April 01, 2014
4Life Research: Hope to See beyond Tomorrow
by Karyn Reagan
- Founded: 1998
- Headquarters: Salt Lake City
- Founders: David and Bianca Lisonbee
- Products: immune support, general wellness
Foundation 4Life service projects focus on equipping disadvantaged individuals around the world with the tools they need to move beyond bare survival.
David Lisonbee was searching for answers to health issues that were not responding to anything he tried when he stumbled across a scientific finding from 1949. New York University professor Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence, an immunology pioneer, wrote about how immune system experiences from one mammal could be transferred through factors in the body to another mammal. The receiving mammal’s immune system could be educated by those factors, now known as transfer factors. Lisonbee gave his own immune system the boost it needed using clues from the research, and the results were convincing.
According to Calvin Jolley, Vice President of Communications at 4Life Research, when Lisonbee shared the success with his wife, Bianca, she felt that this discovery should be made available to the world. He agreed, and in 1998 they launched the company with a signature product dubbed Transfer Factor Classic.
Lisonbee’s experience in direct selling and publishing in the health and wellness sector supported his decision to use direct selling as the marketing vehicle. 4Life has grown every year since its formation and now has a presence in over 23 countries around the world. And the original signature offering has been joined by a full line of Transfer Factor products that support various body systems.
In addition to the results of the products, 4Life’s growth is due in part to the extensive training offered to its distributors as well as its use of technology. “We are heavily involved in social media, including photos, action items, company news and product updates,” Jolley says. “Our e-news, which has received recognition by the DSA, is sent around the world via email providing current updates and information. We also utilize text messaging, Facebook (with over 70,000 likes on our page), Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube to communicate with our distributors regarding company news, product updates and action items for business building. Every medium carries consistent weekly messages.” There is even a mobile app that distributors can utilize to access account information, company news and training materials wherever they have an Internet connection. 4Life also hosts corporate sponsored conference calls, inviting corporate and field leaders in the company as guest speakers to inspire and motivate attendees.
Commitments That Lead to Change
The Lisonbees built 4Life on a three-tiered foundation of Science, Success and Service. “The science of the products has brought the success of the company and its distributors, who are then encouraged to serve those in need,” Jolley says. In 2006, the charitable work that the company had always engaged in was formalized into a nonprofit entity called Foundation 4Life.
Tracie Kay is the Director of 4Life Service, which includes Foundation 4Life and the 4Life Fortify nutrition program. She explains that the focus of the foundation is to lead a community in need to a place of self-sustainability. “We look for projects where we can enter into a long-term relationship and build a new legacy of hope for otherwise hopeless situations,” she says. “Our focus is to provide the essential needs of children—nutrition, shelter, and education—but the cycle of poverty is most heavily influenced through education on several different levels for both the children and the parents.” The foundation partners with entities already working in the community and commits to getting them to a level where the individuals they are helping can stand on their own feet. “We teach educational skills to kids and parents as well as basic survival skills such as gardening, baking and even managing chicken farms. It depends on the culture,” Kay says. “For example, if a family can grow and manage their own food, we have started them on a path of newfound hope. It’s definitely a long-term commitment.”
Currently, there are philanthropic projects taking place in over 30 countries where 4Life distributors are active. “We encourage distributors to become involved in the projects,” she says. “Some are even drawn to the business by first being involved in what we are doing in their community.”
|5-year-old Juanita attends kindergarten in a Honduras community where Foundation 4Life has committed to help families and children.||Aneurys Perez, a recipient of Foundation 4Life’s giving in the Dominican Republic, returns the blessing to his aging grandparents.|
A Glimpse at the Global Impact
The first country Foundation 4Life reached into with assistance was the Dominican Republic, specifically through La Casa Rosada, an orphanage for children with HIV. “We launched the Foundation in 2006 with a major donation to expand the facility operated by the Catholic Church,” Kay says. “Once there was sufficient shelter for the orphans we went to work on providing educational opportunities.” There was a need for some of the 3- to 5-year-old children to be better prepared for school on a social level. “They had a tendency to act up and get kicked out of regular schools,” she says. “The sisters running the orphanage recommended a Montessori-style preschool. We acted on their suggestion and have seen great results with the social and academic preparedness of the children for mainstream schools, and they are able to learn like their peers.” Montessori teaching is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development. The on-site preschool teachers also work with individuals with special needs. 4Life Fortify and other 4Life Transfer Factor products are also donated to the orphanage to provide better nutrition for all who live and work there.
Aneurys Perez is one of the first two residents at La Casa Rosada to graduate from high school. His mother died of HIV when he was young, and because his grandparents were unable to support him and his younger brother the orphanage became their home. “Foundation 4Life was able to provide Aneurys with a full scholarship, including room and board, to a local Santo Domingo university,” Kay says. “He was also given his first job by a local 4Life distributor who needed administrative support running his 4Life business.” Aneurys later applied to work at the local airport, was hired as an immigration officer and has since received promotions as he continues to work on his bachelor’s degree in marketing.
Aneurys has learned the power of giving and now returns the blessing to his aging grandparents. He has paid for them to install running water in their modest home, pays their monthly water bill and purchased a washing machine and refrigerator for them. He is also funding extra-curricular classes for his younger brother in preparation for high school graduation this year. “It feels great to have been a part of changing a life and a legacy for Aneurys and his family,” Kay says.
