Four-elevenths ~Amanda Stafford

Today’s article is written by ROOM’s Executive Director, Amanda Stafford.  Amanda shares exciting news about transitions and changes at Reach Out Orphanage Ministries.  She also shares a children’s song, complete with cool dance moves, about ways we can all support children who have been orphaned.

Four-Elevenths

By: Amanda Stafford

ROOM has been empowering children and communities since 2006.  It is currently 2017.  This means Reach Out Orphanage Ministries is eleven years old.  Eleven!

God allowed me to fall in love with ROOM after volunteering in the summer of 2013.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as a full-time staff member since 2014, first as the Director of Operations and then as the Executive Director.  This means I have been a proud ROOM family member for almost four years.  I have been part of four-elevenths of this agency’s ministry efforts to empower children and communities.

AS blog 5.17 four elevenths

Between fussing at people about receipts and attempting to comprehend payroll tax processes, I have actually played a small role in some big things here.  I helped the children at Bethel Orphanage in Orissa, India gain their own private bathroom facilities.  I helped take the first baby steps to establish ROOM Nepal.  I helped advocate for increased Honduras Orphanage Care resources.  I said “no” to a lot of great ideas, so ROOM could say “yes” to our core calling.  Most notably, I managed boring, behind-the-scenes details that empowered ROOM’s staff and missionaries- the amazing world-changers who I admire and respect so deeply- to meet the urgent needs of children who have been abandoned.  This is my greatest accomplishment:  I helped the helpers help our kids.  (My second-greatest accomplishment is our paperwork management system:  Those. Files. Are. Fierce.)

My last four years looked something like this:

This month (May, 2017) will be my last month as ROOM’s Executive Director.

I have been accepted into the University of South Carolina’s Social Work PhD program where I will have the opportunity to take what I learned about child abandonment in the field, and build on this in the classroom.  Through academia, I aspire to generate more research and resources for children struggling with abandonment and poverty.  I aim to use this platform to smash some of the roadblocks standing in the way of ROOM, and agencies like ROOM, as they seek to create a world where all God’s children will grow up in loving, forever families.

USC announcement

It feels exciting to pass my ROOM leadership baton to people I truly respect and admire.  In the last few months, Ali B. has accepted a promotion from India Country Coordinator to Southeast Asia Director (managing both ROOM India and ROOM Nepal).  Ali became involved with ROOM at a young age, and in the blink of a eye, has become a professional country director, advocate, foster mother, expert on the Southeast Asian orphan crisis and an international child welfare leader.  Kacey Bolin has accepted a promotion from Honduran Missionary to Honduras Country Director.  Kacey’s long resume filled with ministry roles, leadership experiences, a strong educational background and professional connections, combined with her inspiring faith in God and strong drive for a mission-focused ministry, makes her a highly-qualified fit for this important calling.  Cassie Murray has accepted a promotion from Honduras Country Director to Ministry Director (a Stateside, administrative role).  Cassie’s vast experiences at ROOM, from launching ROOM Costa Rica to managing ROOM’s Transition Home in Honduras, to serving as a ROOM foster mother, mentoring other foster mothers, leading mission teams, managing programs and serving as a bridge between ROOM family members in the States to ROOM activities in Honduras, have prepared her to manage ROOM as a whole; not just Honduras, but India and Nepal through Stateside operations as well!

ROOM’s Board of Directors is prayerfully beginning the process of hiring a new Executive Director.  I know they will find someone truly wonderful; someone who is able to provide better leadership and direction than I ever could; someone who will empower this ministry to do even greater things for God’s kingdom.  In the meantime, the Stateside leadership void is being filled by three women I supremely admire:  Cassie Murray, Traci Cline and Kristie Lauderbaugh.  Kristie is providing part-time bookkeeping and financial management for ROOM.  She’s phenomenally talented and experienced with numbers.  Traci Cline has served on ROOM’s Board of Directors since 2012.   She is currently serving a second term as Board President.  In addition to this Board leadership role, Traci will be providing staff leadership and management to empower ROOM’s program teams to continue their successful orphan care programs.  There is no one better equipped to serve as a leader, manager and figurehead during this season of change.

