We began as a one-room medical clinic. Today, we’re a worldwide organization helping 300,000+ kids! How did that happen? Here is a look at our transformation over the last 80 years.
In 1936, Holy Land Christian Mission was founded to provide food baskets to women, children and families in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. A small medical clinic was also opened to treat minor infections and illnesses.
During this decade, we were seeing some really positive results from our work. So we expanded to include an orphanage and clothing donations for kids in the program.
After a polio outbreak in the West Bank, we expanded our medical services to include orthopedic and therapeutic surgeries.
We moved into our U.S. office in Kansas City, where we remain today. We’re right next to a large park, so employees keep binoculars handy for random wildlife sightings!
Our medical clinic became a full-service hospital providing free services for kids disabled by polio, club foot and other bone disorders. The hospital remained open until 1996.
Joseph Gripkey was appointed as our executive director. Under his leadership, we experienced incredible growth and expansion, along with a gradual shift to non-religious-based programs.
It was an exciting time as we launched our child sponsorship program with our first agency in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. By the end of the first year, 2,300 children were receiving help. By the end of the decade, we were helping 134,000 kids annually!
It was a big year as we began working in Kolkata, India; Manila, Philippines; Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia; Santa Cruz de Mao, Dominican Republic; and San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
We began agency operations in Tabaco, Philippines.
We opened an agency in Legazpi, Philippines.
We began working in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Another big year as we began working in Barranquilla, Colombia; Quezon City, Philppines; Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador.
A new name for a new focus: Our name no longer reflected the work we were doing. We officially became Children International to emphasize our primary focus — helping children in poverty through child sponsorship.
We launched an agency in rural Guatemala.
We built our first community center in Asentamientos Humanos, Honduras. Our goal was to create a multi-purpose space that could help larger numbers of children and provide a wider variety of services.
We teamed up with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to help kids in the United States. Our partnership is still going strong today with more than 3,000 kids enrolled annually!
Joseph Gripkey retired and was succeeded by Jim Cook. Under Jim’s leadership, we grew to support over 300,000 kids! Jim was the guiding force in creating the youth and job training programs that are now at the core of our strategy to help kids break the cycle of poverty.
As the number of children in the program grew, so did the number of teens. We realized that 60,000 youth between ages 14 and 19 were dealing with emotional and physical needs that weren’t being addressed.
So we launched our first youth program, which included training on life skills, reproductive health, vocational opportunities and career counseling.
A longtime dream became reality as we expanded our services to Africa. We began operations in Lusaka, Zambia, where four community centers now help more than 17,000 children.
We began operations in Jalisco, Mexico. Currently, five community centers are changing the lives of around 20,000 children there annually.
After the success of our first community centers, we envisioned a new generation of facilities that would combine services for children, youth and community members. Our successful building campaign began with the Betty Lou Dahl Center in Quezon City, Philippines. We now have more than 70 newer centers thanks to our wonderful supporters!
We hit an exciting milestone as we celebrated the enrollment of our 1,000,000th sponsored child, Yorledis of Cartagena, Colombia. (FYI: Yorledis is still in the program and has the same sponsor!)
Jim Cook retired and was succeeded by Susana Eshleman. Susana became a member of Children International’s board of directors in 2004 and shares our passion of bringing real and lasting change to children living in poverty.
All change begins with ONE person. When we all join together, that’s when BIG change happens. We call it the power of (every)ONE. This year, we debuted a new look and program strategy. We also became laser-focused on one goal: Every child graduates from our program healthy, educated, employed and empowered to break the cycle of poverty.
Are you sure?