LWB Community Blog

A Day In the Life of Two Healing Homes Volunteers

Jan Champoux, Heartbridge Pediatric Healing Unit Coordinator

1 : an act or rite of dedicating to a divine being or to a sacred use
2 : a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose
3 : self-sacrificing devotion

“Dedication” is the first word that comes to mind when envisioning LWB volunteers. Our worldwide group of volunteers, as well as our Board of Directors, is one of the most talented and dedicated teams imaginable. Our volunteers come from all walks of life from twelve countries around the world. This foundation is blessed to have so many incredible individuals all working tirelessly for a common cause…to change the lives of orphans in China.

So…what is a typical day in the life of an LWB volunteer? The answer to that question is as unique as each of our staff members.   They range from adoptive parents to hopeful waiting parents. From housewives and busy moms to business owners and corporate executives. The list goes on and on. Each individual brings their unique talents to our table and whether they contribute two hours per week, 10 hours per week or 20 hours per week, the results of their dedication are felt by the many beautiful children that we serve in each of our five programs half a world away. The common thread tying all of these people together is their love of children and their generous hearts. Their compensation is witnessing a critically ill child get healthy after lifesaving surgery or a premature, failure-to-thrive baby put on weight with proper nutrition, or children lovingly cared for in foster homes, or children enjoying school and having the chance at a real education for the first time. Each day brings stories of success and hope and love. These are the paychecks of the heart that our volunteers receive.

To give a sense of a typical day in the life of our volunteers, we’ve asked some of our team members to share a bit about themselves.  This week, we’ll be hearing from two volunteers who work with our Healing Homes program.  First we spoke to Jan Champoux, who is featured in the above photograph.

1. Jan, how did you learn about LWB? I remember reading a plea from Amy Eldridge, years ago, when she was raising money to help baby Kang receive heart surgery. She touched such a chord with so many people, and I just remember thinking what an incredible woman she must be. A year or so later, I continued to hear about the new foundation, “Love Without Boundaries,” and the children they were helping. I remember thinking how inadequate I felt, raising my own daughter from China, while other people were reaching out and making a difference for MANY children still waiting in orphanages. Not long after that, several members from my DTC group got involved, I heard their stories, and when my schedule allowed, I jumped aboard too. That was in 2005.

2.  Describe a typical day as an LWB Healing Homes volunteer. After getting my kids off to school, I grab some coffee and head for the computer. You never know what might have happened during the day on “China Time,” so I feel like I need to check email before doing anything else.  On a typical day I will correspond to our staff in China, and also coordinate care and the comings and goings of children between Medical, Healing Homes, and sometimes Foster Care if we have a child ready for discharge. I am likely to hear from a sponsor or two with questions or comments about an update. I receive notification of donations, log those in, send out a thank you/introduction to their new child, etc.   There is likely to be a little joking around with some of my LWB buddies, we like to keep each other amused…you have to have fun at your job! There is usually some writing to be done, either on child updates, or blogs and other promotional items.

3. What do you enjoy most about being an LWB volunteer? I enjoy knowing that I am doing something to help a child who may not have anyone in their corner without the involvement of LWB. I love the friendships I have developed with other volunteers, and also program sponsors. It is so funny how you can feel “close” to somebody you have never met in person.   I enjoy feeling like I am making a difference to someone.

Julie Flynn Coleman, Healing Homes Director (and Director of LWB Ireland)

Next, we spoke with Julie Flynn Coleman: My hubby Colm and I were married for 17 years when Robyn, our first daughter, born in Hunan (Xiangtan) made us a mom and dad.  We then adopted Lian, also from Hunan (Loudi) and then Wynter from Anhui (Huainan) two years later.  The adoption process in Ireland is VERY long, and we were only the sixth couple in Ireland to adopt from China.

After seeing Amy Eldridge’s appeal for funds for baby Kang, I became very interested in what LWB was doing and really appreciated the fact that I could see where the money went.  To make a long story short, I found myself in China in 2004 putting together a playroom in Gaoming, and then I met Amy in Shantou to finish off a play/physical therapy room.  Later that trip, a group of us LWB volunteers journeyed to Loudi to discuss setting up the LWB Loudi Foster Care program!  (Yikes– was I scared then!)  However, the Loudi Foster Care program opened in March 2005 with me as the manager. I still stay in touch even though I left that position to take on coordinating Henan Cleft Healing Home in late 2008.

In addition to directing the Healing Homes program, I am now also the LWB Director of Ireland and keep the bank account going and the fires burning for that. I have hopes to register LWB nationally this year in Ireland!  I have also spent a term on the LWB Board as Vice-President.  I try to visit my beloved China (Loudi in particular) once or twice a year (depending on cheap flights and my hubby’s good heart to stay home and mind the girls).

Is there a typical day working for LWB?  Not really, which is what makes it so much fun!    However, here’s what a typical day for me looks like.  After I take the kids to school and put on some washing, I spend approximately 4.5 hours working on LWB stuff.   I check emails throughout the day as I collect kids, do homework and make dinner (great avoidance technique for housework!)   Then any time from 8pm on, I sit with my laptop again.

The biggest “joy” of all for me is when I see a child make it through the odds stacked against them to reach out, find and achieve their potential.  Above my PC I have a photo of a girl who once was in our foster care program.  She is now smiling in her forever family home!   I tell you all, one look her way, feeling that joy, knowing that somehow you might just have made the difference …. what more could a heart ask for?

To become a volunteer with LWB, please visit the Volunteer Application on our website.

Thanks to Kristine Fornek, the Human Resources Director for LWB (shown here with her family), for the introduction to this piece.

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  • It’s so nice to put Jan’s name and face together. During our wait for our Li’l Empress, we discovered (in some long twisted, only in the IA blogging community way) that LWB was running a nutritional support program in our daughter’s orphanage group. While Jan wasn’t blessed to know in person our lively lovely little girl, she was MARVELOUS at allaying my concerns about my daughter’s nutritional background. It was so helpful to know what formula to purchase here and what to look for when we got to Xian. And to know that there was a real live person connected to my girl’s every day life there was such a comfort. The network of support in this blogging/int’l adoption community is priceless. Thanks for featuring Jan – she’s got a special place in our heart for sure 🙂