I was recently going through some old files on my desk. I found a folder with newspaper articles and clippings related to my mother. My mother, Lynn, is a fantastic person. She is a true humanitarian . . . and, in my digging through old articles, I found documented proof. She was named a Thousand Points of Light by President George H. Bush. She received a Jefferson Leadership Award – a national award given to outstanding community volunteers. She was named the Florida State University Humanitarian of the Year in 1993 and . . . well, the list of accolades goes on and on. I am so proud of her. Perhaps more than pride, I am genuinely appreciative of her guiding light. She taught me that we could all make a difference. She taught me we can all be points of light. We just need to try.
Speaking of trying, a couple of exciting things happened over the past few weeks. Nothing profoundly earth-shattering per se – but vital to the work of HBI. One thing – our team of leaders in the Comunidad Girasoles Program (the name of all our work with formerly abandoned children – from the Casa Girasoles homes to the mentorship program to help young adults living outside of parental care) had a retreat in Lima. The directors of the Casa Girasoles in Ica and Urubamba, our team from Arequipa, and our administrative team came to Lima and met for two days. It was awesome. What made it even more remarkable was that our local leaders led the retreat. I only attended over Zoom. Why is this so important? It is a significant movement for HBI away from programs led by a North American team – and truly into programs directed and administered by the Peruvian staff. We’ve been building towards such a formative transition for over a decade.
I heard from one of our supporters this week. Mike Colbach is a prestigious Portland lawyer who has made an enormous difference by representing bicyclists injured in motor vehicle accidents. He is a passionate supporter of the Girasoles Sanos Cycling Team. Mike and a fantastic friend of HBI, Hugh Givens, committed this week to support HBI’s Casa Girasoles boys with a new bike or a donation every time he wins a case. We have received four new bikes already! Mike and Hugh are genuine points of light.
Also, this week, I learned that one of HBI’s first international interns, an amazingly gifted young person named Liz, matched with the family medicine residency program of her dreams. Not only was Liz instrumental in helping HBI restructure our school-based outreach program, but she has also been helping with the Center of Excellence Research Study throughout her busy time in medical school. What is so crucial about Liz matching for a residency program? Aside from the evident impact of such a move on her professional career, it is a massive endorsement of HBI. Liz gave so much of herself to helping HBI – and now, her efforts are paying back in some small ways. All the volunteer effort she put into our little NGO has given her the knowledge, skills, and courage to be a true leader and game changer.
Talking of game changers, Dr. Bob, HBI’s Medical Director and leader of the Newborn Resuscitation Program, is visiting for a few days. Bob has been a part of HBI from the very beginning. His leadership and mentorship have helped to shape HBI into the organization we are today. Over the next couple of days, we will meet with Karen, HBI’s Director of Operations (she’ll join over Zoom), to brainstorm and strategize about the next chapter of our organization and our impact. We’ll talk about programs – but we will also speak about vision and mission. We’ve known one another for many years. We’ve grown up professionally together. We have shared each other’s light and helped to shape one another. We are a family.
I feel that way about the work of HBI. We are a movement more than a not-for-profit. We are a big family. One thing we have always focused on is the people that are a part of the HBI family. We invest in people more than we develop programs or projects. That mindset has led us to become a lighthouse.
Our work is about sparking a light in others and uniting our actions to create a better world. Sure, HBIs efforts are very narrow in their focus and have not had a world-changing impact, but that isn’t what is important in many ways. It is essential to bring more light to the world and encourage more people to shine.