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.
I am so inspired by the work you’re doing, as I myself work for a non-profit that helps abused and neglected children in the Seattle area (many of whom are in the foster care system). I’m wondering if you have plans to duplicate this model in the US?
Sorry for the repeat question, I noticed you’ve answered it multiple times now!
joshua becker says
Thanks for letting me know you found the answer elsewhere. I was just getting ready to answer yours. You saved me some time.
Hi Joshua, fantastic idea I love everything you have written and it has totally changed my life I now live simply and definitely becoming a major minimalistic person thank you for teaching me I feel free and have such mental clarity I will definitely be donating I have always had a desire to help orphans….I wish there was a place near my home I would love and hold them in my free time:). Thank you! ” because less stuff is really more”
joshua becker says
Stacey, you might want to look into getting involved into a local program that cares for orphans: CASA, for example (http://www.casaforchildren.org)
Thank you for the work you do, the great praticial advice you give, I have applied a couple of them. My question, is this program only for ophans outside of U.S.? I love the concept, I’m an advocate for children & women. (In domestic violence field)
This a wonderful, life changing mission. All the best. I will share this with my FB friend,
joshua becker says
Thank you Mildred for your encouraging words.
The United States already seeks to implement family-based solutions to orphan care through the foster-care system. It has flaws, no doubt, the most notable of which being the number of children who need placement far exceeding homes available and willing. In that way, there is certainly a need to focus on the US and find solutions. But with this specific model that we are proposing, the focus will be on countries where traditional, institutional style orphanages are still the norm.
Mary Campbell says
This touches my heart. An inspired and inspiring idea. I will be donating from Canada.
joshua becker says
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Joe W. says
Thanks for taking the lead on such a worthy project. In addition to supporting in the ways you outlined above, I’d like to discuss other ways to contribute as well. I saw a Kickstarter yesterday for a pair of pants that raised more than $250K in a short time, so we ought to be able to add a couple zeros to that figure, especially given the fact that 100% of public donations are being used for Orphan care. Cheers!
joshua becker says
Sure. You can always send me an email.
As a long-time minimalist who has only just begun exploring the online community, I really appreciate this. I appreciate the specific goal of your effort but I appreciate the spirit even more. Though, as I mentioned, I’m new to this, I have been sorry to encounter so many people who are still so focused on stuff (in this case the lack of stuff rather than it’s acquisition – an improvement) and personal gain, usually in the form of early retirement.
While I haven’t read here for long and usually avoid very large websites, this project alone tells me that your actions are motivated by underlying values, which is wonderful!
Kevin Broyles says
Dear Joshua – greetings from La Paz, Bolivia – 13,000 feet in the air and also one of the poorest countries in South America. HOPE worldwide is working with Fundacion Arco Iris with orphans and vulnerable children here. My wife became an orphan at age 7. As a medical missionary and dedicated minimalist (thanks to you) – we see the need and the opportunity. Even though we are missionaries ourselves we would like to contribute to your great project and believe it will be a great success. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do so. Kevin & Noelle Broyles, HOPE worldwide, La Paz, Bolivia, South America
“The Drop Box” great documentary on Netflix. All about how an Asian community cares for abandoned infants.
Nikki T says
CM – Thank you for this. It is a great documentary!
Wonderful idea. My heart matches your heart. I adopted my daughter from the foster care system. She had been in the system from age 3 months until age 11. She has nightmarish stories to tell. Let’s not forget the need in this country as well. I was also part of a support team for a very similar program in Venezuela. Many children there are left to fend for themselves on the streets. The needs are great. God bless you in this endeavor.
joshua becker says
Thanks Kerry. I appreciate your heart and the life you have lived caring for those who need it most.
What about being able to donate gently used clothing? (Since we’re already clearing out closets.) As the mother of an 8 yr old son adopted from
Russia, I thank you for the work your organization is doing.
joshua becker says
Thanks Debra. That may be something we could consider in the future. But right now, we are not in a position to handle that type of donation. We agree it is a great idea.