Friday, March 27, 2009

Ready to Pound the Monument Avenue Pavement

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

We’re ready! Christian Children’s Fund’s 10k team gathered together today for a pasta lunch in preparation for Saturday’s Monument Avenue 10k. We’re all looking forward to representing CCF tomorrow! About two dozen staff members, plus more than a dozen family members, will be taking part in the 10k.

As I have mentioned before, when you see us out there in our CCF T-shirts, don’t think of us as individuals – think of what CCF does for the rest of the world, helping more than 15 million children and family members in 31 countries. We’re all helping deprived, excluded and vulnerable children have the capacity to become young adults, parents and leaders of the next generation who bring lasting and positive change in their communities.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Take the CCF World Water Day Challenge

In the world today, approximately 1.3 billion people (18 percent of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. Others don’t have enough water to bathe or even wash their hands.

And every day, almost 10,000 children under the age of five die as a result of water-related illnesses.

Every day, an American family uses an average of 80 gallons of water. To put that number in perspective, one load of laundry uses almost 35 gallons of water.

In Africa, the average family only uses 5 gallons of water a day. That one load of laundry cycled by the American family is more than that same family in Africa consumes in one week.

CCF recognizes that clean, safe water is essential to the health and development of children, and to every family’s ability to be self-sustaining.

A few of our programs include:

  • Water wells in Zambia, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Sri Lanka and Angola
  • Latrines for schools in Sri Lanka
  • Crop irrigation systems in India
  • Water reservoirs in Brazil and Ecuador
  • Training and education on water sanitation and hygiene in Honduras, India, Ecuador and the Philippines

But on March 22, in honor of World Water Day 2009, we at CCF want to see how well you can complete our World Water Day Challenge. That means for one day, Sunday, March 22, we’re asking you to reduce your water usage from the average 80 gallons to only 5 gallons for the entire day.

To help you along, here are a few statistics on water usage for every day tasks that most of us may take for granted.*

  • Flush a Toilet: Between 1.5 and 3 gallons for each flush.
  • Take a Shower: 3.5 gallons every minute.
  • Use a Dishwasher: Between 6 and 11 gallons.
  • Brush Your Teeth: 2 gallons.
  • Cook a Quarter Pound of Hamburger: 1 gallon.

    *All statistics are according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Try it out and tell us how you did. What was the hardest challenge you faced in keeping your water usage to 5 gallons of water for one day? What have you learned in trying the CCF World Water Day Challenge?

Leave your comments below!

We’re all communicators

As a follow-up to our previous post on our Global Communications Workshop, we had one more participant offer her thoughts on the workshop … and this crazy Richmond weather.

Tenagne Mekonnen, Africa Region
Being from perfect climate in Ethiopia I am not used to extreme temperatures. So I was like a fish out of water when it snowed on my second day I was in the USA. I had the privilege of playing in the snow for the first time in my life!

As always, I enjoy working in CCF believing that I make a contribution to the children we serve in the organization. Communication helps us to belong to a society and benefit by such relationships. When our works and efforts are communicated very well with the quality, focus and detail, the happenings taking place in the organization will be cherished and create ownership.

Our communication focuses on healthy and secure infants, educated and confident children and skilled and involved youth. This will for sure indicate our direction and will enhance confidence of our stakeholders whose support has been consistent and life changing. The workshop strengthened my belief in how much communication will mean internally and externally.

The workshop through the week helped to learn, share and suggest in how to streamline the common mission and vision at all levels of the organization. We are all communicators! What shall we do then? Let us share what we have so that voices of our children and youth will be expressed.

Focusing on increasing the quality of programs, we then will educate and inform how we can bring change on deprived, excluded and vulnerable children. The workshop highlighted how as an organization we can share our self to the right persons at the right time and through the right channels to stakeholders, staff, communities and children.

Not only did the USA receive me in snow, but it also is sending me back home with rain and chilly weather!

For more information on where CCF works, click here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The World Comes to Richmond

While most Americans were adjusting to an hour’s time difference this week due to daylight saving time, six of Christian Children’s Fund’s employees were hard at work adjusting to time differences of up to 12 hours.