In Honduras, parents send their children into the streets to sell a variety of items or do odd jobs in order to add a dollar or two to the meager family income. Kay says that often education is not a priority; survival is. “In response to the desperation of the people of Jardines del Norte, Honduras, we have made a six-year commitment to reach out through programs at a community center for which we sponsored the construction,” she says. “We are working hard to create a paradigm shift, changing a mindset adopted through years of poverty.”
Through education and hands-on experience, Foundation 4Life hopes to train as many families as possible how to sustain themselves and their community. “Many mothers join their children at the center and are offered classes specifically designed for them,” Kay says. “Lessons in good hygiene and nutrition are at the top of the list. We also teach jewelry-making skills, providing the mothers a way to contribute to the household income.” And there is a huge garden on the property to teach families how to plant and harvest their own food to consume and sell. “The people of this community shop for one meal at a time because that is all they can afford. There is a sense of desperation and day-to-day survival,” she says. “We work to offer them hope to see beyond tomorrow.”
Closer to Home
|Through Foundation 4Life’s support, Juanita is able to receive a healthy meal and school materials.
In the United States, Foundation 4Life implemented a program in 2009 to help less fortunate children at the Guadalupe School in Salt Lake City. “Every year we provide school supplies to those who cannot afford them, and two years ago we began sponsoring the early childhood education program at the school. Additionally, Foundation 4Life was a major contributor for the construction of their new school that is currently on track to open this fall,” Kay says. “Last fall we extended our educational initiatives to three additional cities in the country.” Local 4Life distributors rallied to help in Barberton, Ohio; Miami, Fla.; and Downey, Calif., distributing backpacks and hygiene supplies, depending upon the needs of the students.
“During the holiday season Foundation 4Life also gave follow-up donations to high-risk students in each school,” she says. “For instance, over 200 uniforms were provided to the school in Miami. Two hundred sweatshirts were given to students in Downey to help them through the cooler winter months, and three families were treated to a substitute for Santa by local distributors.” Children at the school in Utah received additional school supplies, and 4Life supported a Christmas store where parents could procure gifts for their children. “When we heard from mothers of the kids who received the gifts, they were overwhelmed by the support of total strangers,” Kay says. “And although some of the projects are small, these four schools know they can count on us to lighten their financial burdens two to three times each year for an indefinite period of time.”
Foundation 4Life is funded by the generous donations of its distributors. The methods of giving include:
- a one-time donation added to any product order
- a recurring donation from bonus checks
- purchasing an autoship pack of products that includes a built-in donation
Another way to give to the charitable arm of the company is by participating in the 4Life Fortify program. “We implemented this program in 2010 as a way for distributors to participate in providing essential nutrition directly to children in need,” Kay says. “4Life Fortify is a separate for-profit arm of the company that focuses specifically on fighting childhood malnutrition. Our Fortify product is made up of a great-tasting blend of red beans, lentils, and long grain white rice, plus a complex of the vitamins and minerals that growing kids’ bodies desperately need.” At any time, distributors may purchase Fortify, which is then sent to a hungry child by the company. She says distributors do earn commission volume for the purchase, providing a great opportunity for them to build their 4Life business while helping service the nutritional needs of children around the world.
At the Top of Their Game
Through the power of networking, some 4Life distributors have shared their nutritional supplements with athletes who have experienced noticeable results. The athletes include world hall-of-famers, a discus thrower in Germany, Denver Broncos team member Manny Ramirez and 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria. “Once they become customers, the distributors let us know and we engage in a public relations initiative with the athlete and provide them with products at no charge,” Jolley says. “We do not pay them, but they are invited to join Team 4Life and endorse our products. Once they have joined the Team, we look for ways to incentivize the relationship through opportunities such as speaking at district and national 4Life events.”
A beautiful picture of giving back can be found in the generosity demonstrated by the athletes on Team 4Life as they are involved in community and youth leagues. “Edgar Renteria has actually opened a baseball academy in Colombia,” Jolley says. “He takes kids off the streets, puts them in a stadium in a baseball uniform, and teaches them teamwork and leadership while they play the game.” His commitment to helping these kids has encouraged other Major League Baseball players to join Team 4Life. The foundation recognizes that Renteria’s mission is in perfect alignment with theirs and donates a sizeable annual contribution to the baseball academy. “He doesn’t want pay,” Jolley says. “But he gladly welcomes financial support as he works to save the lives of as many young people as he can in Colombia.”
With so many needs in the world, choosing which ones to address can be a unique challenge. Kay says, “The strategy implemented by our 4Life Service programs is to look in markets where there is strong 4Life distributor leadership and presence. We also have an outside board of reviews that officially signs off on all projects and spending.”
But both Jolley and Kay desire to make it clear that the generosity that gives life to every 4Life Service program was etched into the culture of the company from the moment it was established by David and Bianca Lisonbee. “Their commitment to making life better for as many less-fortunate people as possible is the reason that 100 percent of every dollar donated actually goes to fund one of our projects. All operating costs incurred by our programs are paid by 4Life,” Kay says. “And as the company continues to grow, so will our service to the needs of the world.”