The Alliance for Children Foundation is honored to have been chosen as the 2016 partner charity for Operation Days Work – USA (ODW-USA).
Founded in Sweden, ODW has been teaching middle and high school students across the globe the values of volunteerism and philanthropy since the 1960s. Now administered by UNICEF, ODW-Sweden is the model for its US-based counterpart. On behalf of the AFCF, Filis and Bonnie submitted an application to one of the ODW-USA co-founding schools, Broad Meadows Middle School in Quincy, MA, to benefit vulnerable youth in Haiti and hoped for the best.
Each year, students research and nominate youth-focused charities working in developing countries to submit a competitive application for a $10,000 grant. Students at member schools run fundraisers throughout the year to earn the grant money through"A Day's Work" in their communities and schools. In mid October, students debate the strengths and weaknesses of each grant submitted and in November after additional lobbying and research, all ODW-USA members cast a secret ballot vote. The application receiving the most school votes is the annual partner and the winner is announced in December.
As their website explains, "ODW-USA goes beyond typical student council elections." Members learn about democracy in action as they cast their votes based on research and discussion. Filis and Bonnie experienced this in person as they were enthusiastically greeted by an audience of 30 middle and high school students along with Ron Adams, the National Director of ODW-USA at Broad Meadows Middle School at the first presentation about the AFCF's projects in Haiti. All of the students listened intently to the presentation and then asked a several very smart and informed questions.
In the beginning of December Bonnie received a call to her mobile phone from the entire group of kids who had dialed her on speaker phone from their classroom excitedly announcing that AFCF had been chosen as their partner, followed by lots of cheering!
The grant funds from ODW-USA will provide orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti under the AFCF's care with food, access to school, and literacy support. Additionally, the AFCF has added creative programming that enriches the lives of these youth through music, dance and creative writing. The aim is to increase children’s confidence and self-esteem and to encourage them to reach their potential.
Throughout the school year, Bonnie traveled to each of the member schools to talk to the kids and to answer any questions they had. It was inspiring to see so many young people putting such a strong and sincere effort to make the world a better place. The kids were truly invested in the project, raising money, and making a difference. Also, throughout the fundraising period, students were able to Skype with their peers in Haiti, and even though there was a language barrier, each group of kids left the visit feeling like they made some new friends.
The presentation of the grant was full of feelings of joy, accomplishment, excitement, and emotions. Ron Adams said to the kids “Did we reach our goal of $10,000 this year? What do you think?” The kids tapped their fingers on the desk to simulate a drum roll, the flap of paper was lifted and Ron said “NO, we raised $15,000!” There were gasps followed by cheering and congratulating each other!
Bonnie thanked the kids and said to them “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t change the world or make a difference because you are a kid – look what you all did! Each one of you is helping a child gain knowledge that will enrich their future and possibly save their life. Education is knowledge, knowledge is power, power can change a community, empowering others can change the world – That is what you have done and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”