My favorite part of any country visit is the conversations I have with the incredible staff at each of our programs. When I visited the programs supported by Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Guatemala last month, I was once again inspired by their dedication to our young people.
During a meal with the sisters at Hogar del Niño, one of our partner programs, a small girl named Lincy sat nestled among the sisters and quietly ate her lunch. She gave me a beautiful smile when I performed my silly magic tricks, but otherwise seemed content to sit and observe the goings-on. When I asked why she was not eating with the other children, the sisters explained that they had noticed how small she was for her age. Concerned that yet another one of their students was suffering from malnutrition at home, they had Lincy sit with them during lunch every day so they could offer her extra servings. I added some encouragement of my own by giving her my bracelet. It dwarfed her small wrist, and I asked her to eat lots of healthy food so the bracelet would fit the next time I visited.
Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition among children in Central and South America. Without the attentive care of teachers and staff members, children like Lincy often remain malnourished and suffer the effects through adulthood. I am so grateful to know our young citizens are being looked after with such commitment – and thankful to supporters like you for providing our program staff with the resources they need. Muchas gracias!
A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend of A Chance In Life. He was elaborating on an interesting theory about the impact of development work and argued that only macro-level projects can have a truly meaningful social impact. It was because of this, he added, that he did not want to sponsor a child with us and would prefer to wait for a larger project to support. In his opinion, that’s how you break the cycle of poverty.
Or maybe not ...
At A Chance In Life, we pursue both approaches, offering services to individuals while advocating for broader societal change. But I am a strong advocate of our sponsorship program. It allows donors like you to provide a chance in life to an unknown child who would never get an education without your help. In some cases, they may not even get the food or medical care they need to survive. Instead, with your support, any one of these children can grow up to be an agent of change and impact the lives of their entire community.
"Our 100 high school girls need milk for their breakfast," announced Fr. Habte, the director of our programs in Ethiopia, during our visit a week ago. “As you can see, we do not have any stores around us.”
Sung Jost Ioffredo, A Chance In Life Vice President and longtime donor (read more about her here) asked, "How can you solve this problem?"
Without hesitation, Fr. Habte said, "Well, each of our 100 girls will need at least a glass of milk. One gallon of milk equals 16 eight-ounce glasses. To provide milk to every girl, we need at least seven gallons a day. Now … a cow here produces on average three to five gallons of milk a day, which means that we need two cows to solve our problem." concluded Fr. Habte, doing quick calculations on his fingers.
On April 30, at our 74th New York Annual Gala, I told the audience of more than 460 people this story…
“A friend of mine is the President of a nonprofit organization here in New York. About a month ago, he had an appointment to ask for a large donation from a prospect he didn’t know, who was the President of a bank.
Have you ever heard the saying “all roads lead to Rome”? This phrase refers to the road system of the Roman Empire in which Rome was positioned in the center with every road departing from it. In all, the Romans built 50,000 miles of hard-surfaced highway that spanned three continents.
The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Appia (Appian Way), was begun in 312 BCE and originally ran 162 miles southeast from Rome to Tarentum (now Taranto). It was later extended to the Adriatic coast at Brundisium (now Brindisi). You can still walk parts of the Via Appia today, making it over 2,300 years old!
Well, today I would like to tell you about one of the more recent roads built in Rome. It’s called “The Plumeri Way” and it leads to the heart our major program, La Città dei Ragazzi (Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Italy). It’s dedicated to one of our most generous and passionate donors, Mr. Joe Plumeri, and to his family.
This title may sound like the beginning of a joke, but it's actually the story of my ten day journey to Ethiopia this past January. Two months ago, I accompanied a group of journalists and media professionals hailing from Italy, the US and France to visit A Chance In Life's programs in Ethiopia. How did such an international group come together? Well, the story begins with a phone call ...
"I would like to join you on a trip to Ethiopia," Federico Rampini announced to me over the phone. As I love to show our Towns to people, and I knew Mr. Rampini to be one of Italy's most prolific and respected journalists, I was thrilled. Over the course of the conversation, I was informed that there were, in fact, nine other people who wished to accompany us. Despite the 3,000 miles to cover in Ethiopia through flights and bumpy drives on off-road paths, A Chance In Life accepted the challenge. On January 11, our group of ten visitors from Italy, France, and the US reached Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
Click below to read the rest of the story, told in two parts, and see photos and videos of our trip!
I have some very exciting news to tell you! Today, I received a letter from Mr. Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. (Charity Navigator is the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities.) I would like to share it with you.
Dear Gabriele Delmonaco:
On behalf of Charity Navigator, I wish to congratulate A Chance In Life on attaining the coveted 4-star rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.
The nonprofit sector is advancing and expanding. As our organizations evolve, so do the desires and interests of our supporters. Astute donors are yearning for greater accountability, transparency, and for concrete results from us. With more than 1.5 million American charities, Charity Navigator aims to accentuate the work of efficient and transparent organizations. The intent of our work is to provide donors with essential information to give them greater confidence in both the charitable decisions that they make and the nonprofit sector.
Based on the most recent information available, we have issued a new rating for your organization. We are proud to announce that your organization has earned a 4-star rating. This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that A Chance In Life exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work.
Buon Anno to you all! The first month of the new year is a time for reflection, resolutions, and meeting new people. How lucky for you all that my email today offers all three ...
