...and most of all, hope
— Mary Kathryn Tiller · Tuesday, March 12, 2019 —
Many people spend their lives seeking the one place their passions, interests, and skills intersect. Trey Velvin found that place ten years ago, in Orphan Outreach.
Trey and his wife, Dee, live in the Dallas metroplex with their three children. A life-long learner and admirer of cultures, Trey recently graduated with a Masters from Southern Methodist University in Global Studies. Through that program he has traveled the world, exploring different countries and their human rights policies.
Vocationally, Trey works in equity and finance, where it is his job to consider metrics and measurable outcomes. Trey draws on all of these experiences and skills in his position on the board as Chair of the Programs Committee.
“I've been on boards whose members sit around and rubber-stamp whatever is going on.” Trey shares. “But, this is not that kind of board. Over the last several years, we’ve developed committees that focus on specific tasks. My goal for this year is to find a way to measure our success or lack of success within the organization. I want to create metrics in a way that is meaningful, but not unduly burdensome to the staff.”
Trey has served on the board for five years; but, he first encountered Orphan Outreach ten years ago when his wife and daughter were invited on a mother-daughter trip to Guatemala.
“My daughter went to school with Tiffany Wine’s daughter and Tiffany invited several girls from that class to go to Guatemala. Their trip resulted in the formation of Women for Orphans Worldwide, which my wife became very involved in. The next year we took a trip as a family and I’ve been involved ever since,” Trey remembers.
Since that time, Trey has gone on ten trips with Orphan Outreach. His family has traveled with him on eight of those trips, but two he took on his own, to visit potential ministry partners and consider their viability within Orphan Outreach.
“There is definitely a difference when you're traveling with family. When the kids are with you, it’s an educational experience for them. Getting to work on specific building projects is a lot of fun. I particularly love bringing other families and friends on those trips. It's always fun for me to see them experience what I've experienced. When I travel by myself, it's usually mission-specific; we're going down to work on or look at a new project. It's a different style really, all business.”
Trey has had the opportunity to see several partnerships develop over the last five years; he has also seen a handful dissolve. To his mind, this is all a part of the life cycle of a ministry like Orphan Outreach. The question is not whether these things will happen, but how will they be handled when they do.
“There's an emotional charge to our work, you know. You take people on mission trips and they get attached to the kids and partner organizations they serve, ” says Trey. “But I have learned in order to be effective, you have to treat it as a business. Orphan Outreach cannot tolerate partners who aren't willing to work within our standard of care and best practices. I appreciate the fact that we will walk away if certain things come to light.
“When that happens, the staff is really good at contacting our donors, being honest with the sponsors, and finding a way to plug them into other partnerships within the ministry. I think we've done a good job handling those transitions, so far,” says Trey.
In addition to handling transitions within the organization well, Trey believes Orphan Outreach has developed a necessary level of adaptability within the international community. Spanning five of the world’s continents, Orphan Outreach operates within a broad and changing landscape.
“I think many people see the name ‘Orphan Outreach’ and think of us finding street urchins and placing them in a residential care facility like in Oliver Twist, but it is so much more than that,” Trey explains. “Residential care is becoming a smaller part of caring for orphans. In fact, the definition of ‘orphan’ is changing. UNICEF defines an orphan to be ‘a child under 18 years old who has lost one or both parents.’ We serve more than the double orphans living in an orphanage. We serve children who are each experiencing a variety of circumstances in their life.”
To address these differences, Orphan Outreach operates on a continuum of care. This approach provides a range of options to meet the myriad situations in which these children are found. The continuum of care considers, not only the child in residential care but also at-risk families, alternative living situations, education, special needs accommodations, and living skills for children that have “aged out” of their systems.
To Trey, this is what it means to serve orphans well: finding the best solution with the resources available to provide a child (and his or her caregivers) with food, clothes, shelter, education, emotional support, consistency, and most of all hope.
Trey has seen this most recently accomplished at the ACK Madeleine School near Bungoma, Kenya. Orphan Outreach drilled a well for the school in 2018, bringing a freshwater source, not only to the school but to the surrounding community.
“Before the well was dug, the rain would fall into gutters and flow into these huge jugs. I use to watch the kids shake those jugs to get water out of them because the nearest water source was several miles away,” explains Trey. “So many of them were sick with malaria and other diseases that come with a lack of clean water. Bringing water to their school and medical clinic is one thing we can point to as having made a tangible difference in their quality of life.”
Trey hopes to see Orphan Outreach continue on the path of serving orphaned and vulnerable children well and making a tangible difference in their communities. You can be part of that difference by joining us as a sponsor, partner, or mission team member.