I’m John M. Simmons and this charity is my passion. Ele Lembra means He Remembers, in Portuguese, a language I was learning to speak during the first time in my life that I witnessed abject poverty.
My wife and I have adopted several children from orphanages in Russia, whose orphanages are similar to the same institutions in other former Soviet states. As Amy and I watched the children in the orphanages who were adopted by so many different families, our hearts were happy for their good fortune and the opportunities that awaited them.
But my heart still felt empty for those we were forced to leave behind. They wanted to be doctors and professional sports celebrities. They wanted good jobs and families. They never considered the possibility that those things might not happen. Childhood is funny that way. What a gift; an assurance that you can succeed in spite of all odds!
As the children age, reality takes its toll. More and more of these children without parents realize their hopeless circumstances and give up trying. Only one in ten of the youth who age out of orphanages in former Soviet states gets a job and contributes to society.
My family and I wanted to change those grim statistics. In early 2012 I approached the financial people at our family company, White Knight, and asked them to budget for a pilot program to assist orphans in the transition from an orphanage to higher education. They provided me with a budget and we went to work. The Republic of Georgia was open to a program to assist children aging out of orphanages and we started Program Chance.
2012 was an off year in the industries that our company serves and the financial people here told me that our program would need to wait. I refused. I talked with my brother, Tom, and his wife, Michelle, about the possibility of selling a boat that we owned together, to keep Program Chance moving forward. I told them that I was also selling my Corvette for the same purpose. Tom and Michelle agreed wholeheartedly. I sold my Corvette and we moved forward. A couple of weeks later Tom presented me with a check from the sale of his own Corvette to put in to assist Program Chance.
That was the beginning of Ele Lembra and our desire to help those youth who age out of the system. This is not a career for me, my friends, or family members. This charity is where we spend money, not where we make it. Rest assured that contributions you make are going to help children, not to support me or my family. I intend to “give ‘til it hurts” with Ele Lembra. I encourage you to do the same.
Please help us to assist youth who age out of orphanages. Make a donation now. Ele Lembra is a 501c3 public charity. Donations to Ele Lembra are tax deductible with the United States Internal Revenue Service.