“Over 30,000 children in Ghana, Africa are homeless. Whether they are sold into slavery by desperate parents, losing parents to disease or are abandoned, they are cast onto the streets alone.”
Heartbeat for Hope (H4H), a nonprofit organization founded by Oklahoma Christian University alumna Aubrie Ross, has helped support and educate children in Ghana since 2008.
H4H will host its 10-Year Anniversary Dinner and Silent Auction at 6 p.m. tonight at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City, with a goal of raising $50,000 to send five students to university and 14 village children to school, according to their website.
“There’s 14 children at the Village of Hope who don’t have sponsors and who don’t have someone to financially support them and provide their food and tuition,” Ross said. “We would love to be able to eliminate that need and be able to say for the first time that [Village of Hope has] all of the children sponsored.”
According to Ross, she founded H4H to support the orphanage Village of Hope after discovering it was a church-based orphanage, and Oklahoma Christian professor Jeff McMillon has been a board member for H4H from the beginning.
“Aubrie inspires me,” McMillon said. “Years ago, she formed H4H before she had ever even personally visited Ghana. That is faithful living and answering a call to love and serve. It’s also inspirational to see these Ghanaian children growing to college age and beyond and really doing good things with their lives.”
Ross said she partnered with Village of Hope because of their mission of nurturing in-need, destitute, orphaned children in a wholistic way by providing them with excellent education, healthcare and love, while building them in character and leadership.
“We weren’t beginning something brand new,” Ross said. “When we discovered Village of Hope, we realized this is something we believe in and we have the same eternal goals of getting these kids to heaven someday. We wanted to be a part of that. Our mission is their mission, just with the added outreach from the U.S., domestic side.”
According to Ross, the organization does not employ anyone but relies on volunteers, and everything donated to H4H goes directly to the Village of Hope and its children. Even the celebration’s auction items were donated, including Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton concert tickets, a night’s stay-cation in the penthouse suite of the 21C hotel in Bricktown and a progressive dinner for four.
“The [business] expenses we have throughout the year are all funded through business donations,” Ross said. “People can feel confident that what they are donating is going toward what we said it’s going toward. We are completely open about any costs, donations and what it’s for. We want it to be a partnership with our donors as well.”
According to Ross, several Oklahoma Christian alumni are involved with H4H, including Lauren Tallon, Judi Lashley, Chelsea West, Amy Hubble and Jeff McMillon. Ross is a former member of the Theta Theta Theta women’s social service club on campus and wanted to involve the younger generation of Theta women, like junior Luana Miranda, in the 10-Year Anniversary Dinner and Silent Auction.
“They will be what we are calling ‘floor assistants’,” Ross said. “Our whole action this year is mobile. [This] has great benefits because [people] don’t have to get out of their seats or miss any of the program to go check out auctions or rebid. However, there might be ways people might not know what they are doing. Our floor assistants are there to help.”
Miranda is a current member of Theta and one of the college students volunteering as a floor assistant.
“I’ve always thought it was really important—education—especially in developing countries,” Miranda said. “I liked the idea of volunteering and helping them out.”
According to Ross, one of the most important aspects of H4H is relationships, both domestic and international. In order to build these relationships, members of the organization communicate with the Ghanaian children frequently through letters and videos.
“We think that’s how outreach is successful, but also because we are partners in a greater mission of eternity,” Ross said. “Forming relationships is a foundation of that. It’s a really neat opportunity to have a relationship with someone on the other side of the world.”
McMillion said the work H4H does is “humanizing” and important to both citizens in Ghana and the U.S.
“It builds bonds and forms deep relationships with people from different cultures and life experiences, and that’s something the world needs: love, peace, kindness, mutual respect and seeing all of the world as image bearers of God,” McMillon said.
According to Ross, people can support the organization either financially through donations or by volunteering. The director of Village of Hope, Fred Asare, is visiting from Ghana and will be speaking in Oklahoma Christian’s chapel Wednesday, Oct. 10 to introduce a program allowing students to take trips to the village with H4H.
“It will be an application trip looking more like a mentoring program for the older children at Village of Hope, but it would be a mission trip,” Ross said. “We are always welcoming volunteers in various ways. It’s a good, easy way to get experience especially if people are interested in nonprofit work.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or attending the 10-year anniversary celebration should visit the organization’s website.