Meet Our Ambassadors
In November of 2019, we announced the upcoming launch of Ambassadors for Kids at TRS. We set a launch date for January of 2020, and we quickly had ten people jump on board. The goal of Ambassadors for Kids at TRS is to serve The Raining Season by sharing our mission and our amazing kids. Our Ambassadors said yes to introducing two new sponsors to The Raining Season each month.
Sponsorship funds are the primary way we provide for the children and keep The Covering open. Each child requires multiple sponsors to continue to cover their basic needs. When our Executive Director, Francis Pyle, began brainstorming how to continue developing our sponsorship program, he saw the power in simply inviting others to share an organization that they care deeply about. So many people have been impacted by our amazing kids, whether through traveling or sponsorship. Why not focus on sharing those stories and inviting others to link arms with us? With that, Ambassadors for Kids at TRS quickly became a reality. We did the math and discovered how powerful our Ambassador program could be. These sponsors will help to provide financially for our kids, but we also see the power in creating a sponsorship program that values the relationship between the child and the sponsor. Our kids will continue to know that people love and care about them.
Our Ambassadors for Kids at TRS will potentially connect 240 new individuals or families that will impact the future of our children. It’s because of sponsors like YOU that our kids continue to grow and flourish. It is because of sponsors like YOU that our kids have an apartment and center to call home; a warm and dry bed to sleep in every night. It is because of sponsors like YOU that our kids received three meals every day and a top-notch education. Thanks to sponsors like YOU and our Ambassadors who have partnered with us, we are continuing to serve the most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone and envisioning how we will continue to serve them in 2020 and beyond.
Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to a group that has said, “Here I am, send me.” Before we officially launched in January, many were already hard at work sharing The Raining Season. We are excited to share that twenty-one new sponsors have partnered with us this year! Without further ado, and in no particular order, we introduce you to our fabulous ambassadors!
Meet Rachel Staab:
Rachel and her husband, Nick, have been married for five years. They live in Papillion, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha. Rachel works in the Corporate Actions Department at TD Ameritrade. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading and relaxing with her family. Rachel became involved with TRS when our founder, Erica Rust, along with Kelly Grams visited her church in Nebraska. They shared about the orphanage and sponsorship. Rachel quickly saw the value and impact that sponsorship can have. She began sponsoring Kadija Amara. When Kadijah was adopted, Rachel and Nick became sponsors to Aquila and Alfeda Kai. In addition to child sponsorship, they also do a general sponsorship of the Roots House. Rachel has traveled to our center in Sierra Leone two times. In 2013, as a college student, she made her first trip with her mom, Karen. This past summer, she was able to once again travel to Sierra Leone, this time with her husband, Nick. Rachel shared why she said “yes” to being an Ambassador for Kids at TRS, “I said yes to becoming an ambassador because I am extremely passionate about TRS, their mission, and the kids. I am very excited to take on a more active role in the organization. I hope to help spread the word about the wonderful sponsorship program and the impact it has on the lives of everyone involved, both the child and the sponsor.”
Meet Stephanie Girard:
Stephanie and her husband, Thibaut, live in St. Louis, Missouri. They have two children, Stella, 15, and Théo, 6. Stephanie works as the HR Director at The Chase Park Plaza Hotel. Together, with her family, Stephanie enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing board games. Stephanie became involved with TRS by sponsoring a child after seeing a post from our founder, Erica. She traveled to our center for the first time with her daughter in April of 2019. After her trip to Freetown, Stephanie and her family began sponsoring Abdul Ngegba, Aminata Musa, and James Rogers. Stephanie shared why she said “yes” to being an Ambassador for Kids at TRS, “I know there is a great need for sponsors, and I want every kid to have the sponsorship they need. I want to introduce more people to TRS and the amazing kids who live at The Covering and in the Roots House. I didn’t realize until I visited Sierra Leone that TRS is such a small, grassroots organization. We just need to bring more awareness to the center and the good work that is being done there to give these kids a better future. When you sponsor a child at TRS, you become part of the TRS family. You develop meaningful relationships with the kids that will enrich your life!”
Meet Tiffany Lancaster:
Tiffany lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Brandon. She enjoys being on the road traveling with her husband and also being a part of Lancaster Christian Academy. She became involved with TRS through her friend, Melissa Spillman, who has three boys from Sierra Leone. She traveled with Melissa on her first trip in 2018. Tiffany recently traveled for the second time in October of last year. She began sponsoring a year and a half ago, after her first trip. She sponsored Abdulai (before he was reunited with his family), Josephine, and Adama. Since he left, she now sponsors Mohamed, as well as the girls. Tiffany shared this about becoming an Ambassador for Kids at TRS, “What made me say yes to sponsorship is that sponsorship changed my life. I met these kiddos in Africa, and I get to talk to them once a month and have an ongoing relationship with them. I want peoples’ lives and love to be impacted the same way mine has: in a beautiful relationship with some amazing kids. I know they are well taken care of and loved at The Covering with the staff there, so it makes me so thankful to be able to give. TRS has always had a special place in my heart. The people I’ve met that are involved in TRS- on the ground and in the US- make me continue to love the heart of TRS. I see how much everyone takes care of the kids spiritually, physically, and emotionally, and it fills my heart with joy to be a part of this family!”
