Power of ONE: Connecting sponsors with their kids

Shirley Bowden is a Care Team ambassador for Children International. That means she’s an integral connection between sponsors and their kids. Shirley calls sponsors about their accounts, makes welcome calls to new sponsors and more. She has worked at CI in our Kansas City, Missouri, headquarters for 10 years. Shirley loves connecting sponsors with kids and helping both sponsors and children meet their needs.

Although Shirley and her husband are originally from Oklahoma and Arkansas, the couple has made Kansas City their home. They enjoy going to Royals baseball games, eating ice cream at Murray’s in Westport and getting together with their friends. Shirley is also an avid reader. We caught up with Shirley to learn more about her and to find out what she loves about sponsorship.

You mentioned your family is in Oklahoma and your husband’s is in Arkansas — what brought you two to Kansas City?

We moved to Lebanon, Missouri, in 1974 and lived there until 1986. While in Lebanon, I worked at a Christian bookstore from 1974 until we moved to K.C. My husband, after managing the bookstore for seven years, became a sales rep and began calling on Christian bookstores outside our city. After having to do a lot of traveling, we felt that Kansas City had access to all the major highways, so while it might be a little further, the roads and access were so much better. We were Cardinals fans, but once we moved to K.C., we quickly became Royals fans. My husband loves baseball, so it has been a great fit. We have wonderful friends in K.C. through our church and from the Christian bookstore that I worked in. So, though we have no family here, we have “family” through those relationships.

You mentioned reading is a favorite pastime — what’s your favorite book?

My favorite book is the Bible, but I enjoy reading historical books, fiction and biographies. Some of my favorite authors are Max Lucado, Bodie Thoene and Karen Kingsbury.

Do you sponsor any kids?

Yes, my sponsored girl is Wendy from Quito, Ecuador. I visited her when I went on a staff trip — but I wasn’t her sponsor at the time. Then, I was only sponsoring a little boy in Lusaka, Zambia — Lennie, who was 3.

A sponsor whose account I was repping at the time had asked me if I would take a gift to her sponsored girl in Quito. But the gift never came, so I got together some things to give to the child anyway. I knew the girl had a sister who didn’t have a sponsor yet, so I brought things for her, also. Once I saw Wendy at the community center in Quito, I knew I had to be her sponsor! I am so thankful to have been able to meet her father and older sister. (Her mother had to work that day.)

I am also thankful that I had become the sponsor for Wendy, because in December of that year, sweet Lennie died. I have so much sympathy for a sponsor whose child dies. I know the heartache and the sadness.

What’s your favorite thing about sponsoring?

Seeing the changes in Wendy every year. I just got a brand-new picture of her. She’s now 12, and I started sponsoring her when she was 4. She writes the best letters — she’s always really encouraging and wants to know how we are doing. And she shares what she does.

What does the phrase “unleashing the power of (every)ONE” mean to you?

It’s really about making it more of a personal connection. Instead of looking at the big picture and making it almost cookie-cutter, it's more of a one-on-one relationship. 

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