RE/PROM – Party With Purpose

A group of incredible CARE for AIDS supporters recently hosted a party with purpose called RE/PROM. The party was a Valentines Day prom do-over for adults, all with the goal of raising money to support the CARE for AIDS center in Kariobangi. We sat down with Ashley Nolan, the team lead for the event, to get some insight into their planning process:

How did you first get involved with CARE for AIDS?

My husband (Jon), our eight-year-old son, and I went to Kenya in September of 2013 with the goal of finding one or two organizations we could partner with long-term. We visited five or so different groups while were in Kenya. We prayed, asked a lot of questions, and tried to sift through the emotions we felt while facing so much need. There are so many opportunities to write checks, but we wanted something more.

We brought our son on his first trip ever on an airplane, across continents, because our desire is for our family to live for something bigger than ourselves. We felt like we found the perfect partner in CARE for AIDS. Out of eight organizations I had visited on a prior trip to Uganda, and the five we visited during our trip to Kenya, CARE for AIDS is the organization we decided to invest in long-term.

The mission resonated with us, particularly because of the emphasis on orphan prevention. We are an adoptive family, and while we could find no further joy than walking with other families through that process, there just aren’t many out there that have taken that step. So, while adoption is so huge for us, we realized that orphan prevention is the best long-term strategy and something we really want to put our time and our resources behind.

We had the opportunity to do some home visits with former and current clients, and were so impressed by the Kenyans running each center. They were loving and kind while also very firm when they needed to be. I was truly seeing the Gospel lived out in a way I have only seen a handful of times in the U.S.

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How did you decide to involve your friends and community in supporting the Kariobangi Center?

My husband, Jon, has an incredible gifting in leadership. He was the one who envisioned us creating a leadership team that would rally together for something with an eternal impact. Our church does small group multiplication, and while we love the model, we are always sad at the end of two years to split our small group up. This team is made up of family and friends we have met through those groups.

We started by setting up dinners to cast vision for what we wanted the group to be, and asked people to pray about becoming a part of it. We truly thought half of the people would be on board because of what we specifically asked of them personally, and what we were asking them to do long term. We were shocked when almost every person wanted to join the team!

We decided that each person would be responsible for donating a certain amount of money on a monthly basis and also raising a certain amount of financial support monthly. Your heart seems to follow your money, so if we couldn’t get financial buy-in we figured people wouldn’t stick around for too long. Plus, it is a challenge to ask others to support something close to your heart, BUT, what is at stake is so precious.

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Tell us about the idea for re/prom…how did you come up with it?

ReProm was an idea by my brother-in-law, Matt. He is incredibly creative and high energy, and also a great leader. While he was living in Florida, he used to host dance similar dance parties, so he had the idea of doing one of those here to benefit the Kariobangi center. With a team of very creative women who desire romance out of a Valentine’s Day party, it morphed into a more deluxe version of the original idea.

 

View More: http://aleamoore.pass.us/reprom2015

What was the hardest part of planning this event?

Probably the biggest challenge was that, while everyone on the team started as good friends of ours, they were not all good friends on their own. They put an incredible amount of trust in Jon and me to buy into something like this with people they hadn’t done life with before. While I think it was a challenge at first learning to trust each other to come through when we delegated responsibilities, to stay in budget and to do things with excellence, in the end it was an incredibly unifying experience.

The other challenge was simply the time involved. We all have kids, family and jobs that we are responsible for and we were planning and event that required massive amounts of time and energy.

View More: http://aleamoore.pass.us/reprom2015

What was your favorite part of the planning process?

We had some fun meetings – brainstorming and laughing together as a team to dream up some of the things we did. Prom King and Queen was Joni’s idea and that was a very special part of the evening. I think I mostly enjoyed the process of setting up and seeing this black recording space turn into something magical and romantic. It was so neat to be part of the process.

What is a favorite moment from re/prom…any great stories that came out of the evening?

