Below is an article from the Featured News of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association about one of our very own Sponsors!
Finance employee finds fulfillment in supporting disadvantaged youth
During a visit at a neighbor's home, photos of international children taped to the refrigerator door sparked the interest of James Williamson, Finance. Deeply intrigued, Williamson peppered his neighbor with questions about the children. It turned out that the children were abandoned, disadvantaged, or orphaned, and Williamson’s neighbor sponsored them through an organization called Friends of the Orphans. Williamson was very moved. “I decided that [sponsoring] was something I wanted to do for the children in need,” he said.
That was 12 years ago. Williamson was soon paired with nine-year-old Juan Manuel, his first “godson.” Juan Manuel, like Williamson, is deaf. Through the organization’s financial support, Juan Manuel was able to attend a private high school that specializes in educating special-needs students.
“I had my proudest moment in 12 years by attending Juan Manuel’s graduation in Mexico last July,” Williamson said. “It was a very poignant experience.”
Williamson currently sponsors four godsons in Mexico—Juan Manuel, Brandon, Luis and Miguel—as well as two godsons in Nicaragua, Noel and Yader. He recently began sponsoring another godson in Guatemala named Jimmy. Williamson knows conversational Spanish and is able to communicate with the children by email. Additionally, he frequently video-chats with them through a bilingual sign language interpreter. He tries to meet all his godsons in person.
Friends of the Orphans is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children through the support of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH), an international network of orphanages in nine Latin America countries and the Caribbean. (Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos translates to“Our Little Brothers and Sisters.”) Friends of the Orphans contributes to NPH through volunteering, sponsorship and fundraising efforts. Currently, more than 3,500 children live at the NPH homes. In addition, NPH’s community outreach programs assist more than 90,000 children and adults annually. NPH also has special external programs that assist over 2,000 students. Since its founding in 1954, NPH has helped over 17,000 children.
A sponsor, recognized as a “godparent,” provides the child with financial support via monthly donations to Friends of the Orphans, as well as emotional support by establishing a personal relationship with the child. NPH provides the child a home, education, health care, food, clean water and clothing. NPH’s goal is to prepare its children to become productive and caring members of society. In return, the child is expected to give back one year of service to NPH after completing his or her high school education. For children who want to attend university, they must provide at least two years of service. NPH pays for their entire university education.
At the end of June, Williamson plans to visit the NPH Mexico home to meet Luis and Brandon, whom he has recently begun sponsoring. Both boys are 14. “I look very much forward to it,” Williamson says.
Williamson reflects on his 12 years of sponsorship with Friends of the Orphans and his dedication to his godsons. “The organization means a lot to me in that it has transformed thousands of children’s lives, and in return, they have transformed my life, too!”
James Williamson traveled to Mexico last summer to attend Juan Manual's high school graduation. Williamson calls it his "proudest moment in 12 years" of sponsorship.