ENDEAVOR CHILDREN’S SERVICES is a 501(c)3 non-profit private foundation, working to change the world, one child at a time.

Launched in 2011 , Endeavor brings hope and opportunity to orphans and vulnerable children around the world, guided by a community of professionals in the fields of health, nutrition, education, law, psychology, and art who share a dedication to improving the lives of children.

Endeavor develops programs that are innovative in the field of children’s services, while providing food to hungry children, access to health care and education. Endeavor’s main focus is the I Am Who program – building confidence, hope and self esteem in children with broken hearts. All of Endeavor’s board, staff and expert advisors volunteer their time and expertise to improve the lives of children in need.

Executive Director – Janice Neilson

The founding executive director of Endeavor Children’s Services, Janice Secord Neilson, draws upon decades of experience in international child welfare services. As creator and executive director of a program in China sponsored by the Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud (www.fxb.org ) in partnership with UNICEF and the Chinese Women’s Federation, Janice introduced a unique pilot project to demonstrate that strategic community-based intervention can profoundly improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children and the families who care for them. The four-year FXB China project’s outcomes are commended in the UNICEF Best Practices publication “Responding to Children, Young People and AIDS”. During this project, Janice wrote and published I AM WHO, a book of expressive therapies that has been shown significantly to improve the psycho-social well being of children in trauma.

Prior to undertaking the FXB China project, Janice was the executive director and president of the World Association for Children and Parents (www.wacap.org), one of the largest adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Under Janice’s leadership, WACAP provided health care, education and nutrition to more than 200,000 children and placed nearly 10,000 children in adoptive families. Janice created programs in the US, China, Russia, Romania, India, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Colombia and Ecuador, including the Peony Project in Henan, China, which serves children with disabilities. As Bill Gates, Sr., told the media, “WACAP has been a shining light in the lives of thousands of children with special needs.”

Janice has served on the board of the Joint Council of International Children’s Services (Washington, DC), and on the Washington State Governor’s task force on children’s issues; advised the US Congressional Coalition on Adoption and the Evan B. Donaldson Institute (New York); been named an “Angel in Adoption” by the U.S. Congress and nominated for the “World Citizen Award” of the World Affairs Council. She has received awards honoring her work from the Bureau of Civil Affairs (People’s Republic of China), the Department of Public Welfare (Thailand), The Child Welfare League of the Philippines (Philippines) and Holt Children’s Services (Korea).

For a further look at Janice’s work, the following is an excerpt from an article published in the Seattle Times.

Everyone talks about the fire. The day in October 1997 when Janice Neilson came home from China to find the Lacey home in which she and her husband, Scott, had raised five children, in ashes.Steam rose from the remnants of their furniture, clothes, books and photographs. Nothing stood but the earthquake wall they had installed a few years before. Friends and neighbors came to stand with the couple, muttering condolences. Time and again, Neilson turned their concern around: “How are you?” she asked. The blessing of Janice Neilson’s life may be that losing so much matters so little to her. For she has seen the worst of this world: The way it leaves newborns, four in a basket, for sale on the street. The way it rejects them because of a cleft palate or a club foot. The way a healthy newborn girl is, in some countries, a grave disappointment. And how some infants are never held, save to be set in a crib in a crowded orphanage.

But Neilson has also witnessed hundreds of small miracles:The deaf orphan adopted by a parent who teaches sign language. A child with a rare skin condition, worsened by the heat of his native India, adopted by a father in Alaska who has the same malady. Children stranded by cerebral palsy and poverty spirited from their homes to be bused to a school and clinic.

For 20 years, Neilson traversed those two worlds as executive director of the World Association for Children & Parents (WACAP). “A fire is not a tragedy,” Neilson said. “A tragedy is a human life spent suffering, or an older child who is put up for adoption. Think of what they have lost.” In Neilson’s two decades at WACAP, the Renton-based adoption agency has placed some 8,000 children from 10 countries in homes across the United States. Nearly half are children with special needs. WACAP’s child-assistance programs provide health care, education and nutrition to 5,000 orphaned and impoverished children each month. Neilson estimates the organization has reached 160,000 kids during her tenure.

Before first entering China in 1990, Neilson spent 18 months in intense study of Chinese culture, economics, governmental structure and protocol, and pored over UNICEF statistics. Then she set to securing appointments with government officials through proper channels. It sometimes took months, she said, “to obtain the right door of entry.” Once in, though, Neilson established key common ground: love for a child. “It can be tedious and painstaking, but in the end, these doors open,” she said.

The group’s reach went international in April 1975, with the close of America’s military involvement in Vietnam. South Vietnam was under assault by North Vietnamese troops. In a rescue dubbed “Operation Babylift,” some 3,000 infants and children were taken from orphanages — some without shoes or diapers — and airlifted out with $2 million in U.S. aid. The WACAP parents set up camp at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to help process the children into the country.

(Copyright 2003 Seattle Times)

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