My favorite part was being there! I love dressing up once in awhile and feeling fancy, so that was really fun. At the beginning of the night, when people started coming in, and we were already blasting music and dancing together as a team in celebration that we had actually pulled this off, there was this moment of, “people are showing up!” They trusted us enough to buy tickets and their own fancy dresses and corsages. Some rented limos and hotel rooms to make it a big date night. I can almost feel the adrenaline rushing back to me even as I remember those moments. It was so special. Some of us on the team aren’t even big dancers and we were so pumped up from everything – we were breaking it down the whole night!

My other favorite part was seeing each person on our team take ownership of the event and use the skills they have to make each part of the night so great! One cool story was that one couple who came were unable to attend their high school prom, and they actually won Prom King and Prom Queen for the evening!

View More: http://aleamoore.pass.us/reprom2015

What’s next for you and your team?

We are already planning for ReProm for 2016! We also have our next event coming up on April 25. It is called the East Cobb Red Run. It’s a 5k race we are putting on with a 1 mile fun run. You can get all the details at www.eastcobbredrun.com We are really excited about that, and have some big runners on our team, so that should be blast! They told me if I run, I don’t have to be there at 5am, so I’m thinking about running my first race ever!

What advice would you give to other young couples wanting to get involved with CARE for AIDS in a creative way?

Wow, that’s a good question. I would tell them to be brave and trust God to work out the details. When you get on board with caring for the orphan, the sick, the widow – He shows up EVERY time.

Throughout the first few months of trying to get a group together, truthfully, I kept wanting to bail. It would have been easier I think to send out letters, make some calls and ask for donations, because we were already so passionate about the cause and the people. We had seen the faces of joy on the clients who had graduated the program, but we also saw many waiting to start the program, some on the brink of death. The extra energy required to cast vision and pour out our hearts to people who maybe did not have our same passions required a lot of focus and vision (vision that my husband had!). God has truly multiplied our effort and has moved to create this team. I think ReProm helped the team become more focused. It was a unique opportunity to see everyone leverage their strengths and I think it gave the team a greater sense of purpose. Some people who were hesitant to visit Kenya are now more motivated to see the faces of the people they are working for. It’s been incredibly humbling to be part of something bigger than we imagined.

View More: http://aleamoore.pass.us/reprom2015

 

 

 

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How to Leave

As many of you know, Cornel and his family recently moved from Kisumu back to Nairobi. He and Duncan now work together in the Nairobi office, so we sat down with Cornel to learn about how he transitioned leadership in Kisumu before the big move…

How did you prepare the Kisumu Regional Coordinator to take over the leadership role before you made the move back to Nairobi? 

I have an acronym for the steps I believe one should take when transitioning leadership roles. The acronym is MAWL:

M: Model When we first decided that I would join Duncan in Nairobi, I began to prepare Geoffrey to take over the Kisumu region by simply having him watch and see how I do what I do. I opened three centers and had him come along to see how I engaged the pastors and how I managed all of the moving pieces.

A: Assist After a few months of having a new leader watch, it is time to let them take charge of matters and to simply assist them. At first, this is a 50/50 division of work, but over time the new leader’s responsibilities should increase until you reach the next phase…

W: Watch For me, this was when I had handed everything over to Geoffrey. He no longer needed my assistance on a daily basis, but I was still there to watch, take notes, and correct as needed. It is important to allow people to make mistakes at this point- you learn so much from mistakes, and of course the leader who is transitioning will still be there to help fix any mistakes that are made.

L: Leave For me, this was when I moved back to Nairobi. I still visit Kisumu all the time, on a monthly basis, in fact, to make sure that everything is going well. But I trust that Geoffrey is a great leader and I can now lead better in Nairobi knowing that the staff in Kisumu is able to run everything smoothly.

One of the most important things to remember in a process like this is that a good leader allows people to make mistakes, and that delegation is a very good thing. True leaders do not cling to power, they invite others into leadership!

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Cornel

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The Power of a Meal

This morning’s post is from guest blogger Jarrod Fucci, the Regional Manager for the Northeast at Feeding Children Everywhere. 

