July 01, 2013
Relìv International: Nourishing Our World
by Karyn Reagan
Hungry children worldwide are given hope for the future due to the generosity of Relìv distributors.
She was 2 years old, weighed 8 pounds and was found living in a garbage dump in the mountainous Manggahan area of the Philippines. Gaunt flesh stretched over her fragile bones and life ebbed away from Rosemarie’s tiny, starving body. Her mother struggles to care for seven children in a place where life means fighting for survival and young children often succumb to malnutrition. But for Rosemarie, the outcome has been much different due to the caring hearts of Relìv distributors around the world.
According to Scott Montgomery, Chairman of the Relìv Kalogris Foundation (RKF)—named in honor of Dr. Theodore Kalogris, who created what became the first product of health and wellness company Relìv International—their charitable efforts reach into nine countries with 270 feeding programs. The foundation has, in fact, distributed over $34 million in nutritional support since it was founded in 1995. The program provides a powder that when added to water creates a highly nutritious shake. This power-packed beverage is provided to over 42,000 children per day around the world. “Volunteers at each of the 270 locations distribute the shake to needy children,” Montgomery says. “Sometimes those volunteers are parents who have seen the miraculous results in the health of their own children. Others are people who want to make an impact for good in their world.”
The volunteer efforts also come from the participation of select distributors, who receive an all-expenses-paid trip from Relìv to help with the mission work in some of the poorest areas of the world. It is just one way that Relìv has put forth effort to increase awareness of its charitable undertakings and to spur growth of the foundation.
|Scott Montgomery, Chairman of the Relìv Kalogris Foundation (RKF), visits children who are part of RKF’s feeding program at Ecole Sacre-Coeur de Limonade, a school in Northern Haiti.
Small Beginnings Form a Strong Foundation
The RKF was formed as a result of a couple of Relìv distributors in Australia who wanted to do what they could to help when they learned of some children in the Philippines in dire need of food. The couple approached the leadership of Relìv about providing some relief to the hungry children, and Relìv has been responding ever since.
“For the first 10 years of the foundation we stayed small, but in 2005 we decided to start sharing the stories of success in children’s lives at events and conferences, on Facebook and through videos because we realized that we could and should do more,” Montgomery says. “And the results have been huge. The number of children helped and the follow-up with their results, the organization of the process, and the public awareness have been greatly improved, resulting in increased donations.” He adds that the impact of the foundation’s work has given distributors another reason to talk to new contacts about their business, resulting in growth of the company.
And it has all been accomplished with the Relìv mission statement as its fuel. It reads: “to nourish our world in body, mind and spirit.” The body is nourished through Relìv’s nutritional products, the mind is nourished by allowing for personal growth through a business opportunity, and the spirit has an opportunity for reaching new levels when individuals become involved in the charitable efforts of the foundation. The Relìv logo illustrates the mission, with the circle representing the world and the three flags representing body, mind and spirit.
“The number of children helped and the follow-up with their results, the organization of the process, and the public awareness have been greatly improved, resulting in increased donations.”
—Scott Montgomery, Chairman, Relìv Kalogris Foundation
Distributors who understand the heartbeat of the foundation and want to support it financially are encouraged to do so in several ways. Relìv will automatically deduct a specified amount from a distributor’s paycheck, memorial donations are accepted by RKF in honor of a loved one, and one-time donations are also received. Distributors even have the opportunity to set up their own Network to Nourish events as a way to raise funds, or they can participate in the Rally for the Mission during Relìv’s annual international conference. Montgomery explains that the foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) in all 50 states in order to facilitate accepting donations from anyone who wants to give but may not be a Relìv distributor.
The philosophy of nourishing children with Relìv’s own product instead of raising funds for an outside organization has served the company well. “The donations we receive are used to purchase NOW—an acronym for Nourish Our World—the Relìv product used as a supplement for children both in the United States and around the world,” Montgomery says. “Area coordinators are used to organize the over 270 stations and keep the program running. They then report the results to the RKF.” The foundation also has a small staff of three full-time employees with offices at the Relìv headquarters in Chesterfield, Mo.
|These children, ages 3-5, are part of a feeding program and school held at the RKF House in Cavite, Philippines.||A 250-acre section of Manila, Philippines, that is home to 60,000 impoverished people, was dubbed Welfareville.||The RKF Nutrition Center was recently dedicated in Welfareville and also serves as a school, church and medical facility.|
Progress in the Philippines
Two of the nine countries being impacted by the RKF are the Philippines and Haiti. There are a total of 150 feeding programs in the Philippines and seven of them are in a 250-acre section of 42 blocks in the center of Manila dubbed Welfareville. According to Montgomery, most of the 60,000 inhabitants of this impoverished slice of the city are unemployed or underemployed. If the men work, they are often taking whatever construction job they can find, and women will scrounge a meager subsistence by doing basic tasks such as laundry for others.
Parental irresponsibility is prevalent, and many young children work at any job they can find out of necessity because they are more agile than their parents. They will often gather items they think they can sell from garbage dumps in order to help with basic needs. “The living conditions are terrible. There is overcrowding and filth causing ill health, and most of the community cannot afford medical treatment,” Montgomery says. “Such conditions lend themselves to kids who want to escape their environment in search of a better life. Some end up running away to the inner city, where they discover the challenges are the same or worse.”
Since the arrival of RKF, nearly 200 of the children in Welfareville have been given daily nutrition, which has literally translated into hope for the future for many of the recipients. Montgomery is pleased to say that the area coordinators, Pastor George and Blessie Padilla, have worked hard to bring a sense of acceptance to these individuals. In May of this year, he says he was privileged to be a part of the dedication of a new building within the community that serves as a central location for the seven feeding stations, and as a school, a church and a medical facility.
