Skip to body

Alumni

Creating a Worldwide Family

Central Washington University alumni, Chris Clark, has made it his life mission to serve and care for orphaned children in their home nations. Chris and his wife Debbie are the founders of Children of the Nations, an organization supporting orphaned children around the world.

Clark was a student at Central, working towards a degree in Law and Justice. Upon his graduation in 1984, Clark thought he may take a career as a probation officer or working with juvenile delinquents. His time at CWU was well spent, eventually giving him a better understanding of what it was like working with troubled or displaced children. Although he discovered this was not his true calling, Clark credits Central for steering him in the right direction. 

Clark and his wife Debbie decided to embark on a trip to Africa in 1995, where they encountered orphans and refugee children in dire need of assistance and care. With true dedication to helping these children, he returned to the United States, researching an organization that would help these children. To his and his wife’s dismay an organization to help orphaned children around the world did not exist.

It was at this time the Clark’s decided they had to do something about this issue thus the Children of the Nations was born.

“Seeing the need orphans had in Sierra Leone, and researching non-governmental organizations or non-profits and coming up short, I felt compelled to do something” Clark said. “My wife had been trained to work with children and we thought that we could not make an excuse to bypass the tremendous needs of orphans around the world.”

To start this organization, they did not receive any grants or private funds, instead using their own funds to spread the word. They started by creating a child sponsorship program so anyone who wanted to help in some way could, through sponsorship opportunities.  It eventually took on a life of its own, as everyone was invited to join in.

With the first few years under their belt, the funding primarily came from child sponsorships and individual donations. The money they raised enabled them to operate homes, schools, farms, skill centers, clinics, and village feeding centers in an effort to provide quality care for the children. Each country has a Children of the Nations home-base, with an individual mission style, nonprofit organization that is recognized among Christian charities.

Traveling to every Children of the Nations location isn’t easy, but the Clark’s make it a priority to see the more than 4,300 children that are part of the network. Chris goes at least twice a year, while his wife goes once a year. There is an emotional connection to the children and the desire for them to succeed which is important to the Clark’s work. This is evident as the children that are part of the organization affectionately refer to the Clark’s as “mom and dad.” 

Having three adopted children of their own, as well as five grandchildren, the Clarks naturally have become very torn between being home and traveling. Now that their children are adults it is easier to pick up and travel as needed. In order to balance the demands of travel they have dedicated January through June as their season abroad spending time in Africa and the Caribbean. June through September is usually at the office in Silverdale, Washington, and September through December is usually, on the road, here in the USA.

The Children of the Nations has been successful in achieving major milestones, such as: The Village Partnership program that is developed to address the unique needs of a community; The Children’s Homes, that provide full-time family-style care for orphaned children; and The University/Vocational program which helps students in Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the United States, to get a high-quality education. There are graduates of the University/Vocational program have already become doctors, teachers, and other professionals.
    
“Our hope is to build out our model so that we have structures and programs in place for children to enter at pre-school and go all the way through to university level, or be trained in a skill.” Chris said. “Beyond this, our hope is that our children become involved in every aspect of their societies and communities creating tipping points that will end the cycles of abuse, poverty, and ignorance.”

Children of the Nations has made huge strides, from the initial desire in 1995 to help children in need overseas, to today with the child sponsorship program. Children of the Nations was started with a vision, and a monthly budget of $300; today it operates with an annual budget of more than $7 million.

Children of the Nations has become a worldwide movement of people, all working towards one common goal of giving foreign children the chance at an education and the opportunity to build a better life for themselves.

To learn more or to get involved please visit: www.cotni.org.

 

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.

Admissions@cwu.edu