Grand Rapids, Mich., August 13, 2012 - Fresh off the successful introduction of its One Family campaign in Knoxville (Tenn.), leading family preservation agency, Bethany Christian Services, has announced that Grand Rapids (Mich.) will be partnered with Chichicastenango (Chichi) of Guatemala in the unique community-based program matching U.S. cities with cities abroad.
The primary objective of the One Family initiative is to provide critical support to communities in need around the world in the development of sustainable family preservation services to ensure that children who have lost one or both parents to war, AIDS, disease, abandonment, poverty, or natural disaster receive the love and nurturing they require.
During its inaugural One Family campaign this past spring, Bethany raised more than $90,000 in Knoxville to support children and families in crisis in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). Bethany is now pairing its hometown of Grand Rapids with Chichi based on the West Michigan city's rich history of compassion and commitment to human welfare and the Guatemalan city's desperate need for support-more than 75 percent of Chichi's population lives in poverty. With little nutritional food to eat other than corn and beans, as well as scarce educational opportunities-girls are discouraged from attending beyond third grade and many children drop out of school to help earn household income-the children of Chichi are hurting.
"When a child is hurting anywhere in the world, we all suffer, because we are one family under God," said Bill Blacquiere, Bethany president. "Placing children whose parents have died or who cannot care for them in orphanages is not a viable solution. To make a long-term difference in the lives of those who are struggling, we must work with developing nations by introducing effective child welfare and social services, along with job training programs so that the cycle of poverty and child neglect ends."
Now through October, Bethany Christian Services will work closely with local organizations-such as churches, schools, and businesses-to develop partnerships to assist in funding vital care efforts in Chichi. As a key part of the One Family initiative, Pastor Julian Guzman of the Council of Missionary Churches of Christ; Stephanie Webb of WZZM's Take Five; Maranda of WOOD TV; Nancy Bykerk, an adoptive mother; and Kristen Aidif, director of the Fifth Third River Bank Run traveled to Chichi to participate in a once in-a-lifetime trip to view firsthand the challenges the city faces.
One Family efforts in Grand Rapids will culminate the week of October 21 with a series of fundraising events hosted by local church and community partners. During these events, Bethany will seek 1,000 "sponsors" for children and families in Chichi. Sponsorships will help meet the individualized needs of children and their families-from food and shelter to school fees and job training-and are $30/month.
"The Grand Rapids community has developed a well-deserved reputation for providing critical support to those most in need," Blacquiere said. "Given the generous support our organization has received from this community since its founding more than 65 years ago, I'm confident that Grand Rapids will embrace the One Family campaign to help vulnerable children in Chichicastenango."
For more information on the One Family campaign or to find out how you can get involved, please visit www.bethanyonefamily.org/GR or call 1-888-242-8332.
Courtesy: Bethany Christian Services