About Marilyn Gardner Milton
Marilyn Gardner Milton MA is a woman who has her fingers in many different pies in life. One of her greatest passions is the volunteering and advocating for both children in need as well as dogs. She helped to create the Ebenezer Foundation which works with children in need in Zambia. With the motto “A Place to Call Home and Someone to Call Mother”, the Ebenezer Foundation is dedicated to providing education, healthcare, and housing for orphans in Zambia. This position allows Marilyn to bring her years of experience in primary education and distance learning to the organization, providing them with advice and support as to how best educate the children.
Marilyn Garner Milton | Volunteering & Administrative Experience
The Ebenezer Foundation was created to support the work of the Ebenezer Child Care Trust, an organization that originally focused on feeding the orphans in Zambian cities a few times a week. However, as time passed the creators realized that there was more they could do to help the children in need. They partnered with the Cavalry Church in Livingstone and began renting houses so that they could offer a stable environment and family-like situation for the orphans. The Foundation currently rents 4 houses and 1 office building where they provide housing and house parents for the orphans as well as education and medical facilities for both orphans and all children in the community. Marilyn Gardner Milton MA was hired to join the Board of Directors so that she could bring her expertise in education and distance learning to the organization.
While Marilyn Gardner Milton MA has focused most of her volunteering efforts on children in need, she has also always been an advocate for dogs. Throughout her entire life, Marilyn has lived with dogs. As a child she was raised in a household that always had at least one dog in it and she tried to maintain that number throughout all periods in her life. And throughout all of her experiences with educating and administrating, her dogs were always there with her. The more she worked in high-intensity situations, the more Marilyn realized that her dog was useful for both companionship as well as a natural stress reliever. While Marilyn’s life is taken up mostly by her work and her family, she has never forgotten about her love for dogs and continues to live with one to this very day. Due to her experiences, she is fully aware of the therapeutic effects that dogs can have on people in stressful and taxing situations.
The Ebenezer Foundation is a United States-based 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization which provides support to the Ebenezer Child Care Trust in Zambia, Africa. This organization serves impoverished and orphaned children living in Livingstone through the assistance of donor contributions. Its mission not only carries out the work of saving, raising, and educating children, but also works to provide the children the opportunity to live a better and more productive life. The foundation serves the community by supporting and operating an orphanage, primary school, and farm.
Volunteers all over the world comprise the Ebenezer Foundation; they provide funding and also volunteer their time. While some volunteers are already based in Africa, many travel to Zambia to provide service and to cultivate relationships with the volunteers and children in Livingstone.
Texas A&M University student, Ashley Hrenak, recently joined the organization’s cause and traveled to Zambia to volunteer with the Ebenezer Child Care Trust.
When describing her visit Ashley shared the impact of her experience: “This past July, I traveled over 24 hours to a small school called Ebenezer. I didn’t have the slightest clue what to expect upon arrival, though there would have been no way to prepare my heart for all of the love, joy, singing, dancing, beauty, and smiles that would greet me with open arms. Ebenezer has completely changed my life. I came to Livingstone, Zambia knowing no one and somehow left with over 400 beautiful, compassionate, smart, humble, God loving friends.”
“These kids have given me far more than I could have ever given them. They have touched my heart and taught me more than 14 years of school could have ever taught me. God has blessed me in the most beautiful way possible and I thank Him, with all my heart, for showing me this oasis of love. I am in love with Ebenezer and cannot wait to return.” She concludes fondly, “Zikomo Ebenezer.”
Foundation volunteers support all of the U.S-based Ebenezer Foundation’s administrative costs. As a result, the organization takes pride in its ability to pledge all of its donations to the Ebenezer Child Care Trust.
Supporting volunteerism can take many forms. There are numerous critical roles a Board Member can assume if volunteering on a Foundation Board. These can range from writing thank you letters to donors and organizing and overseeing funding campaigns to visiting the Foundation’s site to ensure funding is reaching and impacting the directed service and need. As a Board Member of the Ebenezer Foundation, I was extremely proud of our Board Members Erin and Bob Botsford who recently visited our orphans and school children in Zambia. In connection with their visit, they raised more than $60,000 for the children and we thank those who made it possible.