For about two and a half years, Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) has had the distinct pleasure of engaging in a unique partnership with CARE for AIDS. Throughout this partnership, thousands of volunteers have gathered across the United States to hand package over a million healthy meals to be delivered to centers around the Nairobi, Kenya area. These years have brought tremendous amounts of growth and impact for both CARE for AIDS and Feeding Children Everywhere.

During the initial years of the partnership we had heard about the incredible lives impacted by the CARE for AIDS program and were in awe of the photos and stories but we were longing for more. On August 20, 2014, Cigna, one of the world’s largest insurance companies made the commitment to package 250,000 meals for CARE for AIDS. The project planned to take place on November 5, 2014, would end up becoming the largest service initiative known in company history. At this point, we knew it was time for FCE to experience the impact first-hand and meet the CARE for AIDS team, clients and friends carrying out this incredible mission every day.

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On January 27, 2015 FCE Founder/CEO Don Campbell, Hunger Project Coordinator, Madison Campbell and myself boarded a flight to Kenya. I can comfortably say there were a slew of emotions shared among us. Eagerness, nervousness but most importantly genuine excitement to witness the astonishing work being done on the ground in Nairobi.

Day one was absolutely breathtaking; we spent the afternoon at the Kariobangi center where I had the chance to sit alongside Gladys, the Health Counselor at this particular center. It was incredible hearing the wisdom she spoke into the lives of client after client about how imperative health was to their well-being. What was even better was how receptive each client was to her guidance. Following each consultation, I was able to give them a Feeding Children Everywhere meal. Putting our meal directly into the hands of someone who really needed it was like nothing I had experienced over the course of my tenure at Feeding Children Everywhere.

Our time in Nairobi only got better on day two. We had the opportunity to participate in client home visits, something unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. Hearing the stories of difficult times is never easy but the overwhelming stories we heard of brighter days and hope for a long healthy future ahead rocked our world. One visit in particular took our breath away. During this visit we were introduced to Grace, a mother of three strong and healthy children. Grace was so full of spirit, happiness and hope. Grace’s smile radiated enough energy to make the afternoon Nairobi sun seem dim in comparison. We concluded day two with cooking dinner at a client’s home, Janet. Feeding Children Everywhere started around a dining room table, a precious place bringing together family, great conversation and fellowship. Rounding out an unforgettable day around a table with our new friends was a gift directly from God.

Day three brought us the opportunity to participate in a center graduation, a time like none other. Many of the faces we bonded with the day prior were slated to graduate that next day and sharing that moment with them compared to nothing I had ever experienced. As a recent college graduate, I thought I knew how exciting this time was, but my graduation did not compare to the energy in the Church where the CARE for AIDS graduation took place. Hearing the testimonies, joining in song and dance (lots of dance) was electric. None of us could name a time where we have felt so uplifted.

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As fast as our trip had begun only three days prior, it was time for our final day before we returned back to our “normal” lives, but not without one more unforgettable experience. We spent our final morning joining the CARE for AIDS staff for their weekly staff meeting. This was a time full of so much love and empowerment. As a leader at Feeding Children Everywhere it left me with so many incredible practices to take home to my team, including a song or two to get our staff loosened up. Sharing time and space with the individuals carrying out CARE for AIDS’ mission and ultimately radically changing the lives of countless clients was more rewarding than I could express.

Walking away from our time in Kenya, I can comfortably say that I am forever changed and the landscape of my life and work already looks dramatically different. What we do at Feeding Children Everywhere is so much more than just provide food and our time with the CARE for AIDS team helped me realize that. Our meal is important, but what happens when someone receives a healthy meal, what they are able to accomplish is the real outcome of our work.

The common theme expressed when we would ask someone how they liked the meal was that it made them feel strong. The meal helped them become strong enough to live and allows them to be fully present when they are going through the CARE for AIDS program. Ultimately, allowing them to learn skills to live a full and long life after the program. Thank you is not enough for what I have to say to the entire CARE for AIDS team who made this opportunity possible for us. This is just the beginning of a partnership that will span the lifetime of two great organizations.

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