This week our International Communications department held a Global Communications Workshop to help align our plans and strategies. Our discussions included social networking (and this particular blog). The group also had a chance to visit the VCU Brandcenter and the newsroom of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

As part of the work this week we asked for volunteers to blog about their week in the United States. Here’s what two of them had to say.

Adriana Villarreal Bernal, Mexico
"All men by nature desire to know." – Aristotle

The eternal need of knowing, or learning, of being informed is a constant of mankind. Information is power. Power that can help others … especially for children by enabling them to take control of their lives and to command their future.

We are taught that the process of communicating has components a receptor, a transmitter and a message, but a visit to a newsroom of a newspaper opened my eyes and I perfectly understood the stressful part of communicating – the urgency of the best story, with the best picture to transmit the message, and let it flow and satisfy the need of both the receptor and the transmitter.

But when you are communicating with the final purpose of helping deprived, excluded and vulnerable children to have the capacity to improve their lives and the opportunity to become young adults who bring lasting and positive change to their communities, then communication acquires new dimensions.

We have the responsibility of finding the best communications tools and contents in order to let others know how they may help.

Some messages may be that important and others may just have importance for the transmitter; for example today I want to share with you that this morning I saw snow for the first time in my life.

Tobias Chomba, Zambia
Visiting CCF's International Headquarters in Richmond is one thing that I have looked forward to. I always thought the visit would give me an opportunity to meet several International Office staff that I have interacted with in my work at Christian Children’s Fund Zambia. And, of course, enable me step foot in the USA for the first time. My dreams came true when I was invited to be part of the Global Communications Workshop that included other international participants from Asia, the Americas and African regions of CCF.

Working for CCF Zambia as a sponsor relations and communications manager has enabled me to interact and engage with various CCF stakeholders such as children, communities, sponsors, donors and staff at different levels across CCF worldwide. My eight years of work with CCF has been focused on supporting children and sponsors to achieve mutually rewarding relationships and that the achievements are demonstrated on how CCF sponsorship supports vital program activities to make a difference in the lives of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children.

The Global Communications Workshop started with introductions among participants. The group of participants was reasonably small, but representative of CCF’s worldwide communication experts. The objectives of the workshop were to have a communication strategic reflection on our role and how we can build and strengthen quality information dissemination of our work to sponsors and donors. A thorough review of our global strategy was done and various discussions were held on the role communication will play in achieving the three core outcomes. The core outcomes are healthy and secure infants; educated and confident children; and skilled and involved youth.

The coming together tightened the loose nuts between the international, regional and national offices. Being part of this process is a big milestone in my CCF work history. It really has afforded me a chance to put forth the National Office’s perspective that will engender our active participation in our context while contributing to the global goal. I can see space for creativity and innovation development. This is a great achievement in my lifetime work in communication in CCF.

We restated our commitment to being authentic, empowering children through innovative leadership to become leaders of enduring change. From the field perspective, we learned a lot on targeted communications, social media and opportunities for innovations. We, at the same time, gave feedback to strengthen our work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Little Bit Can Go a Long Way

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

$10 … should I buy 10 songs from iTunes or a duck that can provide food to a family in Timor-Leste? As more and more Americans receive their tax refunds in the next several weeks, this is a legitimate question we should ask ourselves.

In writing a recent news release about tax refunds and breaking it down by the numbers, I realized that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in the life of a child where Christian Children’s Fund works. In these tight economic times, more and more people are watching every penny spent, but we should not forget about the children less fortunate than us around the world.

The average American will receive more than a $2,000 tax refund this year. While this can certainly help pay off some bills or even catch up on some debt, did you know that it costs just $288 to sponsor one child for one year through CCF? Besides sponsorship, there also are several other ways to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children in the 31 countries CCF works. $6 can buy cough medicine for a child in Honduras; $10 can buy a duck for a family in Timor-Leste; $14 can provide an art kit for a child in Angola; and $36 can purchase a goat for a family in Zambia. Hundreds of gifts are available up to $5,300 apiece.

