Many of your know that Team Orphans raises money for adoption grants that are given to families adopting special needs orphans. Some of you also know that Team Orphans officially launched in February 2012 and has raised over $57,000 to date. But you may not know the hero behind Team Orphans. Let me introduce her. Her name is Candace Abel.
Team Orphans is a fundraising campaign for Brittany’s Hope Foundation, located in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania and started by Candace Abel. Brittany was the first of 12 children adopted by Candace’s family, along with their three biological children. Brittany was killed in an icy car crash after college. The funeral director was so moved that he gave the family a check to use ‘to honor Brittany’. Candace put those funds aside. A year later after giving much thought to what she wanted to do, she decided to honor Brittany by carrying out her daughter’s dream “where all children know the peace and love only a family can provide”. In January 2000, Brittany’s Hope was launched. The check from the funeral director, along with other seed money from the community, friends and family was used to start the foundation. Candace worked alone out of her home for the first 5 years, along with a small staff of volunteers and Board Members, before moving the foundation to its current location with five employees. In 2011 she retired and is caring for her youngest children who have medical and special needs, along with keeping up with the busy lives of her teen aged children! Candace’s daughter, Mai-Lynn has taken over as Executive Director, but Candace is still very much the inspiration and spirit behind Brittany’s Hope.
Brittany’s Hope works in two different areas- helping children with adoption grants through 7 different agencies AND helping the children in orphanages who will never be able to leave. While 100% of the money raised by Team Orphans goes to the child adoption grants, much more money raised by Brittany’s Hope goes to orphanage support. In 2002, Candace was in Vietnam visiting a number of orphanages. She noticed one child who was missing a finger, wrapped in fresh bandages. When inquiring as to the nature of the injury, she learned that the infant had ‘caught her finger’ in the dilapidated ‘crib’ which was more of a basket. “Brittany’s Cribs” was born on the spot and Candace purchased new, safe cribs for the children before leaving the country. This was the beginning of the humanitarian ‘arm’ of the foundation which now includes orphanage support, child sponsorship programs, nutrition and education programs for orphans.
As the director of Team Orphans, I am blessed to be able to represent Brittany’s Hope. I am in awe of Candace and all that she has done and continues to do for “the least of these”. She is my hero, and I can’t wait to see her crown one day in heaven full of jewels.