Let’s be known for the lives we live—not the things we can buy.
I have experienced countless benefits since deciding to minimize my possessions and remove the pursuit for more. Among the greatest, I have learned my life is too valuable to waste chasing material possessions. But beyond that, I have learned, when the pursuit of material possessions is removed, our lives are opened up to accomplish far greater things than we could ever imagine.
And so, with that as the backdrop, I am able to write a blog post today that years ago, I never would have dreamt possible. I am hoping, that together, we can literally change the world. And I don’t use that phrase as an idealistic cliché, I legitimately believe it is possible.
In 1978, as a newborn, my wife was left by her birth mother at a hospital in South Dakota. A call was immediately placed to a local attorney looking for some help. He was new to town, and with very little background in his new community, he didn’t have many answers. But he did know somebody, hours away, who might be able to help.
Later that night, on a warm Midwestern summer evening, he dialed the number of a young couple in Omaha, NE. At the time, they were unable to have kids but wanted a larger family. And the judge knew of their desire. The unsuspecting parents answered the phone that evening having no idea who would be on the other end or how their lives would change. But within hours, their bags were packed, and they were on their way to South Dakota to pick up their daughter.
Because of her past, Kim and I have always held a special place in our hearts for the orphan. It doesn’t always work out for others as it did for my wife—not every orphaned child is able to be raised in a loving family. And we think something needs to be done.
So we did something. Late last year, we founded a nonprofit organization, The Hope Effect, to change how the world cares for orphans.
The Problem Nobody Talks About
Over 26 million children worldwide live without parents. Less than 1% will ever be adopted, so how we care for the remaining 99% matters. And to be honest, on a global-scale, we don’t do a very good job.
Many people believe the orphan crisis is being adequately addressed… but the facts tell a different story.
For decades, research has pointed out the damaging effects on children of traditional, institutional orphan care—those orphanages around the world that most of us think about, usually involving high child to caregiver ratios.
Unfortunately, when children do not receive adequate personal interaction within a loving environment, development is stunted and learning abilities are delayed or lost. Many orphanages are simply unaware of the damaging physical and psychological impact institutional care has on children. Some studies reveal 60-70% of children who age out of these institutions end up homeless, incarcerated, or in prostitution.
There is a worldwide problem in how we care for orphans—but almost nobody is talking about it.
Our nonprofit, The Hope Effect, is addressing this problem by changing orphan care around the world. Our model for orphan care provides solutions that better mimic the family.
Our campus setting will include an administrative building and smaller housing units. Each house will provide a home for 8 children and 2 parents. In so doing, these family-style homes will provide opportunity for each child to flourish and thrive. They will receive all the love, attention, and affection they would in a traditional family—and receive an example of how a family operates for when they start one of their own.
Additionally, access to health, dental, and social care is provided while each child is prepared for the future through education, responsibility, support, and the structure that parents were designed to provide.
We carry out our work with the highest level of excellence, treating each child as if he or she is our own.
With your support, The Hope Effect is building its first family-style home on the campus of La Providencia in Siguatepeque, Honduras (the second poorest country in Central America). La Providencia has proven experience with this model of orphan care and we look forward to partnering with them. Our goal is to raise $125,000 for construction and two years of operation.
Following the completion of this project, The Hope Effect will construct its first full campus in Mexico.
The Becoming Minimalist Community
I have often wondered what is next for the Becoming Minimalist community—selling t-shirts or mouse pads never seemed quite right.
You comprise one of the most engaged, highly sought-after communities on the Internet. I receive emails every day from people who want to guest post on this blog and get their name in front of you (and that doesn’t even count all the advertisement pitches I receive). But growth for the sake of selfish and personal financial return never felt quite right either.
And, yet, on any given month, 800,000 – 1,200,000 unique visitors stop by Becoming Minimalist. Almost 1 million people every month.
That’s 1 million people who have decided they don’t want to buy stuff. One million people who realize they were called to something greater!
What could we accomplish if we focus that energy and those resources? What if we bonded together and set out to solve a real problem in the world today—a problem that all of us could get behind, regardless of our faith background, social status, or political views. What if we rallied around a problem that has existed for decades but nobody is talking about? What about orphan care?
What if we set out to change how the world cares for orphans?
Together, as a community, we can change the course of history.
If you consider yourself a part of the Becoming Minimalist community, if you have received any value from this site, or if the desire to be generous lives in your heart, join me.
Your decision to no longer pursue material possessions has freed you for something greater. It has freed you to provide homes and families to the most vulnerable in our society… and I can’t imagine ever experiencing a greater joy or level of fulfillment.
We have created two very simple ways for you to get involved. Choose one (or both) of the options below to get started:
1. Participate in our Homes for the Holidays Campaign. Got enough stuff already? Of course you do! Here’s a solution for your holiday season.
Rather than adding to the clutter in your home this holiday season, ask your friends and family to help you provide homes for orphans by making a donation rather than purchasing another present. It’s easy to do: Create your very own personalized fundraising page and share it with your friends and family. Sign-up today and we’ll send you a reminder e-mail on December 1st.
