Kids supporting AIDS orphans in Kenya

The SixSeeds Partner Family: The Kennedys
The Cause: Raising finanicial support for an AIDS orphanage in Kenya
The Organization: Bright Future Foundation

The Story:

Many of us parents choose to become SixSeeds Partner Families out of a desire to shape the moral development of our children. “How can I teach my kids,” we are asking, “to respond to the needs of the world?” It's a great question! But in our short existence as an organization, we’re starting to wonder whether it may be the kids who will just as often be doing the teaching.

The Kennedy kids donate part of their allowance.
The Kennedy kids donate part of their allowance.

Julie Kennedy was more committed to Kenya than most people. She had spent the summer after college living and working there. But it was unclear to her how she would communicate her connection to that country to her own kids.

The daughter of one of Julie’s family friends was traveling in Latin America and met someone who had volunteered with a dynamic AIDS orphanage in Kenya called By Grace. This girl was so excited about the orphanage that she came home and told her family all about it, even though she had never actually visited the country. The girl’s younger brothers, aged 10 and 12, caught her excitement. On their own, they conceived of a project to mobilize families in their church to send 100 care packages to By Grace orphanage. They were standing outside the church passing flyers when Julie and her husband, John, walked by.

Julie and John immediately resonated with their effort, and so did their own young son and daughter. Their kids began setting aside part of their weekly allowance in a separate box for the orphanage. It was an exciting event in the Kennedy household when they finally took it to the bank to tally it up.

Does your family give in a way that models generosity for your kids (like the Kennedys)?

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The family also sponsored a child from the orphanage. Julie and John deliberately picked a boy born the same year as another son of theirs who had died as a toddler. “We want him to be remembered by our whole family,” they said, “and the kids were so excited about the orphanage that it felt like the right way.” Together, the Kennedy family writes letters to the child they sponsor and gathers items for care packages they send to the children at By Grace.

As the Kennedy family got more involved with By Grace, they discovered other families who had undergone a similar experience in supporting the orphanage. Some of these other families have even traveled to volunteer at By Grace. One had gone there with his nine-year-old boy; another mother had volunteered there with college-age and preteen daughters.

Together these families decided to form a foundation to raise funds for both the orphanage and other development initiatives in Kenya, as well as to coordinate an international Volunteer Program at By Grace. The result was Bright Future Foundation, which is raising money and recruiting volunteers via their website. Julie now serves as an officer on the Board for Bright Future Foundation -- her kids say to one another when she's fundraising, “Mommy’s doing work for the kids in Kenya.” Since Julie and the others all serve as volunteers and the foundation separately raises money for overhead, all of the donations via the website goes to the programs in Kenya (see another example of an AIDS orphanage with no overhead).

This SixSeeds project is drawing more and more families into its orbit.  For years, the Kennedys have vacationed with the same group of college friends over the July 4th holiday.  Each year, the families involved have rented a large beach house on the Jersey shore to share together.  For this upcoming year, one couple has offered to pick up the total cost of the house and has invited the others to donate what they normally would spend on the vacation to Bright Future instead.  It's a great example of the power of family based service and giving.

How you can help:

Bright Future is expanding ways families can get involved. Your family can sponsor a child and even consider going on a volunteer trip (best for older kids). Please consider joining the Kennedys on this SixSeeds Family Partner Project!

You can raise awareness of how this epidemic is devastating Africa, starting with your own kids.  The plight of AIDS orphans may be the way a emotional connection can be made for kids to the continent and its plight. 

Idea for your own family:

If you’re wondering how to get your kids involved in service, the first thing to do may be to simply pay close attention to them. They may be giving hints or even more obvious indications of what already engages their hearts. Or, they may need you to give them a few options to start the process. Once you do tap into their energy, something wonderful happens where they do show the way for the rest of us.

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