After Joyce Adomitis retired from her career as a special education teacher in 2004, she took a year to regroup and then knew it was time to do something more with her life. Giving her time to others was uppermost in her mind. Her search connected her to Warm Blankets Orphan Care (WBOC)-a group that provides for children with no family or caregivers-in Africa, Asia, Central America, and the Dominican Republic. WBOC saw her talent for compassion and her special ability to resonate with people in need.
“They saw something in me that I didn’t,” she said. Warm Blankets evolved into Kinship United, a faith-based organization in Rolling Meadows which serves in previously war-torn or developing countries, helping to rebuild communities who can, in turn, care for orphans and widows by creating networks of churches and rescue centers.
Since then, Joyce, a Senior Corps-RSVP member, has worn several hats, giving of herself whenever and wherever she’s needed. Over the years the needs have taken her to Cambodia, Kenya and Uganda. She integrates into the lives of local children, playing with them, taking pictures, helping to obtain medical, educational and sheltering coverage for them. In other words, skills that are never out of date. And even though Joyce doesn’t speak the language in any of the countries she visits, she’s given an interpreter, but as she says, “They know I’m speaking from the heart so we just seem to communicate.”
“In these developing countries,” Joyce explains, “many children have lost their parents or any family member able to watch over them. They are constantly in danger of being taken. They are not even allowed to travel long distances to get water for fear that they may not return. That’s why volunteers support Kinship United’s work placing children in a home or rescue center. The paper trail is established with each child’s identity, medical records, family history, etc. The whole idea is to make sure a child has support, love and care.”
Her fondest memories include times when she sees a child new to a home or waiting to come into a home during the certification process. They’re quiet and obviously scared, nervous or withdrawn. “Then I see that same child a year later,” she says “and I see a transformation from fear and lack of hope to ‘cheeky.’ They’ve blossomed.”
Kinship United’s Director of Orphan Rescue Operations, Christine Fragoso, says of Joyce: “From the moment she arrives at a Kinship home until the moment she leaves, she is surrounded by children, engaging them all with games, toys, treats, and most importantly the special attention and love she has for each and every one.”
Although her traveling is now limited, Joyce’s enthusiasm and devotion to the program hasn’t diminished. She helps at Annie’s Resale for the World in Palatine which also supports Kinship United, through its sales or by hosting fundraisers. She helps keep the shop going by doing the essentials, including cleaning, sorting or working with people in need. Her jewelry creations (Yes, she makes jewelry too!) are sold at Annie’s and these sales help pay for equipment used by Kinship’s mission programs.
Joyce was especially excited last October when Annie’s Resale for the World hosted an extremely successful fundraiser. As a representative for Kinship United, she sold $731 worth of jewelry (from her own collection and handmade). Annie had planned that the proceeds would fund a baking oven for a church home in Uganda, but that week, its large, main printer, necessary for all their outreach needs, completely broke down. They were quite alarmed. Annie’s Resale dedicated the funds to the printer rather than to an oven.
Lately, Joyce has been putting in a few hours a week at Kinship United, but if a mission trip is scheduled, then she’s there, helping mission volunteers pack, send emails, or any other necessary details for travel to a strange and sometimes difficult environment.
Joyce has a simple philosophy for anyone who volunteers: “Take a risk. Think ‘How can I make another person’s life a little better?’ I try to remember if I don’t show up, someone will be hurt.”
For those interested in serving at Kinship United, Laura Lapp, the volunteer coordinator, is asking for a volunteer who can come in once a week to help with donor relations…sending out personalized mailings and thank you notes to supporters.
If interested in volunteering with Kinship United or Annie’s Resale for the World click on the links below to get connect: