Cultivating Children

Jamie O’Brien has never set foot in Honduras. Still, that’s where his heart is—specifically, with Finca del Nino, or Farm of the Child, and the children who reside there. Farm of the Child is on the Honduran northern coast. Missionaries there care for children who have been orphaned or abandoned, providing for their physical, medical, educational and spiritual needs. “It’s an island of safety for about 40 children,” says O’Brien (BBA ’88, Law ’93), Mendoza accountancy professor. Honduras, with the world’s highest murder rate, is beset by poverty, malnutrition, lawlessness and violence. “Honduras is not a safe place,” says O’Brien. “But Farm of the Child is.”

O’Brien’s initial involvement with Farm of the Child began when he taught a class for the Master of Nonprofit Administration program on the nonprofit legal environment. “During and after the class, situations arise, and students often bounce questions off me,” says O’Brien. “To the extent that I have time to assist, I do.” Farm of the Child Executive Director Andrea McMerty-Brummer (MNA ’10, ’01) was one such student. “I found myself assisting with more and more matters for the Finca,” O’Brien says. “About three years ago, Andrea asked if I would be interested in playing a bigger role by joining the board.”

Recently, O’Brien became chair of development for Farm of the Child. He’s hoping to bring some extra energy to bear on fundraising. “I am a very enthusiastic pro-life advocate,” he says. “I really like the idea of helping the folks who are helping these children whose parents aren’t able to raise them.”

www.farmofthechild.org

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What time is it? John Gaski, marketing professor and founding member of grassroots Central Time Coalition, has spent the last five years advocating for restoring eastern Indiana to CTS.

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Sandra Collins, associate teaching professor of management, has watched over the plight of neglected and abused children as a long-term Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

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Jerry Langley is involved in several organizations, but the one he especially takes pride in helping is the South Bend Civic Theater, where he serves as a board member and is active in other ways, all in an effort to promote arts in the local community.

Langley, a finance professional specialist, also works with Volunteers of America, a billion-dollar national nonprofit that helps the elderly, veterans and former prisoners with medical issues, housing and other needs. Tom Harvey, director of Nonprofit Professional Development, also supports VOA, both personally and professionally as a partnering organization.

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Domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any age, and its lifelong effects are devastating. An estimated one in four women experience domestic violence in her lifetime. The 3.3 million children who witness violence in their homes each year are 15 times more likely to be victims of child abuse. 

Wendy Angst, management associate professional specialist, became a volunteer with YWCA of North Central Indiana to let women know they’re not alone, and there is a way out. “Our YWCA stands by the commitment to turn no one away,” says Angst who now serves on the board of directors. “They served 1,415 women and children in the past year alone.” 

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Since 2002, Mike Vogel, entrepreneur-in-residence with the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship, has had a passion for helping children with special needs. He’s been involved with a range of organizations, but today, his main focus is the CASIE Center, a child advocacy center in South Bend, Ind. CASIE provides a comprehensive and coordinated multidisciplinary team approach to the problem of child abuse by establishing a safe, supportive, child-friendly environment for child victims, their families and professionals who investigate and address these problems. In 2013, CASIE conducted 1,610 interviews of children at the center.