I live in Valdosta, GA, and teach journalism/English at Lowndes High School. I went to the Ukraine in the summer of 2005.
I taught the high school class at Public School #10 in Dzerzhinsk for a week. Then I stayed another week to help visit the orphanages. I got to see most of the ones His Kids Too! helps. We passed out many bananas and cookies which gave me the idea of Going Bananas for Orphans. Lowndes High School raised almost $2,000 this Fall to provide seasonal fruit to as many orphanages as possible. They will collect again in March.
I was certainly touched by the conditions andvchildren. I could tell you stories of walking with Oleg, a toddler badly burned, or holding hands with a malnutritioned, barely clothed teenager before we entered Torez who looked longingly at the food in the market.
I have known the Fillmons for almost 20 years and taught Dallas (their son) as a kindergarten student during Sunday school. I also kept in touch with Bill Wharton and have helped send money and clothes to the Ukraine. It is very faith building to see how God has provided for the orphans and the people of Ukraine. God continues to open doors and opportunities to this area. Jesus said pure and undefiled religion is helping widows and orphans. This is a wonderful opportunity to be like Jesus. You can help in so many ways.
" We must become the change we want to see in the world." Mahatma Ghandi
I met Teresa while sitting in the Kiev International Airport in late March 2004. I had just spent a week teaching a class in the Kiev Business School. Within five minutes, I was intrigued by her passion and her commitment to this noble cause, and I have been involved with the organization since.
Since that time, I have been involved in various activities here in Birmingham aimed at raising awareness, money, and resources for HKT. First, we had Teresa come to Samford University in Fall 2004 to speak to a group of about 150 students about her ministry. This same semester, the student leadership honorary Omicron Delta Kappa raised money for the organization via card sales throughout the university, resulting in card sales of about $2500 and increased awareness of the HKT mission. (These cards are now sold on the HKT website, and feature lovely artwork of Ukrainian orphans.)
The following spring (2005), I initiated a shoe drive at my church, Independent Presbyterian Church (PC-USA). This effort is ongoing, and so far has resulted in several hundred pounds of shoes. We hope to provide care packets for orphans in the next few months through a similar effort, and we are bringing Teresa to speak to our congregation on April 23, 2006. Finally, a private foundation begun by church members (the IPC Foundation) granted $5000 to HKT for the coming fiscal year. I will work with Teresa to apply for additional funding in the coming year. I hope this is just the beginning of a productive relationship between HKT and our congregation.
While these efforts are small, they’re a start! I am committed to this cause and to Teresa, and intend to remain involved in this ministry as long as I can help.
Finally, I will say that my involvement with Teresa and this organization has served to strengthen my faith, particularly in two respects. First, I believe that we are surrounded by opportunities to exercise our faith and make a difference in the lives of others, but we must be receptive to these opportunities when they occur. Who would have thought that a casual airport conversation would begin such a meaningful experience for me?! Second, I believe our world needs more “Christian faith in action,” and I am grateful for this opportunity to exercise my faith through involvement with His Kids Too. A favorite quote of mine comes from Mahatma Gandhi – “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” I believe that Teresa Fillmon and the His Kids Too ministry illustrate this notion admirably.
Trips of a Lifetime
"Walter Steely has a heart for helping others and he is spending his life doing just that.
At 68, Steely has spent most of his life in agriculture, now he finds most of his time is spent thinking about traveling to the Ukraine to help children in the eastern European country……
His Kids Too! seeks to awaken desires of heart
August 14, 2008
"The His Kids Too! Summer Bible Camp held in Dzerzhinsk, Ukraine, June 23-28 was a smashing success. More than 41 volunteers came from all over the U.S. and Ukraine to serve orphans and local children.
The theme for the camp was based on Psalm 37: 3-4 which states "God will give you the desires of your heart when you seek Him."…
More than 1,000 orphans in Ukraine received a very special surprise this winter as local charity His Kids Too! delivered Christmas gifts and gave holiday parties to nine orphanages. Tallahassean Rich Fillmon , co-founder of His Kids Too!, along with two volunteers from Jacksonville, Texas …..
These photos were all taken Jan. 2008, the photographer failed to change the 'date' on his camera~~
January 13, 2008
ENCINITAS – Nearly her entire head was swathed in bandages from her sixth surgery in 2½ years, but a drowsy Natasha Ivanishcheva was upbeat.
She was born in the Ukraine with Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic birth defect that distorted her skull, ear and face. She was abandoned by her parents and treated like a freak when she ventured out in public.
The 18-year-old was among more than 100 disadvantaged children and young adults receiving free reconstructive surgery and related medical services at a weekend event organized by the nonprofit Fresh Start Surgical Gifts in Carlsbad…
Raa students help Ukrainians
The donations and check presented to His Kids, Too!,
December 7, 2007, by Raa Middle school, Tallahassee, FL
Over the past two and a half weeks, students in Jane Walker's sixth-grade geography classes at Raa Middle School collected paper clips, Fun Station tokens, Canadian coins and a button. They also raised $1,270 and 20 boxes of clothes and toiletries…..http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007712080353
A student is interviewed by the local His Kids, Too! director, Teresa Fillmon with
news reporter, from the Tallahassee teacher, Jane Walker
His Kids reaches out to orphans
In October, I had the privilege of joining His Kids Too!, a Tallahassee-based ministry, for 16 days of life-changing ministry in the Ukraine. From the moment we arrived, we were working hard to help the hurt and needy orphans.…read more…(type in manually, this link will not work, Northeast Chronicle, December 6, 2007) www.tallahassee.com/chronicle
June and July were busy months for Tallahassee based charity, His Kids, Too! Arriving in Dzerzhinsk Ukraine on the 27th of June, we were busy making the final preparations for the summer Bible camp. Our daily average was 125 children, and 38 team members from the U. S. and throughout Ukraine. The final week, July 9-13 was spent delivering thousands of lbs. of humanitarian aid throughout the Donetsk region to over 5000 orphan children.
The trip can probably be best summed up by eighteen year old, Nancy Cooper a team member from Birmingham AL:
Ukraine Trip 2007
By: Nancy Cooper
When our group left for Ukraine a few weeks ago, I was excited and nervous about the two weeks ahead of me. The nine of us were headed to Dzerzhinsk, a small town in rural Ukraine, to help with a community Bible school and to distribute humanitarian aid. Though I'm not the most well-traveled teenager, I thought I had prepared myself, having studied travel guides, practiced reading the Ukrainian alphabet, and packed every travel-sized toiletry know to man. None of this, however, prepared me for the emotional and spiritual journey ahead. By the time the Bible school began on Monday morning, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and worried about what I'd gotten myself into. I didn't know how I could relate with the children when I couldn't even talk with them. My worries were quickly relieved, though, by the children's warm smiles and anxious laughter. As my class sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children," both in Russian and in English, it struck me that though language is not universal, God's love is. I didn't have to read the Russian Bible to my class to minister to the children.
Simply holding hands, singing songs, and making crafts with them was enough to show that we cared. Each of us showed God's love in some way that week: playing basketball, teaching a game, or leading a silly song. I'm so grateful to our church and His Kids, Too! for the opportunity to have been able to reach out to the children of Dzerzhinsk in this memorable way.
Special Feature story on International Adoption
The Christian Chronicle
'God put us together'