JBFC’s 10th Anniversary: JBFC’s Board Looks Back

April 11, 2016 7:47 pm Published by

Editor’s Note: As part of JBFC’s ongoing celebration of our 10th Anniversary, JBFC’s Board of Directors look back at a decade of making a difference in rural Tanzania. To read more about JBFC’s progress over the last ten years, click here.

Jim Agnello, Board President:

I first traveled to JBFC in July of 2008 thinking I would visit once and move on in my ongoing quest of world travels. I have never been so wrong in my life! I was instantly taken by the incredible work of a very young JBFC. At that time, there were very few buildings on campus and no guest house. Two bedrooms in Chris’ home served as bunk rooms for the small number of visitors. The number of girls were few, and there was no school.

The girls won my heart despite the then language barrier. I vowed to return and have done so I believe 15 times since then! In 2012, I visited JBFC on three separate occasions, never once minding the long flights in coach. Many of my Bronxville high school students have traveled to JBFC. Some will return for the fourth time this year to teach in the school, work on the farm and create lasting bonds with the students in the home and at the school. The girls at JBFC see visitors as a blessing and can name just about each student that has traveled since our first students in 2009.

I have had the heartwarming experience to watch many of the girls and students literally grow into young adults. The dedication and vision Chris has provided with the inspiration of his grandmother, Mimi, with whom I traveled to JBFC on several occasions, simply is unparalleled in today’s often narcissistic society.

The committed staff at JBFC in Tanzania and in the states is as altruistic as it gets. I am proud to be associated with JBFC and extremely grateful, not only for its primary work of eliminating extreme rural poverty with a first-rate operation, but also personally and for all my students and visitors that are truly changed after visiting JBFC and therefore making the world a better place one day at a time. To Chris and the staff from my heart, asante sana (thank you)!

Lindsay Fick, Board Secretary:

As a Board Member I am continually amazed at the myriad of ways JBFC touches lives.  The lives of the girls are enhanced through the nuture, the education, the love they each receive.  The lives of the staff reflect hearts created to be of service.  The lives of the volunteers are changed forever realizing the blessing they are to the mission of JBFC while realizing the blessing to them has been even greater.  Ten years later Chris Gates’ vision is a remarkable reality.

Ed Nunnelee, Board Treasurer:

I have seen such amazing things happen during my time supporting JBFC and as a member of the Board of Directors. The original vision I had was a home for street girls from the nearby villages. Dorms, a school and a farm were planned without knowing exactly what it would take or how to get it done. Today we have a complete campus for the girls as well as an expanded support capability to serve the community. This all has come about due to the work of Chris Gates, the JBFC staff and the many donors who asked to be involved with the development.

Kathy LaFortune, Board Member:

I think the most wonderful thing for me is to have been a part of helping children in another part of the world. We don’t choose where we are born and grow up, so to be able to help children in what for me is a faraway land is to know that we can impact lives in this way. It gives us a connection to something bigger than ourselves.  I work with juveniles in Tulsa who are experiencing many types of trauma, but JBFC is a positive force in improving lives and seeing results blossom before you when you meet the kids who travel to Tulsa.

Cindi Gortner, Board Member:

Being a JBFC board member has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I am overwhelmed with awe when I stop to think of all the thousands of people  that Chris and his team have impacted over the last ten years: the girls whose lives were ones of tragedy and misery prior to JBFC,  the hundreds of school children now grateful for their quality education, the faculty and staff in the school and the employees at the girls home all with good jobs, the villagers nearby that JBFC has a relationship with, the scores of volunteers who have visited JBFC falling love with the girls there and becoming deeply touched and inspired to do good in the world,  and similarly the thousands of school children in many different states here in the US that have been able to hear the story when Chris has visited their schools and felt moved by his accomplishments and vision by JBFC is powerful and heartwarming.

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This post was written by Mainsprings