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Blessed to Be Part of the Team (#GrowDeep)
by Julie Cramer
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Orphan Outreach is celebrating a decade of care for orphans and vulnerable children, and we're inviting our US-based staff to share their thoughts about the ministry and its mission - and we're giving a sneak peek into their lives and loves. Jennifer Burke is a behind-the-scenes dynamo who always has a smile on her face, no matter the event or project. As Marketing and Development Coordinator, caring for donors and partners is her passion - and Orphan Outreach's mission is a perfect purpose. 




Jennifer Burke shed the sweaters needed in her western Pennsylvania hometown for breezier blouses when she moved south to attend Wingate University in North Carolina. A philosophy major “with the intention of going to law school,” Jennifer soon discovered God had something else in mind. Switching gears, she entered the world of recruiting, setting up call centers around the country and working a side hustle in event planning. In 1999 her employer transferred her to the DFW Metro, where she has since put down some roots.

“I met my husband, Daniel, here; got married here; and had babies here—Daniel, 8; Clare, 6; and James, 4,” she says. She also met her current co-workers here years before Orphan Outreach existed, when they all worked at another nonprofit agency. In 2015, she rejoined her former colleagues in the Orphan Outreach missions department, and this past February, she transitioned to the role of marketing and development coordinator.

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“As soon as I started, we hit the ground running on all the invitations and reservations for the Fourth Annual Children’s Hope Dinner,” which was held on April 27 at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel, she says. The event sold out, with 600 people attending the gala to celebrate Orphan Outreach’s 10th Anniversary. The speakers were Brittany Underwood, founder of Akola, and former First Lady Laura Bush. Enabled by a band of 40 volunteers, the event netted more than $350,000.

“Brittany Underwood was in college when she took a mission trip to Africa, and from that one trip has come this whole jewelry company. It’s amazing,” Jennifer says. “And the former First Lady … you don’t always expect people in her position to have a heart for women and children, to make sure children are educated, and to see that she is genuine about the passions she has … it was eye-opening and moving for me.”

After returning to the work of orphan care, Jennifer has seen ministry strategies change. One hallmark of Orphan Outreach is its commitment to choose the best options for the children, she says. “The way they assess each ministry opportunity to make sure it’s in the best interests of the kids is amazing. When I’m talking to people about ways in which they can get involved, I have no hesitation telling them that if they give money, it will be used for the kids. I can tell them, ‘Without a shadow of a doubt, this is a great organization. You’re in good hands.’ There’s a certain sense of family here that you don’t find everywhere.”

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When she isn’t with her work family, Jennifer can be found in Frisco, a suburb north of Dallas, with her own small brood. A self-described “soccer and cheerleading mom,” Jennifer serves on the PTA board of her children’s elementary school and sells real estate with her husband, who—after 20 years in ministry—launched the family business.

“Between family, kids, and work, there isn’t much time” for dreaming up more to-do lists, she says. “But one day we would like to take our kids to Ireland and Scotland to show them where their ancestors are from, and the county for which my daughter, Clare, was named.” In the meantime, she stays on top of it all by staying in shape. She rises each morning for Camp Gladiator, an outdoor “boot camp style” fitness class, the intensity of which warrants a stop afterward at Summer Moon Wood-fired Coffee for the secret drink, which, she says, “is like a latte, but with sweet milk.”

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Whether it’s at a PTA meeting, on the field with her cardio cohorts, or at the local splash pool, Jennifer never misses a chance to talk about her heart’s passion—caring for orphaned children.

“I want to continually raise awareness about Orphan Outreach because I feel strongly that it is doing work that makes a difference,” she says. “You have to touch people where their passion is, to communicate the children’s needs in a way that speaks to each person. I’m learning how to do that in my area of influence—in my neighborhood and my kids’ school by telling others, ‘This is what I do. This is what I’m a part of.’ I’m so thankful for it. I am blessed to be a part of the team.”


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