Our family has been invited by various groups to share our story.
These presentations have been a fabulous way for us to re-live our trip and remember all the different experiences we had. We typically do this together, each sharing a different perspective and insight, but we will occasionally present individually.
Riley and Allison were recently invited to keynote to a group of kids and adult mentors at the Friends of the Children campus in Portland. They were asked to share some of their experiences from the trip to bring an international perspective to the kids.
They both took a leap and a deep breath and said YES to not only being the key presenters, but also to creating a presentation from scratch. As Riley and Allison brainstormed topic ideas, passion and purpose kept coming up. Specifically, that when you find your passion it will lead you to your purpose, which is exactly what Duncan Campbell did when he founded Friends of the Children in 1993.
Friends of the Children is an organization that currently serves over 860 children in six cities and two countries with a mission to “help our nation’s highest-risk children develop the relationship, goals and skills necessary to break the cycles of poverty, abuse and violence and become contributing members of society.”
Mr. Campbell himself had a very challenging childhood yet overcame huge obstacles to achieve great success in life. He found his passion through his childhood experiences and he made himself a promise to help other children triumph over their adversity. He fulfilled his promise and founded Friends of the Children. He wove what he had experienced and learned into the Foundation of the program: Start early, train and pay the mentors, stay for the long haul.
His passion to help other children led him to his purpose and the creation of an innovative program that is changing lives.
Studies show that introducing a consistent adult support figure at an early age is the best way to prevent further harm and that is exactly what Friends of the Children is doing in the lives of the children they serve – they are providing friendship and consistent support.
Friends of the Children partners with elementary schools to enroll the most vulnerable kindergarten children. Once the kids are selected, Friends of the Children commits to them through their high school graduation, no matter what.
Friends of the Children is doing something right:
- 92% of their kids attend school regularly
- 85% earn a high school diploma or GED while more than 50% of the youth have a parent that did not complete high school
- 97% are not involved in the juvenile justice system despite having one or more parents who have been incarcerated.
- 98% of adolescents avoid early parenting despite at least 60% having been born to a teen mother.
- Over 50% of the graduates have enrolled in some form of post-secondary education. Nearly all being the first in their families to do so.
What I am sharing with you here is only part of the story. What I can’t convey in this post are the actual stories of the children whose lives have been completely transformed because of this program. The stories have been beautifully written and posted on the Friends of the Children website. I encourage you to take the time to go to the website and read the stories, learn about Friends of the Children and explore ways to help advance their mission. Read some stories here.
Taking action doesn’t only help them, it helps all of us.
If you are still trying to find your passion and purpose, here is something to chew on from Riley: “Every experience teaches you something and moves you closer to your purpose.”
Because of their willingness to say Yes, Riley and Allison learned something about their passions. For example, Allison learned she loved photography, and when she picked up the camera, she said “I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I loved it!”
Finding your passions and purpose isn’t just reserved for international travel. In the words of Riley and Allison, as they wrapped up their first presentation, “Start where you are today and make it a practice to just TRY. You never know where it will lead you.”
To learn more about Friends of the Children, visit: www.friendsofthechildren.org
Click here to learn how you can have Riley and Allison come share their stories with your group.