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Help us celebrate you, our volunteers and supporters, whose hard work and compassion is making a difference around the world.

Help us celebrate the tremendous role of volunteers and supporters in achieving a world free from hunger and poverty by sharing your story. Please use this form to record your story, or keep scrolling to read accounts from our amazing community. We can’t wait to hear from you!

 

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Leading by example

Deborah: Leading by example

Meet Kaitlyn! She is a bright, empathetic, hard- working, caring seventh grader. I first met Kaitlyn when she was a student in my first grade class. She, along with others I have met along the way, have kept my passion and drive for Heifer alive. During the last six...

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Deborah: Leading by example

Meet Kaitlyn! She is a bright, empathetic, hard- working, caring seventh grader. I first met Kaitlyn when she was a student in my first grade class. She, along with others I have met along the way, have kept my passion and drive for Heifer alive.

During the last six years of my 39-year teaching career I became involved with Heifer. Having grown up as a farmer’s daughter I found myself interested in Heifer and their mission. A contest, sponsored by Heifer, with a first prize of a trip to Africa caught my interest. My class of enthusiastic first graders decided to perform a song with animal puppets and recite a poem. Our entry was recorded by some equally enthusiastic parents and a supportive school principal. Although we didn’t win first prize, the second prize of a trip to the Heifer Farm in Perryville, Arkansas encouraged me to become a Heifer volunteer.

With the support of the school administration I was able to organize “Read to Feed” programs in both my home school as well as our local high school, middle school and four additional elementary schools. We also sponsored a three week fund raiser to promote awareness for the need of milk in Tanzania. These programs gave me the opportunity to teach others about Heifer’s history, values, and sustainable work. The students involved were made aware of the important role they could play in making a difference in the lives of many people in need.

Heifer supports their volunteers with amazing role models. I’ve been blessed to work with Liz Ellis and Rachel Merrill, both whom possess expert knowledge of Heifer’s mission, as well as drive and commitment. Along with dedicated volunteers, I’ve had the good fortune to meet new friends who share our passion for Heifer’s goals and mission statement.

For Kaitlyn’s sixth birthday she asked for donations to Heifer rather than gifts for herself. She then convinced her entire family to support Heifer with monetary donations. Kaitlyn’s continued commitment and interest in trying to make a difference in the world makes all who know her, especially her first-grade teacher, very proud. Kaitlyn is a bright light for the future of Heifer. Heifer transforms lives of all ages!

A tragedy and a miracle

John: A tragedy and a miracle

September 11, 2001. I was horrified by the events of the day, and confused. Why would anyone do what those 19 people had done? I could not make sense of it. And about two months later, a Heifer Catalog (mysteriously) ended up in my mail box. I had never heard of...

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John: A tragedy and a miracle

September 11, 2001. I was horrified by the events of the day, and confused. Why would anyone do what those 19 people had done? I could not make sense of it. And about two months later, a Heifer Catalog (mysteriously) ended up in my mail box. I had never heard of Heifer, but it seemed like a great approach to ending hunger and poverty. And so, I started a tradition within my family and circle of friends, that for special occasions, people would get something that they wanted and a Heifer gift. I think the first year, people were like “Huh?” When I explained that most of us fortunate enough to live in the USA have more “stuff” than we could ever use, AND we definitely did not need anymore “stuff,” people (acted like they) got it.

Anyway, this went on for about 10 years or so, and at the time, Heifer would allow people to visit Heifer projects. So I chose to go to Poland. It was an AMAZING experience. It was my first time in Poland (I have since returned to Poland three more times). And seeing the work that Heifer did in Poland, really got me excited. Since then, I have continued my tradition of giving Heifer gifts and I also volunteer at the Orange County Fair (when we have them) to tell people about what I saw in Poland.

Georgia: A lucky chance encounter

I moved to CT and on the front first page of the second section of the local paper was an article by Sharon Blair about her volunteering for Heifer; that was in the early 1980's. I went up to Overlook Farm with her and was immediately pulled into the incredible work...