The statement of a little bit goes a long way certainly applies when talking about children living in poverty.

For more on this subject, click here to check out our latest news release. For more information on CCF, visit (We’re on Twitter too at

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Monument Avenue 10k is a team effort

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

As we’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog, about 20 percent of Christian Children’s Fund’s Richmond-based staff is participating in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k on March 28. As the organizer of this team, it has been great to see the enthusiasm around this race. As a runner of many races, I often look at running as an individual thing, but in the past couple of months I have once again been reminded that running and walking in an event such as this is very much a team sport.

That being said, I’d like to share a couple of personal stories from CCF staff who are participating in the 10k.

Michelle Bray, accountant
Though I had heard of and have had co-workers who participated in the 10k in previous years, I was never motivated to participate myself. However, in 2009 I pledged that I would challenge myself to do new and greater things. To try things I’ve never done before and accomplish goals that I had previously thought was unattainable. The 10k is the perfect opportunity for me, as I have never participated in anything in this capacity.

Personally, weight has been a constant struggle in my life, once weighing 252 pounds. I lost more than 100 pounds some years ago, but I must admit it is still hard to maintain; obesity is a disease in its own. So not only do I have weight to contend with, but cancer runs in my family. The training has been keeping me on task and making me feel my best.

Lastly, while making it to the finish line will be a new accomplishment for me, making it to the finish line with my CCF family will be an even greater joy, as we are all aspiring to make a difference, as well as have a healthier future for years to come.

Stephanie Brummell, web content specialist
I wouldn’t call myself a gym rat. I wouldn’t call myself a couch potato. Sure, I enjoy spinning, body pump and yoga. But I also indulge in lazy Sundays, greasy Chinese food and ice cream.

Back in December, I began talking with a co-worker at CCF about how to overcome my frustration with how much time I was putting in at the gym and how I was not seeing a decrease in numbers on the scale.

Perhaps it had something to do with the Chinese food?

That’s when he brought up the Monument Avenue 10k. He talked about the camaraderie; the adrenaline rush of finishing your first race; the pride you feel after running a distance you never thought possible. I decided then and there to hop back on the weight loss saddle, but this time I would make my journey about something other than the scale. On Dec. 26, the first day registration opened, I signed up to run as a novice in the 10k.

I told friends and family about my training. I watched with excitement as others at CCF signed up to run or walk the race. In February, I started taking the stairs up to my cubical on the fifth floor of CCF’s building.

I’ll never forget the first Saturday morning I ran a mile with my Richmond SportsBackers YMCA 10k training team. That one mile was the hardest I’ve ever done in my life. But now, and to my surprise, I’m running 4 miles multiple times a week. I’ve lost 8 pounds in the process and with about a month left to train, I’m feeling confident and motivated; excited, but anxious – especially for this weather to perk up!

Training for the Monument Avenue 10k has changed my life. I make time for workouts no matter what and I’m more focused than ever before. And being part of CCF’s 10k team has helped me get to know my co-workers a little bit better too. And the best part is, thanks to my training schedule, I’ve been able to hold tight to my beloved lazy Sundays.

And lastly, a little about myself and this 10k.

I began running five years ago to lose weight for my wedding. Well, 40 pounds later and several races later, I’m still running and couldn’t be happier. I’ve had some ups and downs with race times, weight and injuries, but I have no plans to stop. Last year in my first Monument Avenue 10k, I raised hundreds of dollars for the VCU Massey Cancer center; this year I’m planning the same.

Helping bring together a CCF team has been rewarding in many ways. From fighting cancer to being a part of the Richmond community to having speed goals, everyone has their reasons for taking part in this event. It’s great to get know my co-workers on another level and I’m looking forward to representing CCF that day. While some people are walking and some are running, be on the lookout for us in our CCF T-shirts that day. When you see one of those T-shirts, don’t think of us as individuals – think of us as a team and what CCF does for the rest of the world, helping more than 15 million children and family members in 31 countries.

For more information on the 10k, visit; for more information on CCF visit