by Loren Pritchett, ChildFund staff writer
When I sat down with Alan Sader, ChildFund’s TV spokesperson, I’ll admit I was a tad star struck. When I was younger, I’d seen him on countless commercials—sitting on a stoop in a developing country, arm wrapped gently around a small child. His posture was strong, his voice was both kind and commanding and his message was always clear – by giving a little each month, I had the opportunity to help change a child’s life.
For the last 20 years, Sader has spoken on behalf of children around the world. By sharing their stories and encouraging a U.S. audience to become sponsors, Sader has helped many children escape poverty. In our conversation, he recalled several trips to ChildFund program areas and shared how each child he meets reminds him why his work is so important.
“I do plays, I do commercials for lawyers and furniture stores and that’s great for providing food for my family but there is a legacy involved in this work [with ChildFund],” he says. “Making the lives of children better is the most important and rewarding work I can ever do. There are a lot of children whose lives have been changed because of this and I am happy talking to people about that.”
In 1993, one year after his first appearance in a ChildFund commercial, Sader traveled to Kenya to work on a second TV spot. He met numerous children whose stories he would share with the world but one child in particular helped reaffirm his decision to work as ChildFund’s spokesperson.
“At the time, my youngest daughter was 6-weeks old,” he says. “During this particular trip, they placed a small child in my arms. I can remember thinking, a baby feels like a baby and that baby felt like my baby; and I knew they had the same needs. It felt so good to communicate that need to the camera, to share that with whoever could see the commercial and encourage them to react by helping a child.”
Although Sader realized that all children around the world had the same basic needs, he was exposed to a level of poverty unlike anything he had seen in the U.S. “There was a shocking quality of poverty in these places. I saw communities where entire families lived in shacks made of tin and paper to keep the weather out,” he says. “I had never seen up close and personal poverty. Although I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, and I knew that my family came from poor mountain folk on my mother’s side, I don’t think my people were ever starving, malnourished or lived in places where it was dangerous to drink the water.”
He explains that his firsthand experiences in some of the most impoverished countries have been humbling and serve as a continuous reminder to help those who are less fortunate. So he has taken his own message to heart. Since 1992, Sader has sponsored two children through ChildFund – a girl from Brazil and a boy from Kenya. Both youth are approaching an age where they will complete ChildFund’s program, but Sader knows his support will have a long-lasting effect.
“I’ve met them both,” he says. “The young woman has special needs but is able to do things that make her feel included and worthwhile – when I hear from her (most letters come from her family), she is very happy. And Arnold started a business at a young age because he was able to buy rabbits using a monetary gift I sent him – so he tells me about his rabbits in his letters. I keep in touch with his father as well.”
Parents, especially mothers, play an important role in the communities Sader has visited. “ChildFund projects depend on the involvement of the local people,” he says. “I’ve seen them involve the whole community. It is amazing to see the mothers cook, clean, and make money at the markets and then volunteer to help their children have a better life.”
It’s this behind-the-scenes perspective that has motivated Sader to continue his role as ChildFund’s TV spokesperson. “I am continually impressed by this organization,” he says. “ChildFund is not run by some expert sitting back making all the decisions. It is a collaborative effort between the country, who knows what is best for their people and folks who want to help here at the home office.”
Home is Richmond, Va., to both ChildFund and Sader. And when he’s not dropping into headquarters to plan his next filming schedule, you can find him doing what he does best. “I’ve been acting since I was a child,” he says. “It wasn’t until much later I decided to make a career of it.”
Sader is well known in Richmond theater circles. Last year he played King Lear, a role that won him best actor from Richmond Critics’ Circle and also played the role of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His latest work was on the motion picture, Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg
“I will continue to do theater and movies as opportunities present themselves,” he says. “And I hope to continue to do commercials and represent ChildFund as well. My wife is an artist, my oldest daughter is married and my youngest is a junior at Virginia Tech – so life is good.”
I expected to hear nothing less from a man who uses his talents to change lives around the world.
Posters and billboards of ChildFund are popping up around the country. And we need your help in locating them.
The posters are showing up in malls and airports (one was spotted at LAX) and the billboards are currently in the Richmond, Va., area.
When you spot one, be sure to snap a photo of it. Even better, have someone take your picture standing beside the poster and upload it to our Facebook wall or Tweet us (@ChildFund) the photo link. Be among the first 100 people to send in a photo and get a ChildFund wristband.
Be sure to include your name and location. We’ll feature the “Where’s ChildFund?” photos on our social media sites to generate more discussion about the critical needs of children globally.
It’s all part of a public service campaign now under way to raise awareness of ChildFund and the work we do to change the lives of children living in poverty.
Will you help us make the world better for children? It can start with a simple photo to increase awareness of the work we do every day.
Do children from different parts of the globe live, play and relate to their world in the same way?
To answer this question, ChildFund facilitated a Friends Around the World project with the Richmond FRIENDS Association for Children.
The project connected two schools in Africa with a school in Richmond, Va. All three schools were asked to document interactions among classmates and provide an overview of life in their communities.
The purpose of the project was to open windows into the lives of children living in very different parts of the world.
This video, which captures highlights from the friendship project, provides insights into what the children learned about their similarities and differences when it comes to school, play time, music and daily life.
by Virginia Sowers
ChildFund Community Manager
Six members of the ChildFund regional communications staff traveled last week from Panama, Mexico, Kenya, Ethiopia, Thailand and India to Richmond, Va., for a planning meeting with the communications staff at headquarters.
Many of us had never met face to face, having relied on e-mail, Skype and the occasional phone call to form our relationships. Yet, it quickly felt like a meeting of old friends.
