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Women for Orphans Worldwide Inspire Hope at Annual Luncheon
by Ronne Rock
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2016
The tables spilled out from the main ballroom into the sunroom of Brook Hollow Country Club in Dallas on Thursday, December 1st, as the 8th Annual Women for Orphans Worldwide (WOW) luncheon filled the venue with heartfelt laughter, tears, and the hope of Christ-centered care for orphans and vulnerable children.

(above: Cesar and Julia rehearse their keynote messages)

More than 360 attended the luncheon that featured a market filled with hand-crafted and curated gifts from Guatemala, an exquisite gallery by humanitarian photographer Libby Goff, and speeches by special guests Julia Oseida and Cesar Eguizabal of Niños con Futuros (Orphan Outreach’s partner NGO in Guatemala).

(above: WOW Luncheon Leadership Team)

“We are overwhelmed by the response to our invitation to become deeply invested in the lives of the vulnerable,” shares Tiffany Taylor Wines, Orphan Outreach Marketing Director and founder of WOW, an auxiliary that provides time, talent, and resources to not only Guatemala, but the other countries in which Orphan Outreach serves. “We had a record-setting crowd, and they responded to the call to care. We were provided the opportunity to receive a matching gift up to $20,000 – not only did we meet that match, we exceeded our goal. Words fall short in expressing our gratitude. Our theme this year was 'Inspire Hope' - and the generosity of everyone in attendance did just that.” The money raised will allow WOW to impact the lives of even more children in 2017.

katie smithson

But children in Guatemala aren’t the only ones impacted by the work being done through WOW members. Katie Smithson is a junior at Ursuline Academy in Dallas, Texas. She’s traveled two times to Guatemala with WOW, and was one of two students who shared their personal stories at the luncheon.

“The idea of mission trips has always been very appealing to me.  On mission trips, we are able to connect personally with the people we are helping, and see firsthand the impact our actions have.  On this past trip, we volunteered at the Guatemalan Association of Down Syndrome, which is a school in Guatemala City dedicated to providing support, education, and therapy for children with Down Syndrome.

“Today, I am here to share with you all some of my experiences at this wonderful school.

“When we first arrived at the school, the size of it astounded me.  There are about fifty children from toddlers to young adults enrolled in the school, and I could not wait to meet them. Going into the entire trip, I was worried about the language barrier.  I have taken Spanish for 12 years, and I am still barely conversational.  One of the reasons why I was so excited to spend time with the children was that children generally do not speak in very complex sentences, so, as long as they did not speak a mile a minute, I was confident I could understand them.  At the Down Syndrome school, however, many of the children are unable to communicate with speech. Although I supplemented verbal conversation with smiling, pointing, nodding, and shaking my head, I still was not sure if the kids understood what I was saying.  At one point, I was so overwhelmed that I went outside to play so I could do something that requires less verbal communication. It was then that I realized something important.  The kids do not care that I do not speak Spanish well.  All I had to do was spend time with them and be their friend.  I was too focused on myself, and, in my discomfort, I forgot what I was there to do.  I was there to spend time with the kids, and that is something we can do no matter the language barrier.  That realization shaped the rest of my time at the school and, really, the rest of my time on the trip.  I stopped worrying about communicating with words, and started communicating with actions.

“Now, at the end of our time at the school, the volunteers and students gathered in this one large room and had a massive dance party.  I am going to be completely honest:  I really do not like dancing, but that dance party was the most fun I have had in long time.  I spent most of the dance party dancing with a little girl.  We spun around in circles, did ballet moves, and generally just had tons of fun. After a little while, she ran off to dance with some other people, probably because I could not keep up.  During my break from dancing, I looked around the room and saw a sea of smiling and laughing faces.  There were so many people, who were all brought together by dancing.  Looking back on the mission trip, I realize that we sang and danced almost everywhere we went. Those are some of the things that we all have in common.  Seeing how many people were brought together by simply twirling around made me like dancing a little bit more.

“Before the giant dance party got started, I sat on the floor playing catch with a little boy named Javier, who I met in the 3rd grade class.  We played catch for probably 15 minutes until the big dance party started.  During the dance party, I lost track of him and could not find him again until we were getting ready to leave the school.  As we were about to walk out the doors, I saw him running towards me, and I bent down to say goodbye.  I was a little worried, as he got closer, because he was not slowing down.  When he reached me, he gave me in the biggest and warmest bear hug, in addition to tackling me to the floor.  Javier never said a word to me, and I hardly said a word to him, but we were able to connect through something as simple as a game of catch.

“All of these little experiences shaped my time at the Down Syndrome School, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go because it really did change the way I interact with people there as well as here.”

WOW market 1

There are Women for Orphans Worldwide chapters in a number of cities, and more chapters are forming. Learn more about the mission and work of WOW by visiting their website. And you can make a lasting impact on the life of a child by donating to Orphan Outreach. Your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar (up to $300,000) if you give before December 31st.

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