They described their visit as follows.
“The children were so happy to see us and remembered us from our time there two years ago. It was then that their “mum,” Founder Ranji Chara had died and we just happened to be there at that time. At that time we had the chance to meet with the children to assure them, even though the woman who rescued them from the streets in 2000 had died, our commitment to them has not. Trust me….they remembered us. Imagine from their perspective: They had already lost both parents – now the woman who had taken them off the streets was dead!”
“Two years later, the orphanage looks AMAZING – both the girls’ house and the boys’ house actually have small kitchens in them – a huge improvement from two years ago. They are building a new school – good thing because the current one that teaches 450 children in two shifts has basic cardboard walls covered in plaster. As we visited each classroom, we could hear what was going on in every other classroom. So, a new school building is definitely warranted and in the works. We wanted to report to you that your money was able to help them meet their emergency needs and we authorized the farm manager to make some much-needed improvements, especially to the chicken coop. The farm manager reported, and it was confirmed, that if they get these improvements made, a local hotel (the Avani hotel) has agreed to buy chickens from our farm! We really want this as a first step in helping Ebenezer to become more financially sustainable. In addition, the school bus is totally dilapidated (we know – because we rode in it) so we are currently trying to figure out the best way to give the most bang for our buck in terms of buying a new(er) school bus for the children. We have set aside some of the money donated by you to provide safe transportation for the orphans to and from the school.”
The donations we received during the campaign was a literally a life-saver and a much-needed boost to the children and staff of Ebenezer. While this is a small microcosm of the need in Zambia (they have 1.4 million orphans), always remember your donation made a difference to not one, but 450 children in Zambia. On behalf of each child, we wish to say: “Thank You!”
The Ebenezer Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization created to provide financial support to the Ebenezer Child Care Trust in Zambia, Africa. The Trust is dedicated to saving, raising, and educating impoverished and orphaned children living in the city of Livingstone.
100% of your donation goes directly to the children of the Ebenezer Child Care Trust in Zambia. All administrative costs of the U.S. Ebenezer Foundation are borne by our volunteers.
Although almost every state requires students to take a civics class in order to graduate high school, studies reveal that there’s been a steady decline in youth volunteerism. In 2005, about 28 percent of high school students were regularly performing some form of community service; in 2015, the number had fallen to 25 percent. The number who reportedly donate to charity also bottomed out at roughly the same percentage, about a decade ago. So what factors might be responsible for the decline?
To begin with, the numbers might be misleading. It’s true that 41 states maintain a civics requirement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the students have to log community service hours in order to earn their diploma. In fact, Maryland is the only state to have that mandate, although individual rules could vary depending on the district. Interestingly, students who are required to perform community service in their academic careers tend to leave off the practice once they become adults, suggesting that forced civic duty might not be the best path to lifelong commitment.
Another possible factor could be the fight-or-flight response that sets in when a disaster–such as a school shooting or a hurricane–occurs. These events tend to trigger an immediate response from young people–the protests that took place following the Parkland tragedy, for example. The problem is, they often don’t lead to long-term engagement from the participants once things settle down again. In order to effect change, the issues need to be addressed consistently and frequently, and even then, any progress can be difficult to detect. This slow pace isn’t likely to excite today’s teenagers, who have been trained to expect instant gratification in most other aspects of their lives.
With that being said, is there anything that can be done to re-engage the youth of the nation on the subject of social issues? One solution might be to shift the focus of the community service requirements to take in the big picture. When students are told that they “have” to do something, or else they won’t graduate, they’ll do it without necessarily thinking about the cause and effect of the mandate. If educators put more emphasis on why the services are necessary, and the changes that might be brought about as a result, students would be more likely to sit up and pay attention.