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Georgia: A lucky chance encounter

I moved to CT and on the front first page of the second section of the local paper was an article by Sharon Blair about her volunteering for Heifer; that was in the early 1980’s. I went up to Overlook Farm with her and was immediately pulled into the incredible work that was being done!!! I went on a trip to Honduras where we did some work. I was happy to go to schools and churches to talk about Heifer and all they were doing for so many all over the world. I then became involved in the school community service program and arranged for seniors after they had completed their course work to go up to Overlook for a week of volunteering there. I have picture of a girl who had never made her own bed shoveling one of the stalls for manure!!!! My favorite of all!!!
Later I was able to be part of the goat kidding for several years and once for the lambing week. Just such a beautiful experience capped by a snowstorm and going out into the night to check on the status of the mothers waiting to give birth. Not a sound anywhere and the most beautiful sky. Made some great friends that we were able to keep for several years.
One year I went on a trip to Nepal and the coordinator at Overlook arranged for the head of the Heifer office in Kathmandu to take me up to a village where the rabbits had been already passed on and to meet the wonderful women who had become a real team. How lucky was I on that trip!!!!
Took some friends up to the farm from time to time, encouraged my godchild and her daughter to go for a volunteer weekend, and continued to volunteer most places that I could find a time.
I really miss the farm and wish I could get to Arkansas at some point…Had some great times with some of the MASS staff for sure…I try to stay involved as mush as I can and we do Alternative Giving at my church on several occasions. Heifer is always the one with the most donations.

How lucky I am!

Suzanne: How lucky I am!

My Heifer story spans many years punctuated by experiences and friendships that I could not have imagined for myself. Compassionate, ecumenical, world-savvy mentors set the example. Among them, Louise Johnson at First Christian Church in Vallejo, CA. During the 1970s...

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Suzanne: How lucky I am!

My Heifer story spans many years punctuated by experiences and friendships that I could not have imagined for myself. Compassionate, ecumenical, world-savvy mentors set the example. Among them, Louise Johnson at First Christian Church in Vallejo, CA. During the 1970s and 80s Louise welcomed worshippers to the “Produce Table,” where fresh bounty from her family garden was available to anyone for a donation to Heifer Project.

That was my introduction to Heifer. By 1990, my husband and I had settled in the Sacramento, CA area. There, we encountered Ray and Dorothy Miller and the Sacramento Area Heifer Volunteer Committee…..a somewhat legendary group for the tens of thousands of dollars collected for Heifer each year. I became a member of the Committee and organized Fill the Ark campaigns at Sierra Christian Church in Rocklin for over 20 years. Sometimes we took a carload of church kids and parents to Heifer’s Learning Center in Ceres, CA, where another mentor, Rev Bill Beck, was Heifer’s Regional Director in the West. At the Ceres Learning Center I met other Bay Area and Central Valley volunteers and Heifer Cowboys, and was a sometime docent for school programs.

In 1998, Bill Beck nominated me to serve on Heifer’s Board of Directors as a Pacific West representative. Being a Board member for six years enlarged my Heifer network and deepened my knowledge of sustainable animal agriculture, community development and environmental stewardship. I remember Heifer’s revenue reaching $10 million, the introduction of Heifer’s Cornerstones for Sustainable Development, and the purchase of land for a new LEED-certified headquarters building in Little Rock where I attended Heifer’s 60th. There were Heifer Study Tours to Bolivia, Peru, Poland, Slovakia, Albania, Kosovo and Ecuador, as well as visits to project sites in Appalachia and Chicago, Tanzania and Kenya, and participation in Women’s Lambing Weekend and Heifer University at The Perryville Ranch. I witnessed numerous ” Passing on the Gift” ceremonies, and participated in a ribbon-cutting for a milk collection facility in Kosovo, experiences that have stayed with me.

In 1996, my husband Roy and I enlisted the assistance of Jerry Bedford to establish a Charitable Remainder Trust with Heifer Foundation. Following Roy’s passing in 2006, I established The Awalt Family Endowment, also at the Foundation. Both of these estate gifts are still growing and blessing Heifer’s work. I have returned to live in the Bay Area and to First Christian Church in Vallejo, the place where I was introduced to Heifer Project. Each December, for over 20 years, First Christian Church has hosted an ecumenical Global Holiday Faire. Heifer has been one of the alternative gift options since the beginning. I love to share the good news that is Heifer and my witness to the transformative power of Heifer’s partnerships with families around the world. I have been a Heifer volunteer and donor for thirty years now, and I credit my association with Heifer for developing in me a passion for global citizenship and sustainable philanthropy. Heifer has also afforded me wonderful friendships that continue to sustain me. How lucky I am!!!

