Yesterday, people around the world observed Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates our love for one another. Chocolates, flowers, teddy bears and lace-trimmed heart cards help us convey our message of love on this special day. I hope your day was filled with love. Today, the day after Valentine’s Day, I wish to share with you a personal story about love and commitment. A story about a child in Moldova that changed my life forever.
Almost 17 years ago to the day in February 1998, I was traveling with CERI in Chisinau, Moldova visiting the orphanages and foster families in the area. On a bitter cold snowy day as I walked through town, a young girl approached me begging for money… not an uncommon occurrence in this poverty-stricken country, however I was taken aback by how young this child was. She was 13 years old, barely a teenager, alone on the streets to fend for herself. I learned through a translator that this young girl, Ana, lived in a destructive home with two alcoholic parents who neglected her and her two sisters. She was destitute, cold and hungry. A very sad reality, a reality I vowed to change.
Since this chance meeting on that cold winter day in Chisinau I took the steps to sponsor Ana with the promise to place her in a CERI foster home which would provide her with a warm and loving environment and the opportunity to go to school… then I watched as Ana thrived!
With a new life before her and case management provided by CERI, Ana excelled in her studies, taking courses that would give her the skills she needed to get a job and make a life for herself on her own.
I still stay in touch with Ana, and today I am proud to report she is an educated, self-sufficient woman, working and standing on her own two feet. She prevailed. Overcoming what could have been a miserable life of unconceivable horror. Thanks to CERI this child of God was saved from human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and a life without love and stability. Things no child should ever have to experience. For me it was the best investment I could make – to invest in a young child whose life would be forever changed.
For more years than 30 years I have had the honor and privilege to serve this outstanding organization whose mission is truly one with my heart. And on a daily basis I am moved by the spirit and dedication of those of you on the front lines, serving day after day to help children and families in your own backyard and oftentimes across the world struggling to overcome unconscionable circumstances. Your passion and commitment to God’s work indeed helps change lives.
The children of CERI need you – all of you. Your gift will bring joy to their hearts and smiles to their faces. They will know they are not alone. They will know someone cares about them, someone at BCFS with a generous heart. You!
Kevin C. Dinnin President & CEO