December 16, 2011

960 words 5 mins read

The extraordinary heart of a charity founder

Have you ever thought, “I need to do more for others?”

I have. And I’ve made feeble attempts to satisfy that urge. Feeble.

Still, when I’ve done something “good” for others with no expectation of return, I kind of thump my chest and smile at myself in the mirror like I’m some kind of big shot.

Then my wife introduced me to Valerie Hays, and I realized how much more a person can do.

In 2007, Valerie and her husband, John, decided to start a charity. Their aim was to adopt a single orphanage in Kenya to help people suffering from hunger, illness, and cold. Here’s why:

When you hold an orphan child in your arms, and tell them that you care about them and that you will do what you can to help them live a long and healthy life…..well you can’t break that promise.

In America, the number one health problem of those living in poverty is obesity. In Kenya, the poor deal with AIDS, starvation, and death from illnesses that we consider mild inconveniences.

Valerie and John pour their vast wealth into . . . oh, wait. She’s a school counselor, and he’s a cop. As if they don’t already do enough service to the world, they began this mission without massive treasure. Valerie told me

[I am] far from a millionaire- but so incredibly blessed. My God owns the hills and the cattle on them. He has always provided. I always pay for my own trips, I never use Mercy’s Hope funds for trips. To me there is not another place I would rather spend my vacation money than [Kenya].

How do they fund their mission? Every way imaginable. Val-Performing-Village-Books

On Sunday, I had the honor of attending Valerie’s birthday party fundraiser. It was an 80s roller party to raise money.

(You can donate to Mercy’s Hope here.)

Val also runs the Village Bookstore and Coffee in Warrenton, Missouri. Proceeds from the store help fund her mission, which includes her annual summer pilgrimage to work in the orphanage. (This year, she wants my wife to go with her.)

That’s not all.

Valerie’s an accomplished singer and songwriter. On many Saturday nights, you can catch her show at Village Bookstore. Her covers and her original music are worth the trip from St. Louis, as is the coffee and conversation.

Valerie’s commitment to the orphans seems to have grown stronger over the year I’ve known her:

Many people make promises to people in poverty, but few stick with it for long term. I made a promise to God, the children and myself that I would give those children a voice. Not to mention I got a tattoo on my wrist of Africa with the word Hope- so I am in for life.

Some people who work with people in need become depressed, lose hope, or get jaded. Asked if the work gets depressing, Valerie said:

What is more depressing is that people who have, don’t help the sick and oppressed. We have the ability in the US alone to wipe out world hunger-including within our own country. I am not judging- I am saying this to myself as well. If every person would just give 10% to the charity of there choice-WOW what could happen.

I don’t want this to be a political piece, but I can’t help noticing that her solution is personal, not governmental.

And what could be more personal than spending vacations working with the poor who make our poor look like kings?

I would be lying if I did not say that I am pretty raw when I get home from a trip. The poverty and oppression is unbearable, but the spirit of the people is so encouraging. They love God, and care for each other even in their great poverty.

But what about problems here at home?

So often people will say, why Kenya- there are poor here? Amen, there are, and I do whatever I can here as well. But God put within me an absolute love for the people of Kenya and Africa. For some people it is Africa, some Asia, some want to help people in urban America, some take the cause of fighting cancer–whatever your seed is in your heart, do it!

Want to help? Here’s what Valerie told me:

One of the best ways to get involved is to sponsor a child through our Friends of Mercy program.

We have about 30 kids that need sponsors. It is $25 a month and 90% of that goes straight to the kids and their needs. By sponsoring a child, you are actually sponsoring all the children at Hosanna House.

That money goes to fund the daily running of the home, including; food, clothing, medical, school fees, paying staff etc.

You are also encouraged to write your child and pray for them. You can also help with financially supporting current projects.

We always have a project going to improve the living situation for the children. Currently we are raising funds for their Christmas Party. But I did just hear from the director today, and they are desperately in need of school fees.

We have about $500 to send, but they need about $3000 for school uniforms alone.

On the homefront, we are really wanted to upgrade our webpage. I have always been the one to do the webpage, to keep expenses to a minimum, but there is so much more we want to do with the page that I don’t know how to do.

I have a feeling that Mercy’s Hope will get some help from my generous readers. I hope so.

Visit Mercy’s Hope homepage.

Help Val and Mercy’s Hope with a donation. Every penny counts.

Like Village Bookstore on Facebook.