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CFCA Reaches $1 Billion Mark in Support for Needy people
By
Dennis Sadowski
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
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Bob Hentzen completed a 17-month, 8,000-mile walk in June, 2011, to show solidarity with the poor.
WASHINGTON (CNS)—What started as a simple plan to connect average people in the United States with needy children and elderly people in some of the world's poorest communities has reached the $1 billion mark.

The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging reports that after more than 30 years, it has surpassed the financial milestone thanks to the sustained contributions of hundreds of thousands of sponsors responding to the Gospel call of compassion for others.

Through monthly contributions ranging from $15 to $30 from about 250,000 sponsors, the organization is able to support 300,000 children and senior citizens with basic needs such as food, medical care, clothing and school tuition, said Martin Kraus, director of finance.

The organization does not rely on government or corporate grants to carry out its mission.

"A small amount of money from a whole lot of people equals a whole lot of help," said Kraus, quoting president and co-founder Robert Hentzen, a former Christian Brother.

"Our sponsors tell us frequently that we provide them a practical and trustworthy way for them to act out the Gospel call to serve the poor," Kraus said.

Based in Kansas City, Kan., CFCA was started by a group of laypeople meeting in a basement who wanted to help young and old alike with basic needs. It has grown to become one of the world's largest charitable organizations sponsoring individuals. It operates programs in 22 countries.

"I don't think they ever dreamed 30 years later, CFCA would have accomplished all it did," Kraus said.

CFCA is built on the basic principles of human dignity, strong families, the power of mothers as primary caregivers and friendship, he said.

"We want to make sure first and foremost in the countries we're in, to do right by those communities and have good solid programs there," he said.

The organization places strong emphasis on education for the children it sponsors, explaining to parents that the best opportunity for their children to escape poverty and to secure a better life is to remain in school.

Kraus said the average sponsor stays with the program for more than seven years. During that time, individual donors correspond with the person they are sponsoring, regularly exchanging letters and photos.

Sponsors also can meet the child or elderly person they are supporting through periodic mission trips the agency organizes. Kraus said such encounters help form an emotional bond that serves to bridge cultural and geographic divides.

Three decades after helping CFCA get off the ground, Hentzen remains an integral part of the operation. He lives in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. In June 2011, he completed a 17-month, 8,000-mile walk across 12 countries to show solidarity with the poor.
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Editor's Note: More information about the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging can be found online at www.cfcausa.org.


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