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Karen Gordon
The most important thing in the life of a child is a person. Not a toy. Not a building. We can give the children that.
Karen Gordon
Founder
Whole Child International
Whole Child
International
When Karen Gordon walks into a room, it is very evident that this statuesque beauty was a former fashion model; however, as you listen to her describe her crusade on behalf of children, you begin to understand that Karen's beauty is much more than skin deep.
What started with a parenting class in 1998 has eventually led to Karen's nonprofit charity-a foundation that is dramatically improving the quality of life for the world's abandoned children. As Karen listened in her parenting classes, she was surprised to learn that its principles were based on child-rearing practices developed at the Pikler Institute-an orphanage in Hungary. She became fascinated with the philosophy and felt drawn to the cause; however, it wasn't until 2003 that a chain of circumstances would have her on a plane to Budapest.
It was during that same year that she separated from her movie/TV producer husband. As her two girls enjoyed parenting time with their dad, Karen had an opportunity to travel to Hungary and see the orphanage firsthand. She was intrigued by Dr. Pikler's philosophy that mimicked the care and setting of a home-a very different concept from most orphanages. These caregivers nurtured the same children, formed bonds in small familial-type groups, and communicated their loving care by respecting the child as an active individual, free to move safely within their environment. Here the orphans thrived and were able to grow up and contribute to society instead of being a detriment.
Karen's enthusiasm followed her all the way back to the states where she planned to use the Pikler Institute as a model for orphanages throughout the world. Almost immediately upon her return, she found that her humanitarian undertaking had made her a bit of a pariah. The stigma connected with orphanages had the big global organizations refusing to help. Although she made it clear that she would be footing the bill, the very institutions committed to help disadvantaged children were hamstrung by their own policies against orphanages. Finally, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh's Office of Child Development, WestEd's Center for Child and Family Studies, and the University of California, Davis Center for Excellence in Child Development, she was able to found Whole Child International.
By implementing the most advanced childcare research in orphanages, Whole Child is able to work within the existing institutions. The program trains caregivers, as well as administrative personnel, in four essential, life-changing principles for providing quality care: (1) responsive caregiving to meet the emotional needs of a child, (2) continuous primary care so that each child can form an attachment, (3) organized children in small groups that will build and sustain loving relationships between children, caregivers, and peers, and (4) freedom to explore and learn from their natural environments. This simple and cost-effective program moves orphanages toward best practices to ensure that these children have a chance to grow up happy and healthy rather than becoming a burden on society.
Whole Child International's success has brought attention from all over the world and has piqued the interest of esteemed leaders such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This noteworthy charity has also caught the attention of the media and has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Glamour, and Reader's Digest: Canada with TV appearances on King 5 (NBC affiliate in Seattle, Washington) and Good Morning America.
Karen admits that she would love for all children to live in a home. But someone needs to deal with the existing problem. That "someone" is Karen, Whole Child International, and now the Earth Stewardship Foundation.
By contributing to the Earth Stewardship Foundation, your donations will be matched by Tom Mower Sr. and the overhead costs are being covered by SISEL. Have your charitable contributions go further, and donate to the Earth Stewardship Foundation today!