Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inaugural Fundraiser

Wow, where does the time go?  It seems like we just started looking for venues and trying to figure out the best place to do a fundraiser and setting the dates.  The dates seemed so far off.  Well, here we are 24 days away from our big night!!  February 4, 2011 is quickly approaching.

It is all coming together and is looking like a nice evening for those who want to get out for the evening and help a great cause.  At 7:00pm on February 4,  we will be cruising down the Sacramento River aboard the Empress Hornblower for two and a half hours while listening to the piano stylings of Tara O'Brien.  Tara has released two piano albums and is currently working on her third album.  In addition to composing, Tara is completing her internship for her Bacherlor of Music in Music Therapy at Music To Grow On.  While taking in the music and the cruise, attendees can enjoy appetizers, desserts, and wines donated by local wineries.  In addition, there is a silent auction with many offerings including a variety of gift baskets, wine tasting and tours with winemakers, photography sittings, a trio of Clesi Red Wines from Paso Robles, books, initial consultation for a home design, CDs, art, scrapbooking items, and much more.

Proceeds gained from the event and silent auction will cover the costs for two Board Certified Music Therapists to present information about Music Therapy, provide consultative music therapy, and donate instrument sets to birth families of children with Down Syndrome at a 3-day conference in Sofia, Bulgaria.  An additional stop is being planned to Stara Zagora, Bulgaria to visit with additional families with children with special needs and to visit an orphanage to donate instruments and provide interactive music time.

Tickets for the event can be purchased by sending a check payable to BRIGHT Children International to 8801 Folsom Boulevard, Suite 105, Sacramento, California 95826.  Tickets are $60 per person and include the cruise, concert, wine and desserts/appetizers, a souvenir photo by MRS Photography and parking validation.  Please submit checks by January 26 to allow for mailing of your tickets and allow for the correct head count.

Please plan on arriving at 6:30 to check in, have your souvenir photo taken, and board the boat for a prompt departure at 7:00pm.  The event attire is semi-formal.  If you are unable to attend the event but would like to help out with a silent auction item, a wine donation, or a monetary donation, please contact Bessie at bessie@brightchildreninternational.org

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Hello! My name is Amy, and I am the official secretary for BRIGHT Children International. Bessie and I thought it would be a good idea for me to introduce myself to the community that is supporting BRIGHT. I enjoy movies and long walks on the beach and... oops, wrong site...

I am a Board Certified Music Therapist and a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University. I met Bessie when I had the opportunity to intern at Music To Grow On from September 2009 through March 2010. However, I am currently working "down the road" in Indiana, 2200 miles away. What better way to start an international non-profit than to have the president and secretary running things transcontinental?

When Bessie called me at the beginning of the summer about flying somewhere with her to do something related to music, I was intrigued and thought, "Sure, that could be fun." Little did I know what was in store. God tends to have bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves. Fall rolled around and suddenly there was an organization that needed to be named, a logo that needed to be designed, brochures that needed to be created, and fund raisers that needed to materialize. I wanted to be involved. I felt called to be involved. Like the song says, "I'm gonna sing when the Spirit says sing." Or move when the Spirit says move... Or go when the Spirit says go.

It's amazing to see how God can prepare us and use us to make a difference for Him. Working with BRIGHT Children International is an incredible fit for me. I have a passion for music and for children (hence the music therapist), but I also have a heart for traveling, and international adoption stories bring me to tears. How blessed am I that all of this has been packaged into one non-profit!

A few years ago, before anyone thought about BRIGHT and before I met Bessie, someone asked me what I would do if I never had to worry about money. My response was, "I'd move to Central America and provide music therapy for the children with disabilities there, because they can't afford services." I just love how God works these things out. While I might not be moving anywhere, I am being given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children all around the world... that's really cool (or is it hecka cool?).

People, God is doing something big here! And my heart is all in it. I've seen therapeutic services make a difference in a child's life, and I have seen the difference a child makes to life. Not all of us are able to adopt a child, but we are all able to make a direct impact on the lives of these children and (hopefully) their forever families. Everyone has their own talents, their own gifts, their own resources... I'm using mine to support BRIGHT Children International in whatever way God calls.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Let's go back to the beginning...

I want to start by telling you how BRIGHT Children International came into existence.
This time last year, one of the families that my Music Therapy company serves decided to make a contribution to Reece's Rainbow's Angel Tree project for orphans with special needs around the world for a little girl name Sofia.  Little did they know what was in store.  Shortly after 2010 began, they started the process of adopting and bringing dear Sofia home to join their family.  I began following their journey and others that were on similar journeys to adopt children from Eastern Europe with special needs.

I became aware of the lack of acceptance for children with special needs in other parts of the world- How children are not given the chance at life because they are born with a disability- How the parents of these poor, darling children are told to send them to the orphanage- How many of these children spend their days in a crib with no contact, no exposure to the outside world, no chance for love and affection.  Many are drugged because it is easier for the care providers.  Many are malnourished and look a fraction of their age. Children who are five years old look two, and are not able to sit up independently or eat on their own.  These children and their conditions weighed on my heart.  These are the children in the "baby houses." Unfortunately, they have a much worse fate if they survive the baby house.  Depending on the region, children transfer to mental institutions between the ages of 3 and 5.  The conditions there are much worse than the baby houses.  They are in a place with all ages of individuals with disabilities, the conditions are deplorable, and many children who transfer don't survive their first year.  Visit www.convenantbuilders.blogspot.com and their posts "The Sad Reality, Part 1 and Part 2", for an eye-opening, personal account of the institutions.  Visit www.nogreaterjoymom.com and read the posts on adoption.

As I followed the various adoption stories and the conditions in even the baby houses, my heart was heavy for these children a world away.  I know through my work that children with special needs can develop and be successful in their community.  If given the right interventions and supports, they can learn and succeed.  These children teach the world more than we can ever teach them.  Ask families with a child with special needs here in the U.S. and so many will tell you that they have learned more from watching their children develop and grow.  Things like determination, the will to fight, the need for love and affection, unconditional love, and so much more.  The children in the orphanages are not given any opportunities to show their potential, to be loved, to learn or to succeed.

I was driving and thinking one day, something I do a lot, as I am in my car a lot.  I was asking God why these children are not given a chance.  While thinking and listening to the radio, a Christian radio station, they were talking about how each person can make a difference, whether big or small. I prayed to God, "How can I make a difference for these children sitting in the orphanages without a chance?"  God said, "You go and give them a chance.  Tell the care providers what potential these children have, show them how the children here are developing and succeeding, give them some interaction through music, get other therapists involved and give these children a light in their world of darkness."

When I shared this with the family that had just adopted Sofia, the mom said that I needed to contact Reece's Rainbow and share my idea.  This has resulted in our first trip with Reece's Rainbow and Connecting the Rainbow to Sofia, Bulgaria.  How fitting it is that we are going to Sofia, the same name as the child who opened the doors to the beginning of a new venture.  More to share about this trip in another post coming soon.

Shortly after that, I contacted another friend who had adopted a child from China, and got in contact with All God's Children International who is planning a trip to Beijing and are seeking professionals to provide interventions and education.

God is opening doors and providing for BRIGHT as we move forward with His calling.  We are excited to see what God has in store for BRIGHT Children and the lives that will be touched.  As we end 2010 and look toward 2011, we pray that the world will be more accepting of children with special needs. We pray they receive the much needed love required to succeed. We pray those children in orphanages find loving families this year.

So let the fundraising and planning begin!