I just read an article on non-profits in the U.S. Could hardly believe there are 2 million of 'em out there. The Catherine of Siena Institute is but one of them. We're a bit different in that we make about 85% of our income through goods and services: workshops, seminars, parish missions, talks, and the like. Our website, which is being redesigned, includes a bookstore, through which we sell a variety of discernment resources and books having to do with the lay spiritual life, charisms, and other topics related to our mission.
This organization, begun by lay Catholics, matches sponsors with children, youth, aging and their families of all religious and nonreligious backgrounds so they may live with dignity and achieve their desired potential. “CFCA is a movement of people as much as it is an organization,” said Paco Wertin, CEO of the foundation. “Our relationships are based on integrity and accountability, which permeates all of our behavior.” As a result, “the accountability ratings are very important to us, to our sponsors and our sponsored,” Wertin said. The foundation offers donors comfort by being rated by the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator (four stars) and the American Institute of Philanthropy (“A+”) -- top of the class in terms of governance, management, and financial accountability.
I have been very impressed with this organization from the beginning. I have sponsored two little girls (now young adults!) from the Philippines, and encourage you to consider sponsorship. Your donation of $30.00/month helps provide young people around the globe with education, food, medical care. CFCA also connects people with elderly folks, too. They have serious medical needs as well.
CFCA is an excellent example of lay Catholics seeing a need, and asking themselves, "what can I/we do about this?" Armed with a love and knowledge of Catholic social teaching, three brothers, their sister, and a friend decided to do something about the effects of poverty on the most vulnerable: the very young and the very old. Here's a bit of their history:
CFCA began in 1981 through the visionary leadership of the Hentzen brothers Jim, Bud and Bob, their sister Nadine Pearce and their good friend Jerry Tolle. Both Bob Hentzen and Jerry Tolle had been missionaries in Central and South America for many years. When they returned to the U.S., they had a desire to continue helping the people they once served.
Early on they decided upon sponsorship as the perfect opportunity not only to provide ongoing help for the poor, but also to allow the poor to share their gifts with people in the United States. Both Bob and Jerry emphasized sponsorship as a "two-way street" that preserves the dignity of the sponsored person and depends on personal outreach from sponsors. The mission statement CFCA follows today conveys the same ideas and principles.
CFCA's first office was in the basement of Bob Hentzen's home. Within a few years, the small staff moved to an abandoned farmhouse in Kansas City, Mo. Finally, in 1991, CFCA purchased an old warehouse in an industrial district close to downtown Kansas City where CFCA could also be a visible presence in the local community.
It's now a $100 million/year non-profit, and nearly 99% of their income goes to meet the needs of the needy. Here's how CFCA describes themselves: "We don't see poverty. We see potential. CFCA believes in the potential of the poor to effect change in their own lives and in our world. We help families in developing countries put food on the table, send their children to school, access health care and have a decent place to live so that together, we can end the cycle of poverty."
What's also great about CFCA, is that it's not just about handouts. They are doing some really innovative things to help people become self-sufficient in the production of their own food. Here's an example:
In addition, education is key in helping the next generation have more opportunities than the previous one. I am happy that my sponsor child, Jeny, who is 19, has finished school and has been given job training as well. She writes to me excitedly about the responsibilities of her job, and how proud her family is of her. I'm proud of her, too.
What might God do with you, if you're willing to listen to Him, look around you, examine your gifts and passions, and take a step in faith?