The new building also provides a place to practice for the Himig Pag-asa Children’s Choir, made up of children who are part of the feeding program and residents of Welfareville. They were chosen to participate at the Paskong Pinoy Choral Competition 2012 and ranked in the top 16 of all children’s choirs in the competition.
Bringing Hope to Haiti
Nearly 10,000 miles and half a world away, volunteers are feeding hungry children growing up in the battered nation of Haiti. Already suffering severe poverty and the challenges that come with it—including a large orphan population—the country was struck with a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 that made a bad situation more difficult. Before the quake, there were over 100,000 orphans. According to Kathy Brawley, RKF Haiti Area Coordinator, after the dust settled, approximately 500,000 children were without parents or a place to call home. Due to a presence in the country already, RKF was able to respond quickly by helping some of the children with nutritional support.
“In the north part of the country a doctor, Emmanuel Mareus, known as Dr. Manno, was already using Relìv’s product to treat various health issues with great success,” Brawley says. “When the body is receiving proper nutrients, the immune system can do its job.” Donations to RKF are used to purchase product, which is then shipped to Dr. Manno. “Haiti is so poor and has such great needs that there are no intense government regulations to overcome when an organization is bringing help to the people of the country,” Brawley explains. She has been working closely with Dr. Manno and others to help the children of Haiti for over 30 years. “I’ve lived there at two different times in my life and have contacts that have assisted in the efficiency of the charitable work that RKF does in that country,” she says.
“Haiti is so poor and has such great needs that there are no intense government regulations to overcome when an organization is bringing help to the people of the country.”
—Kathy Brawley, Haiti Area Coordinator, Relìv Kalogris Foundation
Brawley explains that, in addition to the loss of life, one of the reasons the devastation from the earthquake was felt so intensely by the hundreds of thousands of affected citizens is due to the fact that they generally build their houses one piece at a time. “As they can afford another piece, they build, and it often takes years,” Brawley says. “Therefore, it could take a lifetime to rebuild.”
After the quake, which took place in the southern part of the country, there was a northward migration of orphans desperate for help. “In response to the dire need, RKF set up a special account specifically for donations designated for Haiti,” Brawley says. “Within two months over $100,000 came in.” She explains that they used the money to build a children’s home in the northern town of Cap Haitien. “We formed a partnership with a committee from The Catholic Cathedral of Cape Haitian, since they also wanted to get as many of the orphans as possible off the streets.” Some of the children were as young as 2 years old.
The home, known as the Relìv Kalogris Foundation Home, has been operational since June 2012. “There are three house parents and 38 kids who like to watch out for each other,” Brawley says. “The youngest resident, Okenny, who is 3 years old at the time of this writing, has been at the home since it opened, and is making remarkable progress.” One young lady is 17 years old and lost her parents and all eight of her siblings due to illness. She now finds purpose for her life by helping care for the younger children in the home.
|RKF Children’s Home in Petite-Anse, Haiti.||Scott Montgomery (pictured in green) accompanies Papa Noel and two Relìv distributors (Tony P. and his wife, Joni S.) who won a trip to visit the children in Haiti.||The RKF feeding program provides a nutrition shake for children who attend Ecole Evangelique Baptiste School in Haut-Limbe, Haiti.|
A Life-Changing Gift for Givers and Recipients
And although some of the children have heard of Santa Claus, or Papa Noel as he is known in Haiti, none of them had ever been visited by him until he surprised them last Christmas. He was accompanied by some Relìv distributors who had entered a letter-writing contest offered by Relìv. The grand prize was a trip to Haiti to visit the children who are recipients of Relìv’s charitable efforts, as well as to see the home. Tony P. and Joni S. share the impact that the trip had on them in a video released by the foundation in February. “We didn’t want to go to Haiti but we had to go,” they said. “We knew the experience would touch some places within us that we may not want to touch.”
They are speaking of the abject poverty that they knew they would have to face and then be compelled to deal with, like the garbage in the streets they walked around when visiting various feeding stations.
But as other children received what might be their first-ever Christmas gift from Papa Noel, the smiles on their faces were also described as something the people on that trip will never forget. Jennie Santhuff, Director of the Distributor Service Center, shares the experience of watching a little girl open a gift she had brought to Haiti, and Santhuff’s face is nearly as bright as the child’s. “What she saw in the box wasn’t much compared to our standards, but to her it was everything she ever wanted in life,” she says. “These are real kids and their lives are tremendously better because of the foundation.”
The distributors on that trip say they now feel that it is their duty to tell as many people as possible about the difference in the lives of the children who are receiving Relìv’s nutrients. “We could see the difference,” Joni S. says. “No, we didn’t want to go face that hardship, but we now know the importance of every dollar that comes in to save a child. We must get the word out.”
According to Brawley, there are 48 sites in Haiti that use the NOW for Kids product. They consist of clinics, orphanages and approximately 40 schools. Kids often arrive at school having had no breakfast, causing them to be lethargic and unable to learn well. “I could go on and on about the teachers who report that those same kids who had no energy before Relìv are now filled with energy and look healthier,” Brawley says. “Over 11,000 children receive NOW at those 40 schools every day in Haiti.”
The RKF leadership’s heart for hungry children around the globe can be heard in their words. “Our No. 1 goal for the future of RKF is to tell the stories of the children whose lives have been saved in order to raise more funds to provide necessary nutrition to more starving children,” Montgomery says. “We have increased donations from $200,000 to $1 million in seven years, and we are now working toward $2 million annually to double the number of kids we can save. The hardest thing for the volunteers to do is to look into the eyes of a hungry child and tell him there is not enough for him.”