By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
Seventy-five years have passed since ChildFund’s founder, Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke, unexpectedly met his friend, Dr. J. Stewart Nagle, on a train in the summer of 1938. Clarke, then 49, had decades of experience raising funds for displaced, impoverished people in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
So, it comes as no surprise that the two men would talk about the suffering of Chinese orphans following the 1937 Japanese invasion of China. According to A Book About Children, a 1991 history of our organization written by Larry E. Tise, Nagle asked Clarke, “You’re a good fundraiser, why don’t you do something about it?”
That fall, Clarke did do something: He started China’s Children Fund, a national appeal for funds to help vulnerable Chinese orphans. The headquarters was in Clarke’s home in Richmond, Va.
This was the seed that became ChildFund International, a global child-focused development organization that now serves more than 17 million children and family members in 30 countries. By the early 1940s, person-to-person child sponsorship was in place, and Clarke and his founding board had raised and distributed funds to support children in China and other Asian countries.
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of ChildFund, we are launching a 75-post series that will run during the next several months. Historical moments, archived photos and memories from sponsors, employees and children will play a significant part in the series, as well as updates on our ongoing work around the globe. You will also hear from ChildFund Alliance members and national directors from several of our country offices, sharing current projects and the goals they hope to achieve in the future.
Most of all, as we reflect on our organization’s history we want to express our gratitude to our supporters – those who helped Dr. Clarke’s vision for Chinese orphans succeed and those who make our work for children possible today. Stay tuned during the coming weeks, and look for the 75th anniversary logo on the blog!