Suzanne Awalt
Member, Heifer Volunteer Committee, Sacramento, CA
Benicia, CA

Cleo: Passing on the gift

In 2008, my wife, Judy Parsons, and I joined a Heifer tour group in Guatemala. It was a great group and we had amazing, heart touching experiences. We had the good fortune to experience several "passing on the gift" events; as others have said, "It's hard to tell who...

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Cleo: Passing on the gift

In 2008, my wife, Judy Parsons, and I joined a Heifer tour group in Guatemala. It was a great group and we had amazing, heart touching experiences. We had the good fortune to experience several “passing on the gift” events; as others have said, “It’s hard to tell who is the happiest, the family receiving the life transforming gift….or the family who is empowered to offer it.” In one village they were passing on rabbits. The parents and children were all smiles as they offered the two does and one buck. Then they also provided a container of grass they had dug up for transplanting…grass the rabbits especially liked, and another container of small red worms that would work in the rabbit manure to change it into a valued fertilizer for growing flowers to take to the local market. Such amazing generosity!! It is one of my favorite Heifer memories from over 40 years of volunteering.

A lifetime with Heifer International

John: A lifetime with Heifer International

When I was 8 years old we had a barn fire and lost our entire herd of cattle in the fire, except for two young heifers. We kept one for a “family cow” and our church bought the other one and donated it to Heifer Project. Some time after that we received a letter from...

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John: A lifetime with Heifer International

When I was 8 years old we had a barn fire and lost our entire herd of cattle in the fire, except for two young heifers. We kept one for a “family cow” and our church bought the other one and donated it to Heifer Project. Some time after that we received a letter from the recipient family in Germany. My Dad could read enough German to translate the letter.

In 1969 my wife, Miriam, and I accompanied a plane load of Brahma cattle and Hampshire pigs to Ecuador. By the end of that year we were living and working in Ghana for Church World Service on secondment to the Christian Council of Ghana. Heifer Project, Inc. did not have a representative in Ghana but I took on that role and received a shipment of pigs, chicks and funds to purchase oxen for distribution in our oxen training program.

In 1975 I began working for Heifer Project International as the country representative in Belize where we developed programs that are still in operation today. After 5 years we returned to the States and I became the Mid Atlantic (and the Atlantic South) Regional Director. I served in that position for 18 years. I then served as pastor of churches in Manheim, PA and Greensboro, NC, churches that continue to support Heifer International. Since retiring I have volunteered with Heifer to present programs to schools, clubs and churches. I have also written a book about my experiences titled, “Intended for Good” which provides more information.

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Steve: A Flock of Geese

I donated a flock of geese and was so thrilled with Heifer’s commitment to sustainable development. I wanted to help them hands-on, so became a volunteer.

The Trip of a Lifetime

Barb: The Trip of a Lifetime

Barb was looking for something meaningful to do after retirement. When she received one of Heifer’s famous gift catalogs in the mail, she knew this was an organization she wanted to get involved with in a meaningful and long-lasting way. From the very first hours she...

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Barb: The Trip of a Lifetime

Barb was looking for something meaningful to do after retirement. When she received one of Heifer’s famous gift catalogs in the mail, she knew this was an organization she wanted to get involved with in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

From the very first hours she devoted as a volunteer in 2002, Barb has seen Heifer’s amazing work all over the world. “I’ve seen our projects in action in quite a few countries. I decided to become a donor and set up an endowment through the Foundation.” Most impacted by Heifer’s practice of Passing on the Gift®, she established the Barbara Oakes Endowment to ensure that even more families will continue to improve their lives for decades to come. “What we give may not seem like a whole lot of money to us, but it’s so much more to even the first person who receives, and then that person is going to give and it goes on and on.”

Barb attended a Seagoing Cowboys celebration in Medford, Indiana, during Heifer’s 70th anniversary in 2014. She hopes her love for Heifer and her example might inspire another friend to step forward to help.