Americas Children’s History
On March 31, 1974, our ministry to children was begun by Paul Weiss and his friends in Santa Barbara, California, when they discovered 43 little girls living in unbelievable poverty in an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. Their lack of food and schooling was the inspiration for our first 30 years of trying to make the world, especially in the Americas, a better place for children.
For many years, Paul Weiss traveled South America investigating one of the main reasons the lives of hundreds of millions of the planet’s children and their families are so devastated. Because the abuse and neglect is so great, the most basic levels of nutrition and education are impossible to achieve. He took on the exploitation of children by tobacco companies seeing it as a major assault on the well-being of children and their families throughout the Americas.
In 2004, long time volunteer and board member Dave Brisbin took the reins as Director. Our nonprofit, always struggling, always underfunded, survived the economic struggles of the next 10 years under Dave’s inspired leadership.
Early Events to Gather Resources & Raise Funds
Tortilla Marathon. 1,000 walkers walked 13 times in 180-mile treks from Santa Barbara to Tijuana, raising over a half million dollars for nutrition and education. Probably the first multi-day athletic fundraiser in the U.S. Our first marathon was in June, 1976.
Church Food Drives. For many years, a small number of compassionate faith communities have gathered one ton of food each year, then delivered it to our children’s dining rooms in Tijuana.
Supermarket Saturdays. Volunteers stood outside Southern California supermarkets handing out leaflets to shoppers, telling them children were hungry and asking them to buy one item of food for kids. On one great day in Santa Barbara, 21 markets were covered, bringing in tons of food and cash!
Reverse Mission, the work of justice, mobilizes the church and exposes it to extreme poverty and its clear, first-hand evidence of injustice. The goal is to ignite the passions needed to address its causes.
One example of this is Americas Children’s Rancho Justicia. 20,000 volunteers, mostly students, spent weekends at our Mexican Border facility, to carry out our work with children in Tijuana, meet their brothers and sisters, and question why children are hungry, why do so many families live in such abject poverty?
As reverse missionaries, we are on a mission to educate and fan the flame of passion in volunteers to ask, Why are children poor, hungry, exploited and neglected? And provide the means and opportunity for those volunteers to take action and make a difference!
The Power of Prayer
Since our earliest days, we’ve counted on God to inspire, guide and protect our efforts. And have we been blessed! We pray that our efforts will continue to deserve your support and that, together, we may create the world God is calling us to create.
Fundraising/administrative costs below 5% for 40 years! From the very first day we were committed to the idea that we were more in need of volunteers and love than money. As a result, we found the volunteers and we found unique ways of saving money and eliminating expenses. Americas Children is recognized every year by Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog, for its outstanding management of donor contributions.
Our Name. If you’ve been wondering … in 1974 our ministry was called Los Niños. Later, we were Children of The Americas. In 2010, in an effort to create a name that would be more easily recognized but still make it clear that we wanted to serve all children in all of the Americas, we became Americas Children.
A New Direction for 2017…
As we embark on 2017, the ministry of America’s Children has transitioned from David Brisbin to new leaders, Keith and Maya Durkin, and to a new Board of Directors (Read More), who remain committed to providing nutrition and discipleship and helping volunteers experience, first-hand, the poverty of their brothers and sisters. Many of the continuing works of mercy are as follows:
- Currently feeding up to 1000 children daily in 5 dining rooms in Tijuana, Mexico, before they arrive at school
- Construction and repair of dining rooms, schools, child care centers including the building of a 500-student school in the Tijuana garbage dump
- Feeding hundreds of garbage dump families (mostly kids), scavenging for a livelihood in the Tijuana garbage dump
- Orphanage visits and major support to a half-dozen Tijuana orphanages
- Rainbow Backpacks (filled with enough school supplies for 1 year) to children in Mexico & U.S.
- Tons of food, medicine, clothing to the poor of Tijuana over many years
- Christmas Toy Caravans and Food Trucks to Tijuana involving thousands of children every year