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.
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.
After coming across a list of the greatest graduation speeches of all time the other month, I felt inspired and reflective. So far, I’ve written about Joyce DiDonato’s four truths and Ellen DeGeneres‘s inspiring story of success. This month, I’m writing about Princeton University’s 2010 commencement speech by Jeff Bezos.
When Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, was young, he spent his summers with his grandparents. Every few years, they would travel around the United States and Canada with their caravan club.
Bezos loved and worshiped his grandparents. He vividly remembers on of their trips; his grandfather was driving, his grandmother was in the passenger seat smoking cigarettes, and he was in the back with nothing to do but make estimates and do minor arithmetic, figuring out useless statistics.
One of the days, he told his grandmother that at two minutes per puff of her cigarettes, she had taken nine years off her life. He expected to be applauded for his cleverness and advanced arithmetic skills, but instead, his grandmother burst into tears. His grandfather pulled over the caravan and taught him a valuable life lesson that is much harder to be kind than clever.
What he talks to the class of 2010 about is that there is a difference between gifts and choices. Being clever is a gift but being kind is a choice. Gifts are easy, but choices are hard. The graduates in front of him possessed many gifts. The gift of being smart is something they all possess. How you use these gifts is what will define you.
At 30 years of age, and newly wed, he told his wife, McKenzie, that he was going to quit his job to begin a start-up that had no promise of working out. Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to be an inventor; McKenzie wanted him to follow his passion. He knew he had to give it a shot because he would never regret trying and failing but would be haunted if he decided to never try at all.
There are many questions Bezos asks, and they are incredibly reflective.
“How will you use your gifts?”
“What choices will you make?”
“Will inertia be your guide or will you follow your passions?”
“Will you follow Dogma or will you be original?”
“Will you choose a life of ease or a life of service an adventure?”
“Will you wilt under criticism or will you follow your convictions?”
“Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong or will you apologize?”
“Will you guard your heart against rejection or will you act when you fall in love?”
“Will you play it safe or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?”
“When it’s tough, will you give up or will you be relentless?”
“Will you be a cynic or will you be a builder?”
“Will you be clever at the expense of others or will you be kind?”
Bezo ends his speech by noting that when you’re 80-years-old and reflecting on your life, the most meaningful story will be what choices you have made and the impact that they had. Afterall, we are what our choices make us.