Before the ball drops, I just have to say thank you for celebrating another year of miracles with us! This year we honored the vision and achievements of my dear friend and Kidsave Co-Founder, Terry Baugh. With your help, Terry and I have had extraordinary years together, creating life-altering moments. These beautiful bonds formed between kids who need families and loving adults were made possible because of your commitment to our work. I extend my sincerest gratitude to our supporters, guardians, families, volunteers, Board, and staff who together, transform the lives of children in the U.S. and abroad.
For more than 20 years dedicated partners like you have helped Terry and me sustain and expand our vision. Kidsave has now directly served more than 13,000 children and influenced change through policy work, partnerships, and training that has helped move more than 560,000 children out of institutions and into families.
We’ve had a big year, with the A&E Television Network premiere of “The Day I Picked My Parents” in September. One million people watched the five-part series, which focuses on the uniqueness of Kidsave’s Weekend Miracles model, and “voice and choice” for foster youth. As a result of the series, we’ve had enormous interest from the public, government and non-profits around the country in bringing Weekend Miracles to their areas. Our Los Angeles program continues to serve about 100 older foster kids each year, connecting them to families through monthly events, weekend hosting, and youth-specific advocacy. Kidsave partner-run programs are thriving in Colorado, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and a launch in Texas is underway. Expansion through partners will be a major 2020 goal!
Kidsave’s international hosting program, Summer Miracles, brought 45 Colombian children to the U.S. in July for a 5-week stay with host families who advocated for their adoption. More than 70 percent of those children already have families moving forward to adopt, and we continue to advocate for those who still need families. Recruitment for 2020 summer hosting has started, with a goal to help 60 children next year.
We are also proud of our global impact. We continue to train new partners. Current projects include our work to reunite children orphaned by Ebola in Sierra Leone with extended family. Over the past two years, we served 182 children and 100% of them now live in families. In Ukraine, where 106,000 children still live in orphanages, we launched a two-year Weekend Miracles pilot to demonstrate children can move into family care. Since its launch in late summer, 48 children have been placed in permanent families and 34 children are attending advocacy events in hopes of family placement. Our mentoring program there also has grown and expanded, now serving more than 115 transition-age youth in three cities.
Although “the other half of my brain,” Terry, has moved on to retirement, I am grateful for the groundwork she has laid, for her continued passion for our work, and her willingness to provide a listening ear and lend an expert hand when needed. Together, we’ve strengthened our infrastructure, grown our staff, diversified our Board of Trustees, and moved in the direction of expansion and growth. My dedicated Kidsave team and I will proudly continue this work to reach our goals.
This evening, and always, I ask that you also envision a world where every child is nurtured from birth, where the loss of human potential due to neglect is absent, and where all children grow up in stable, loving families.
Thank you again for believing in us and these children.