Let's look back at what your generous support accomplished in the past year for at-risk children around the world. Over 2,500 children were given the chance to attend school, grow through our program of self-government, and live in a caring community at our Towns in Italy, Ethiopia, India, and Latin America. You also helped us:
Arthur Hernandez, our new Director of Development and Communications, can't wait to get to know our incredible donors and use his experience to grow A Chance In Life's fundraising capacity.
Anna Medvedeva serves as Programs Manager in Italy and supports the young people at Boys' & Girls' Towns in Rome and Boys' & Girls' Republic in Civitavecchia.
Elser Llanos, Programs Manager in Latin America, coordinates our Towns in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Guatemala.
Caroline Ziccardi, our Development Assistant, is excited to use her previous experience in Latin America to strengthen our newest Towns.
To learn more about Anna and Elser, be on the lookout for our upcoming Winter Newsletter. To learn more about Arthur and Caroline, send us an email or stop by our NYC office for an espresso and a chat!
Thank you for all you allowed us to accomplish in 2018. Best of luck on your own resolutions and I look forward to seeing you in 2019.
In the spirit of this holiday season, I would like to share with all of you the letter I wrote to Santa Claus this year.
Dear Santa …
What’s wrong with you?
I am not sure you remember me, but I am that child who never got the gifts he asked for. Every year, I felt as if my letters got rejected. Meanwhile, you fulfilled my sister’s wish who requested a doll for her and a doll for me. She was obviously the smart one … since I would not play with it, she ended up getting that one too.
Anyway, the past is the past and I have forgiven you. Today I am writing for another reason. It’s not even for me. I hope this time you will listen.
Dear Santa …
Why do you keep delivering expensive toys to children who can have anything they wish? There is nothing wrong with that, but for one year, why don’t you take the time to visit children who live on the streets and don’t even know how to write you a letter because they can’t go to school?
Why don’t you come with me to visit our programs in Ethiopia? You will meet girls like Haymanot who must walk for two hours barefoot to go to school. She doesn’t have your cozy sleigh and magic reindeer. By the time she gets back home, if she is not abducted or attacked by hyenas along the way, it’s too dark to do her homework because there is no electricity in her house. If not for A Chance In Life, she would drop out of school to stay home and help her parents.
Why don’t you come with me on a twenty-hour trip to India, followed by an eleven-hour car ride to the most remote tribal areas of Kerala where boys and girls live in the forest with no running water, sanitation services, schools or clinics. If it weren’t for A Chance In Life, they would end up in the fields, working hard all day with their family with no chance of getting an education.
Dear Santa ...
Come with me to Peru in Nuevo Horizonte, where hundreds of desperate families are forced to leave their arid lands to find better luck in the outskirts of major cities... You will see houses made of scrap materials built on rocky hills. The children there don’t have schools, medical care or enough food. They play on dusty roads with abandoned tires. For one year, stop only producing toys for kids who have everything and join A Chance In Life to give these children a hot meal, clean water and most importantly a chance in life.
Dear Santa …
Instead of flying back and forth from the North Pole to deliver yet another video game, use your sleigh to save children who flee war, violence, and abuse in Africa to look for a better future in Italy by crossing the sea on rundown boats. A Chance In Life will be there to welcome those who survive the journey across the Mediterranean Sea and will restore their hope at Boys’ and Girls’ Towns in Rome and Civitavecchia.
Dear Santa …
You should know that there are almost 2 billion children under the age of 15 on Mother Earth. More than half of them live in poverty. Twenty-two thousand children die every day due to poverty; 15 children every minute. Since I started writing my letter, 60 have already died.
Will you join me in changing that?
A Chance In Life may not have a fancy sleigh or hundreds of magical elves, but we have real people willing to make a real difference. Thanks to our donors, we have been able to help over 2,500 children around the world attend school, fulfill their basic needs, and grow as young leaders this past year.
This giving season, we ask you to join us in providing a chance in life to these children in 2019. Click on the button below to see how you can make a difference, this season and every season!
Thank you for always being there for our children.
P.S. I forgive Santa for that doll … but does anyone know his return policy?
How would you like to travel back in time? How about 7 years? All you need to do is travel to Ethiopia. (And please, visit our programs there!) Ethiopia still uses the Julian calendar, which is about 7 years behind the Gregorian calendar most of the world uses. If you travel to Ethiopia today, the current year is 2011. But wait … there is more …
The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months: 12 months of 30 days and a short month of 5 or 6 days. Ethiopian New Year is celebrated on September 11th, except in leap years, when it is on September 12th.
To make things more complicated, days in Ethiopia are split into two 12-hour halves: the day begins at 6 am (“time zero”) and ends at 6 am, whereas the night begins at 6 pm and ends at 6 am. For example, if my watch were to say it was 8 am, it would be 2 o’clock in the morning according to Ethiopian time. (Why? Because 8 am is two hours after 6 am, the “time zero” of the their first 12-hour period).
Aren’t you happy you live here? You should be even happier because if you were enrolled in our monthly giving program (as I hope you will do after reading this message), you would only have to make 12 payments a year, instead of 13! But who is counting when your gift will make such a difference. Here are some reasons to enroll in our monthly giving program:
P.S. A little riddle for you … If you are in Ethiopia and your watch says it’s 2 am, what would time would the locals say it was? The first three donors who will enroll in our monthly giving program and write me the correct answer will receive our A Chance In Life hat. (Entries from Ethiopia excluded … they would have a 7-year advantage …)