You see, we’re all bound by the work of ChildFund and our commitment to telling the stories of children around the globe so that others will be moved to help.
For five days we pursued the answers to some tough questions. How does our team better support the organizational priorities of ChildFund at a time when resources are limited and the needs of children are so great?
How can we do our jobs better? How can we work faster and more efficiently? What will be our touchstones for the coming year? How will we measure our progress?
Many ideas coalesced following thoughtful sessions from ChildFund staffers leading the Area of Excellence, Disaster Response, Marketing, Business Development and Institutional Learning departments.
We had great brainstorming sessions. We ran through flipchart pads and markers. We hit the wall. We had a break and bounced back. We worked hard. We joked and got better acquainted each evening over dinner.
It was an excellent week—we left with a plan of action for the coming year and the reassuring knowledge that we have friends in all the right places.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
In the past six months or so, a spare cube at our International Office in Richmond, Va., became a giant toy box. One by one, box by box, toys were coming to us from all around the world. “We’re up to our eyeballs in toys,” was a common phrase heard on the fifth floor in our office. It was very true.
But these toys weren’t the latest Elmo or Nintendo Wii accessory or Barbie dolls – these were toys handcrafted by children around the world in the areas ChildFund International works. These toys were soccer balls made out of rubber bands and trash bags; dolls made out of banana bark; toy boats made out of old shoes. These toys were made out of what some people consider trash, but these children created a treasure.
Now these toys will be shown in many cities throughout the United States in the next year in an exhibit called “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure.” Currently an exhibit is at the Boston Children’s Museum – if you’re in that area you better hurry as the exhibit’s last day is Saturday, Aug. 1.
A “Power to Play” exhibit is also currently on display at the Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, Va., through Aug. 21. Since we’re headquartered in Richmond, we wanted to kickoff the exhibit in our backyard.
The collection of more than 350 toys shows real imagination and creativity for using locally available materials that were often scrap or discarded by others. Some of the toys are unique to their place of origin; some tell the story of the social, economic and political conditions in which children find themselves; others are as universal as the soccer balls and kites that children across three continents have made using exactly the same techniques.
“We are sharing this toy collection as a visible demonstration of how the power to play helps children thrive and become leaders of enduring change in their communities and the world,” says ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard.
Coming Monday: The toy exhibit travels to Washington, D.C., and the National Press Club. We’ll take a closer at that event.
“Our goal is to help children succeed throughout all their life, from infancy to childhood to youth, to make that successful transition into adulthood so they can be leaders in their own communities,” says President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard in the August edition of Richmond Magazine.
Anne is featured on Page 196 of the latest issue, answering questions from about her days in the Peace Corps to her role at ChildFund International to how she feels about living in Richmond. “We want to put down deep roots here,” she says.
Richmond Magazine is an independent publication in Richmond covering a wide variety of subjects including arts and entertainment, health, family and travel. The magazine can be purchased in stores throughout the Richmond area. To read the online version of Anne’s interview, click here.
Today we celebrated our new name and our commitment to the children we serve. See the video above and the photos below of highlights from the event at our International Office in Richmond, Va.
“During my visit to Sierra Leone, one chief said to me that more than anything, children need sponsors. It makes them feel special and wanted and brings out the best in these kids.”
– Mick Foley, well-known wrestler and ChildFund donor since 1992
“Our belief is that the well-being of all children leads to the well-being of the world … if we can help children thrive throughout all stages of life they will become leaders of enduring change … our proud past is a prologue. The work we have done is just the beginning of the work we have yet to do.”
– Anne Lynam Goddard, President and CEO of ChildFund International
“Children are the future; the future of our country; the future of every country; the future of our planet.”
- Jim Lindsey, Richmond-area donor and retired assistant professor from Virginia Commonwealth University
Joining in the celebrating and providing entertainment were Richmond-based Ezibu Muntu African Dance and Cultural Foundation (above photos) and SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) (photo below).
For more information about ChildFund International, visit our Web site at ChildFund.org.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
Anyone who has traveled along Interstate 64 in Richmond, Va., in recent weeks has probably noticed a big tarp covering part of our building. Under that tarp is a new sign with our new name – ChildFund International.
At 11 a.m. this Friday, that tarp is coming down. That day we’ll be celebrating our new name and our work with children around the world.
“We will celebrate our new name and our continuing commitment to serving the world’s deprived, excluded and vulnerable children” says ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard.
In addition to Anne, you’ll hear from ChildFund donors Jim Lindsey, a Richmond resident and retired Virginia Commonwealth University assistant professor, and Mick Foley, the well-known wrestler who, among other contributions, has helped build seven schools in war-torn Sierra Leone.
Entertainment includes performances from Richmond-based Ezibu Muntu African Dance and Cultural Foundation and SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community). Tours of ChildFund’s Kenyan classroom, which features items from a ChildFund program in that country, will be available.
If you plan to attend, please arrive by 10:45 a.m. We are located at 2821 Emerywood Parkway, just off Broad Street near Glenside Drive.
The celebration of ChildFund International’s new name continues at 7 p.m. Friday as “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure,” an exhibit of toys created by children in ChildFund’s programs, debuts at Page Bond Gallery in Richmond.
The collection of more than 350 toys shows real imagination and creativity by children for using locally available materials to design toys of all shapes and sizes that roll, float, peddle or strum. The toys will be on display July 10 through Aug. 21 at the Page Bond Gallery, 1625 W. Main St. Friday’s opening reception is from 7-9 p.m.
For a sneak peek of the toy exhibit, click here to check out a video of children making toys.
For more information about ChildFund International, click here to visit our Web site.