By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
We’ve reached the final post of our 75th anniversary blog series: number 75. When this series started back in September 2013, I wasn’t sure this day would ever come, but it is here.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the ChildFund staff members who sat down for interviews, wrote stories, took photos, searched for archived photos and video, edited posts and made story suggestions. Your help was invaluable. Also, to all of the ChildFund Alliance leaders who contributed posts about their organizations’ work — thank you. It’s amazing that some of the countries where we worked decades ago are now strong and prosperous enough to help other children in need today.
During the series, we learned a great deal about the origins of ChildFund, which was called China’s Children Fund when it was founded in 1938 by Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke to help Chinese orphans. Over the years, our leaders and staff members — both in Richmond, Va. and abroad — have transformed our organization (renamed Christian Children’s Fund in 1951 and ChildFund in 2009) from a small but ambitious charity to a global aid organization that assisted more than 18 million people worldwide last year.
Some of the most memorable posts for me were about children and alumni who have seen great change take hold in their lives.
Gleyson, a young man from Brazil, wrote about his neighborhood, which was plagued with violence stemming from the drug trade. It also didn’t have running water. But he was sponsored and enrolled in a ChildFund-supported project that provided him with tutoring, study materials, extracurricular dance and art classes, and above all, a supportive environment.
Today, he writes, “I graduated with a degree in business administration, and I am a professional, registered with the Regional and Federal Brazilian Administration Councils and specializing in financial management and controllership. I recently purchased a car, and I’m currently employed in a company in charge of the administrative management of condos.”
We heard many encouraging stories like Gleyson’s. Manisha’s family was able to quit the bangle-making trade in Firozabad, India, finding more lucrative and less hazardous work; Nicky, a Zambian man, earned a degree in business administration and went to work for a bank. Many of the Chinese orphans who grew up in Hong Kong orphanages started by CCF have found professional and personal success, and an amazing number have formed their own charities to help other children. My colleague, Christine Ennulat, wrote an essay about how we can’t count the number of people that have been helped through ChildFund — because our actions have a ripple effect.
ChildFund will continue our work as we enter our 76th year, focusing on children and their families and giving support to communities in need — while providing training and resources through our local partner organizations, a process that lets communities determine their destinies. On the world stage, we are pushing for greater recognition of children’s needs as the United Nations sets its post-2015 development goals.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll leave you with a message from our CEO and president, Anne Lynam Goddard:
“Because nothing lasts forever, I never take for granted that ChildFund will continue for another 75 years. The decisions we make today will impact the ChildFund of tomorrow. We must continue to evolve as an organization, meeting the needs of children in a rapidly changing and complex world.
“Maybe one thing does last forever — the warm-hearted generosity of people who help children living in poverty. That part of our shared humanity is truly enduring.”
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
On Oct. 6, 1938, our founder, Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke, received a charter for China’s Children Fund Inc. from the State Corporation Commission of Virginia. Through the course of the next 75 years, the organization would evolve to become ChildFund International, which today serves 17.8 million people in 30 countries.
Among the officers on CCF’s board at the time of the charter were three Richmonders: President Eudora Ramsey Richardson, Vice President T. Nelson Parker and Secretary and Treasurer Clarke.
Richardson, who was born in Kentucky and moved to Richmond as a child, was full-time director of the Virginia Writers’ Project, which sent clerks, writers, editors and others who had been without work during the 1930s to gather life histories, social-ethnic studies and interviews with 50 former slaves. It was part of a federal project, which fell under the umbrella of the Works Progress Administration and employed 8.5 million people during the Great Depression.
Parker was a former Richmond mayor and insurance commissioner for Virginia.
Richardson served as president of the executive committee until 1944, and Parker succeeded her, staying in the post for 30 years.
In part, the 1938 charter reads:
“To solicit and receive voluntary contributions in and on the North American Continent and transmit such funds … to China for looking after, caring for, and rehabilitating the poor and indigent children of China. … To cooperate with and assist responsible child welfare institutions and agencies in China and to establish orphanages, homes and other agencies throughout the country of China.”
It was the beginning of an organization that would make reaching the hardest-to-reach children its mission.