I see other ROOM leaders holding on firm to their commitments while taking on new roles.  Missionary Kaylie Kuhn, ROOM’s longest tenured team member, is fiercely standing strong in her calling to care for her child, Lizzie, while advocating for best practices in family reintegration and working hard to provide for the boys at Hogar Santidad orphanage (they’re getting a severely-needed new roof and ceiling!).  Missionaries Todd and Wendy Boyle are Co-Directors of Abba Padre International (a ministry ROOM is proud to partner with), Co-Directors of ROOM’s Transition Home and strong leaders of ROOM Honduras as a whole.  Wendy continues to manage legal and accounting requirements in Honduras, while taking on new responsibilities overseeing and empowering ROOM’s Foster Families.

In addition, ROOM’s Board of Directors are taking on new, greater fundraising responsibilities while building on their commitments to provide accountability and oversight.

These transitions are all so good!  They are so exciting!  I can see this phenomenal ministry getting stronger and more whole as each of these world-changers take on new roles and greater responsibilities, while standing firm in their long-standing ministry commitments.

The understandable amount sadness I feel about leaving is quickly replaced by excitement for what is next for ROOM.

When I close my eyes, I can see God’s calling coming to fruition.  With every “yes” from ROOM’s team, another piece of ROOM’s ministry is made stronger.  More children served with more and better resources.  Better communications.  Tighter networks.  Stronger programs.

Through our Lord, ROOM has done amazing things over the last eleven years.  Still, I know ROOM’s best days are ahead.

1 peter 1_6

As I’m planning my last two weeks of work and handing over the last few jangling keys on my director ring, I keep smiling that the biggest lesson I learned is also the simplest:  We can all help children who have been orphaned. 

With my remaining space, I’d like to share a song that is sure to climb the iTunes charts (depending on how litigious the ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ people prove themselves to be), called If You Want to Help the Orphans.  This song will make sure I’m leaving ROOM the same way I entered ROOM:  Weird, full of good intentions and overflowing with confidence that everyone will get my particular, peculiar brand of humor.

This song is dedicated to everyone who has ever asked me “How can I help the orphans” and politely listed to me suggest the following ways we can all empower children who have been orphaned or abandoned in our own communities and in developing nations on the other side of our world.

 

If You Want to Help the Orphans

(To the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”)

 

If you want to help the orphans, write a check (*make hand motion of check-writing*)

If you want to help the orphans, write a check (*make hand motion of check-writing*)

Your money will provide, food, clothes, healthcare, education.

If you want to help the orphans, write a check!

 

If you want to help the orphans, volunteer (*flex arm muscle*)

If you want to help the orphans, volunteer (*flex arm muscle*)

They need you to learn their names.  They need you to teach them games.

If you want to help the orphans, volunteer!

 

If you want to help the orphans, please adopt (*make hand motion of completing paperwork*)

If you want to help the orphans, please adopt (*make hand motion of completing paperwork*)

You’ll be their forever-parent.  They’ll be your forever-child.

If you want to help the orphans, please adopt!

 

If you want to help the orphans, foster parent (*make arm motion of rocking a baby*)

If you want to help the orphans, foster parent (*make arm motion of rocking a baby*)

Kids need homes and kids need love: for a day, for years and years.

If you want to help the orphans, foster parent!

 

If you want to help the orphans, pray for ROOM (*touch palms together as if praying*)

If you want to help the orphans, pray for ROOM (*touch palms together as if praying*)

ROOM’s got some big transitions, prayers are needed for success,

If you want to help the orphans, pray for ROOM!

 

Dear donors, dear friends, dear ROOM family members.  Thank you for allowing me to drive this bus for the last few years.  Thank you for trusting me as a boss and as a decision-maker.  Thank you for teaching me things I could never learn from books.  Thank you for empowering me and enabling me to continue to serve children who have been orphaned by pursuing a doctoral degree in Social Work.  I will always treasure my time at ROOM.  I cannot wait to see what God has in store for ROOM’s ministry for the next eleven years!

For more information about ROOM, or if a catchy tune recently moved you to write a check, volunteer and/ or pray for Reach Out Orphanage Ministries, please visit our website.

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