Our goal is to have 5,000 people participate in our Homes for the Holiday Campaign this year. I’ve already created my page. Join me this holiday season.
2. Join our $10 team. The simplest and most effective way for you to get involved changing orphan care around the world is to commit to donate just $10/month. We call it our $10 Team. Consider this, for the price of a Netflix subscription, you can provide loving homes and families for orphans around the world. It’s simple and safe to sign-up. The commitment is small, but the impact will be significant.
Our goal is to get 2,000 people to sign-up and join our Team. Providing the foundation for our work, they would generate nearly $250,000/year for orphan care—not just construction, but food and clothing and education and continuing medical care.
Our commitment to you is that 100% of your donation will be used exclusively for orphan care (construction of homes and operation of orphan care communities). My investment into The Hope Effect has provided the administrative funding so all public donations can be used for the reason it was intended. You can read more here. And because we are a registered 501(c)(3) organization, your donation is tax-deductible.
PS: If you are a blogger, we have a special opportunity for you to get involved in other ways. Read more here.
*UPDATE. I am overflowing with excitement. Only one day after announcing The Hope Effect, we have already received more than $25,000 in donations from 350+ people. And our $10 Team has grown to over 100 recurring donors. Thank you to everyone who has chosen to participate already.
**Over 55 Fundraising Pages have already been created.
What to Expect
This is an important day for me and one of the most significant in the history of Becoming Minimalist. Because of our collective desire to own less and pursue greater things with our lives, we are on the brink of making history and changing the lives of orphans around the world.
Let’s be known for the lives we live—not the things we can buy. (tweet that)
From time to time on this blog, I will make announcements concerning The Hope Effect and offer continuing opportunities to get involved.
But through it all, Becoming Minimalist will always stay true to its core message that there is more joy to be found in owning less than can be found in pursuing more. And we will continue to invite as many as possible to discover this truth in their lives. I hope you will join us.
To receive more-regular updates about The Hope Effect, visit the website, start your own fundraising campaign, join our $10 Team or make a one-time donation. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
I intend to be very active this week answering any questions you might have in the comment section below. If this cause resonates in your heart, I urge you to take action today.
Jennifer L Brown says
Inspiring both the Minimalism movie and The Hope Effect – I’m a transcontinental adoptee, abandoned on the streets and lived in an orphanage for almost 4 yrs. It’s a very near and dear subject and cause for me. Happy to see your work.
We as a family of 3 have decided to rid ourselves of so much stuff and be more thoughtful and deliberate as consumers. I can feel the liberation already.
However, some (maybe more than some) things both me and my daughter (she’s 6 and already a priceless sentimentalist) cannot bear to throw away.
My question, how does a sentimentalist be a minimalist?
Fran Welte says
As you and your daughter are uniquely amazing people I am sure that you will find ways to make use of any suggestions in your own way. With that in mind…
One thing I believe to be true is that you don’t have to own the thing to own the sentiment. I believe it is possible to increase the sentiment by relinquishing the item.
An example of that…My husband, John, recently gave the flag from his father’s military funeral to his only sibling, his younger sister, Becky. He told her that he felt that he had “owned” it for more than his fair share of time. Even though it’s tradition for the widow, then the oldest child to receive the flag, Becky was so very happy to get it that John got much more than he gave up.
I also believe that we aren’t required to give up the sentimental item but if we keep it, we should recognize it’s importance in our lives by giving it some pride of place, either in use, care or sharing.
Also, it may be possible to keep and record the sentiment through pictures, written stories of the significance of the item and verbal sharing of feelings and then let the item go.
Best of luck working with and respecting your family’s sentiments!
Heidi Allison says
Hello Joshua, I ran across your site and had to write. My husband, our 15 year old son and I have volunteered at an orphanage for the past two summers in Roatan, Honduras. It has been such a wonderful experience that we brought our entire extended family and 2 of my college students at the university that I work at in CA, who are volunteering at the orphanage all summer to teach them conversational English. We are now very motivated to help one of the teens from the orphanage hopefully come to CA to go to school for a year and live with us. He was abandoned at the age of 5 and is such a bright light; a very smart and kind 16 year old who we would like to help with his future. In order to bring him to this country on a student visa, we need to pay for a private school for a year. We can afford to support him otherwise, but need to do fundraising to help support the schooling. I would greatly appreciate any tips on fundraising for this important cause. We know he will benefit greatly from this experience. Thank you for your site and for all that you do. Yes, experience is so much more important than things!
David Weir says
My wife and I began orphan care 12 years ago by adopting as many children as possible and funding an orphanage on Roatan, Honduras. Our adoptions have worked out well, but the money and effort we spent on the Greenfield Children’s Home seemed misspent. The 25K seemed to be too little, too late, and some of the “orphans” were just kids one of the local prostitute’s did not want to raise, herself. When the kids got older, they went back to their mother to carry on the cycle of poverty. The kids need more vocational training and opportunities to work at skilled jobs.