Thursday, November 23, 2006

CFCA's 25th!

When we serve the poor, we serve Christ. When we deny the poor, we deny Christ.

Five Catholic lay people in Kansas took the gospel at its word. The fruit of their commitment is the organization Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. This service provider of the world's neediest children and seniors celebrates its 25th anniversary. Catholic online has the story:

Twenty-five years ago, a group of lay Catholics from Kansas City agreed the world could benefit from a personalized sponsorship program based on Catholic social teaching and true friendship across borders. Brothers Bob, Bud and Jim Hentzen, their sister Nadine (Hentzen) Pearce and their friend, Jerry Tolle, founded Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, which was incorporated on Nov. 20, 1981. Today, thanks to the generosity of sponsors from all 50 states and 60 countries, CFCA works with more than 310,000 children, youth and aged in 25 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Those sponsored through CFCA receive vital benefits such as food, education, medical care, clothing and training in income-producing trades.

“God has deeply blessed CFCA on its journey across these 25 years,” said CEO Paco Wertin. “CFCA has been shaped by those we have reached out to serve. Grounded in Catholic social teaching, we dedicate ourselves to life-giving relationships that will, over time, transform our world.”

Nov. 20 kicked off a series of commemorations of milestones for the organization, which is based in Kansas City, Kan. The first child was sponsored in the Bogota, Colombia, project in early 1982. In 1984, the organization added sponsorship of the aged and is the only major sponsorship organization to include the aged in its sponsorship program.

In 1988, CFCA hosted its first mission awareness trip to Guatemala. Mission awareness trips provide an opportunity for sponsors to travel to CFCA projects in other countries to meet their sponsored friends and witness the program in action. In 2006, CFCA led 492 travelers on 28 mission awareness trips to 13 countries. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Kansas City, Kan., archdiocese is CFCA’s Silver Jubilee sponsor. Archbishop Naumann sponsors Rolando Condori Vallejos, a third-year seminarian at Mayor Nacional San Jose Seminary in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Besides children, youth and the aged, CFCA offers the opportunity to sponsor candidates studying for religious vocations in developing countries. Co-founders Bob Hentzen, Bud Hentzen and Pearce remain active in CFCA. Bob Hentzen is the organization’s president, overseeing CFCA’s international operations from his home base in Guatemala.

The Blushing Bride and I had individually sponsored a child before we had met. I had been blessed by the experience. The child one sponsors sends letters and a picture to his or her sponsor. I felt so touched by the communication I received from my beneficiary.

As I recall, less than 10% of all donations go toward administrative costs. The rest benefits the recipients of the organizations' mission. Many charities have administrative overhead of at least 33% of donations, and sometimes even higher.

CFCA deserves every Reasonable, Foolable and Fools' support. We can all agree that helping an organization help the poor benefits them and our world. If you can, show CFCA your support. What better way could any of us express our gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day?

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