The Bridges We Need to Connect Our World
— Ronne Rock · Tuesday, July 31, 2018 —
She would much rather be behind the stage than on it. Leadership comes naturally for Jimmy Westcott, recipient of the 2018 Children’s Hope Award, and that leadership has always been laser-focused on elevating others to meet philanthropic need. Finding herself standing before a sell-out crowd as they honored her work was humbling. And so, Jimmy did what she loves to do – she transformed an acceptance speech into a personal testimony to elevate the cause of orphans around the world.
“Everyone in this room has come to know Orphan Outreach in different ways - some of us through friends, some through adoptions, social media, churches and Women for Orphans Worldwide, the women's auxiliary group that focuses on Guatemala. My involvement began five years ago when my good friend, Reb Wayne, convinced me to join an Orphan Outreach mission trip to the orphanages of Russia. I was going through a personal crisis at the time. so I thought, ‘why not?’ I had no idea that this visit would affect my life so deeply.
“After visiting six orphanages in the cold, snowy dark of December in St Petersburg, I realized how the ministry of Orphan Outreach was unbelievable - almost magic. I am naturally curious and I couldn't understand how a small group with a limited budget could do what they were doing to help kids, and I had only seen one country they serve - Russia.
“By definition, an orphan is a person without a parent and often no family at all. No one is in their lives to love them unconditionally, to always to support them. There is no one to accept them without judgment — to teach integrity, purpose, and discipline. All the lessons that kids usually learn from their parents.
“Orphan Outreach fills this need — they give these kids a family, or unconditional family love for sure, but still a group that supports them in big and small ways - people who give them guidance and stability emotionally, financially and spiritually.
“Along with a longing for family, humans share another common trait — we have been blessed with ability to hope. We all hope for different things, but everyone hopes that the next day will be better than the day before. It is hope that gets us through the worst things life throws at us.
“Hope for an orphan can be fragile — even nonexistent. But, thanks to Orphan Outreach, these kids now have hope that their lives will improve, have meaning, love and even joy. They hope that the place that they started will become a distant memory.
“The staff of Orphan Outreach worldwide — starting with the founders Mike Douris, Amy Norton, Amy Seale, and Tiffany Wines — along with Rey Diaz and everyone here in Dallas, and especially the extraordinary people who unselfishly serve in countries all over the world, are often on call 24 hours a day, just like parents. These are not just jobs to them, they are on a mission ... a true calling!
“Orphan Outreach has formed connections in these countries they serve with the children, but also with the directors and staff at each orphanage and most importantly with the government officials and civic leaders that control much of what Orphan Outreach is allowed to do to help. These relationships are nurtured and strengthened with so much respect that Orphan Outreach can really change lives. Orphan Outreach gives these kids families; they give them hope.
“People often ask, ‘Why orphans? Why orphans in foreign countries?’ We all have many groups that we like to help - there are many charities, churches and families that need and deserve our help right here in Dallas, in Texas, and in the USA.
“I too questioned why orphans, but after looking into the faces of the precious kids in Russia and hearing the awful stories about the kids in Guatemala who live in squalor, I had the answer.
“The answer is heart — our hearts — yours and mine. I believe that our hearts have infinite capacity. We can care for and help an unlimited number of kids here in Dallas, in Texas, and the USA — but also in Russia, Guatemala, and all the other countries served by Orphan Outreach.
“The Russian kids I met are just like our kids — they like to sing, dance, play video games, laugh and learn. Some are smart, some are smart alecks, some are funny, some are beautiful — just like American kids — all different, yet just the same.
“But they are important — as valuable to the future as our own kids who are lucky enough to live in the greatest country in the world, the USA.
“I believe — and yes, hope — that the children in these orphanages growing up will remember the kindness and love given to them by goodhearted Americans. I hope these feelings can spread to everyone in their lives throughout their countries."
Then the ladders these orphans climb will become the bridges we need to connect our world.
“We are blessed beyond means. With grateful hearts we can, and should, help kids in need wherever they are.
“It is an honor to be involved in Orphan Outreach, one of the finest groups I have ever worked with.”