WomenAEs Friendship Grows into Seeds of Grace

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

WomenAEs Friendship Grows into Seeds of Grace


Never underestimate the power of friendship.

In a little more than three years, friendship has helped build a home for AIDS orphans and two libraries along with a sense of community and a feeling of hope in two Kenyan communities.

Before all that other stuff could be built, Naperville moms Julie Utter and Annette Swanson first built a friendship with two Kenyan sisters. The relationship prompted the local women to lead a church mission group to Maua, Kenya.

Their firsthand experience with both the despair and compassion of the Kenyans prompted the women to launch Seeds of Grace. Since 2006, the group has raised $80,000 for three organizations working in Kenya. Seeds of GraceAEs second annual Party with a Purpose fundraiser is Saturday, Feb. 7.

Utter, who serves as co-executive director, explains Seeds of GraceAEs partnership with two Kenyan communities.

Q. What is your mission?

A. The mission of Seeds of Grace is to empower families with vulnerable children and orphans in Kenya with food, shelter and education.

Q. How do you work toward accomplishing that goal?

A. Seeds of Grace partners with three organizations in Kenya that work directly to aid, restore and sustain the lives of vulnerable children and orphans in their communities. This partnership includes fundraising for their programs and building awareness to inspire people worldwide to take action and assist the people in these areas.

We offer presentations about our organization to schools, clubs, church groups and businesses. Our Web site, seedsofgracesite.org has generated global awareness and support from the British Army and family foundations.

We sell authentic Kenyan jewelry made by women supported by the organization PEMA. These women suffer from HIV/AIDS. The PEMA organization supports them by providing counseling, nutrition, shelter and education assistance for their children.

Seeds of Grace has achieved support through individual donations, grants, newsletter drives and the annual Party with a Purpose. We hope to expand support with additional grants and corporate sponsorships.

Q. Whom do you serve?

A. We serve families with vulnerable children and orphans who live in the communities of Meru and Maua, Kenya.

Q. When and why did Seeds of Grace start? How has it grown?

A. This organization was born out of an amazing friendship between two Naperville moms and two Kenyan sisters! Florence Mubichi came to the U.S. from Kenya in 2001 to work on a masterAEs degree in nursing administration at Benedictine University. While she was here, she befriended Annette Swanson and I through Grace United Methodist Church. Through her friendship, we learned much about her community in Kenya and the work accomplished at the Maua Methodist Hospital. …

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