Ruth visited Kenya with a missionary team, a trip that deeply affected her and ultimately determined what she would do during the next phase of her life.
There were many moments that stuck with her from her time in Kenya, but one of the most poignant was when she shared a bottle of water with a small child in an arid region of eastern Kenya whose name literally translates to “Camp of Fire”. “I’ll never forget what happened,” she said. “The child took the bottle from me so gingerly, looked at it, then handed it to her older sister.” Ruth watched as the two of them walked off, sharing the water bottle and never looking back to ask for more. She had fully expected the child to drain the bottle and come back for more, but what she saw instead was an act of human kindness and mutual dependency, the smaller child entrusting her older sibling with the gift that had been given to her.
After receiving her doctorate in education from the University of Vermont, Ruth was asked by members of the current EC Board of Directors about becoming the Executive Director of a non-profit organization whose purpose would be to serve underprivileged children in developing nations. She was chosen specifically for this task because of her research and interest in Kenya. The organization took the name of “Everyone’s Child” from her dissertation.
In 2016, Ruth and her husband Steve and their teenage son moved from Vermont to western Pennsylvania to live in their restored farmhouse. She enjoys traveling, playing guitar, singing, going for walks with her husband, and finding ways to help children smile.
If you would like to learn more about our programs, please visit the EC website by clicking here. And if you know that you want to support orphaned and at-risk children in Kenya or India, please click here to find out how you can help.
As always, thank you for reading and supporting Everyone’s Child!
This past June I wrote about the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya where children were in attendance, but there were no teachers. Since then, William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, has told us about the hardships these children face on a regular basis.
As many as 112 children are on the rolls at this school, but their teachers only come once in a while and do more crowd control than any actual teaching. The issue is that although the Kenyan government provided a school building for these children, soon afterward they placed a moratorium on registering new schools due to a lack of government funding. Therefore, there are no trained teachers at the school. However, parents in this rural area continue to send their children to the school and have hired three untrained teachers who are paid infrequently and show up sporadically. The children technically have a school, but they aren’t receiving a quality education. What’s more, they face a multitude of difficulties every time they go to school.
Here are some of the hardships that children are confronted with at the Miruya Primary School:
- Lack of potable water – There is a need for clean drinking water. The nearest water source is a river that is two kilometers from the school.
- Lack of trained teachers – Ideally, the school should have at least five trained teachers. Instead, it has three untrained teachers handling 112 children in preschool through to grade 5.
- Inadequate classrooms – The school has only four classrooms, one of which is incomplete with an unfinished floor and un-plastered walls. Students in different grades have to share one room; which causes confusion and distraction when more than one teacher is teaching. The school needs four additional classrooms to accommodate the current number of preschool and primary students (grades 1 to 5).
- Inadequate desks – Some students sit on the floor due to a shortage of desks. William Aludo donated desks to the school, but more desks are needed.
- Lack of textbooks – The school does not have the requisite textbooks for covering the current curriculum set by the government. Ideally each pupil should have a textbook for each subject, although in many schools like this one, three or four students usually wind up sharing one textbook between them.
- Inadequate toilets – There is only one toilet at the school. The school should have separate toilets for girls, boys and teachers. Two other latrines need to be built.
- Lack of adequate nutrition – There is no food provided for the children. A daily, nutritional lunch program for the children is also needed.
The Miruya Primary School Challenge
In a few weeks, EC’s annual appeal will be starting. Many of you choose to contribute regularly throughout the year, while others choose to give generously once a year. We are very thankful for both types of giving. Your gifts help to fund student scholarships and lunch programs for orphaned and vulnerable primary and preschool children in Kenya, and a unique after school study program in India. This year we are also hoping to raise funds to help the Miruya Primary School get on its’ feet. We are aiming for $50,000 to get us well on our way to funding our current programs and addressing the challenges the children in Miruya face every day.
Please click here to learn how you can help us provide a quality, sustainable education for these children. All donations are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support. With your help we truly can change a generation through education.
As always, Asante Sana (thank you) dear readers!
This year, for the first time in EC’s history we are stepping outside of Nakuru to offer support to secondary students in a different region of this beautiful country. To say that we’re excited is an understatement. Last year, William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator, or “boots on the ground” as we like to call him, identified several orphaned secondary students struggling to pay their annual school fees in his hometown of Rongo, Migori County. Finding out that there are students who can’t afford to go to school in your hometown may seem like a problem, but to us it presents an opportunity.
Synthia Achar and John Odhiambo are two such students. Both are in Form 2 (sophomore year), and have one living parent. Both have five siblings between the ages of 1 – 18 living at home, making the idea of saving $250 a year for school fees almost prohibitive.
Synthia’s mom is a peasant farmer; she has been paying some of her daughter’s fees in kind by taking maize to the school which is then converted into a cash equivalent.
John’s mother is unwell and unable to earn anything towards his education. His grandmother has been leasing portions of her piece of land to help pay for some fees.
In both cases it hasn’t been enough. Synthia and John still have outstanding fees from 2016 and are in danger of losing the chance to remain in school. These are very real problems that present us with a very real opportunity to respond.
Everyone’s Child was established to help disadvantaged children receive an education. If they are unable to go to school, we raise funds to pay school fees, and provide them with a mentoring program to teach them life skills. If they are excited to be in school but are fainting in class due to poor nutrition, we provide lunch. If their only drinking water comes from a muddy river, we partner with organizations to bring in fresh, potable water for the school. All of these components add up to a sustainable model for receiving an education.
None of this would be possible without the help of the generous people who give annually and monthly to Everyone’s Child. It’s as simple as that. Since 1997, people have been making a difference in the lives of hundreds of orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya through Everyone’s Child. Plain and simple, we couldn’t do it without you. If you want to learn how you can become a part of the solution, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.everyoneschild.net.