Meet Adam and Sarah Keogh:
Our next Ambassadors are a husband and wife duo. Adam and Sarah are also another Midwest couple living in Papillion, Nebraska, with their dog Nacho. Sarah is a first grade teacher and Adam is a service advisor at a trailer repair and sales company. In their free time, they enjoy traveling. Adam also likes to play guitar and work on vehicles. Sarah likes to bake and crochet. Adam and Sarah began sponsoring their first child after a presentation at church in the fall of 2015. They talked about sponsoring a child from TRS before but never made the commitment until then. Adam and Sarah traveled to Sierra Leone for the first time last summer. In 2015, they began sponsoring Esther, and after traveling, they added Gabriel to their sponsorship. Adam and Sarah shared this about being Ambassadors for Kids at TRS, “The main reason we wanted to be ambassadors stems from our own personal convictions for this cause. We found ourselves asking the question, 'How can anyone afford NOT to partner through sponsorship?' It is such a simple commitment for such a great return. We are excited to continue our TRS commitment through aiding sponsorship. We are also planning to adopt from the center so it is great to be able to support this mission!”
Meet Lisa Rippy:
Lisa Rippy is a first grade teacher from Franklin, Tennessee. She has been teaching at St. Edward School in Nashville for 32 years. Lisa became involved with TRS through a slide show presentation for the kids at her school. She knew instantly that God was calling her to serve kids across the globe. Lisa, along with her daughter Anna, has traveled to Sierra Leone with the Education Team five times. She is once again heading back on the education team in May. The education team has worked closely with members of our teaching staff. They have brought school supplies and teaching materials. They have also purchased local textbooks and provided books for the kids to read. The education team also provides support to the caregivers in the Hope Room. The team uses its expertise to provide training and resources for the special needs kids. Lisa and her daughter Anna have been long-time sponsors. They began their sponsorship journey by sponsoring the Salam boys until they were adopted. They now sponsor Alfreda and Moses. Lisa shared that Skyping with Moses is very entertaining! Lisa also shared why sponsorship and being an ambassador is important to her, “There’s a saying that once you’ve been in a teacher’s class, you will always be one of their “kids.” The same thing applies to the kids at TRS. Once they get into your heart, they are forever there.”
Meet Jen Conrad:
Jen is a multi passionate entrepreneur that resides in Central Illinois. She is married to her high school sweetheart, AJ, a US Marine of 23 years. Together, they have three biological children, and recently adopted two children from our center in Sierra Leone. The Conrad family is currently awaiting Visas for their arrival to the states. Jen became involved with TRS in 2015 as a sponsor. She made her first trip on a team in 2016. Including her first trip in 2016, she has traveled five times and once more for court. Jen shared why she became an ambassador, “I became an ambassador for the kids at TRS because sponsorship and traveling changed my life. I want others to experience the life-changing experience of loving a child across oceans and seeing the hands and feet of Jesus working in Sierra Leone.”
Meet Molly Bollie:
Molly is from Dublin, Ohio. Molly and her husband have three little boys that keep her quite busy! In her freetime she truly loves doing anything with her family, being outside, and loving every day that they have together! Molly is on the TRS board. She was talking to a friend a couple of years back that got her involved, and then after some time she interviewed to be on the board. Molly shared that it has been such an honor to be a part of an organization like TRS. As a mom of three young boys, Molly has not yet traveled to Sierra Leone, but hope to one day do so. Molly began sponsoring children from The Raining Season several years ago. She has even been able to celebrate the adoption of one of the children she was sponsoring. Molly joked that our Executive Director, Francis Pyle, didn’t really give her a choice in becoming an Ambassador (really he saw her heart for TRS and the potential impact she could have). Beyond an encouraging push from our Executive Director, Molly shared why she said yes to being an Ambassador for Kids at TRS, “I love getting people to sponsor kids and teach them about this little world in Sierra Leone that means so much to me! I have absolutely loved being a part of TRS and all that it has to offer. I learn more each time I am on the board calls and I love hearing about our little kiddos over there. It makes me feel like they are one of my own!”
Meet Elizabeth Siravo:
Elizabeth Siravo runs an online business from home and loves fitness, running, and pizza. Originally from Philadelphia, Elizabeth lives in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth and her husband, Tony, have three children ages 14, 12, and 10. Her two boys and one daughter all love playing soccer and being active. Elizabeth became involved with The Raining Season as a sponsor in 2019. Elizabeth and her husband were friends with our founder, Erica, and they were both very impressed with the great work that they were doing. They knew that they had to help so they decided to begin sponsoring. The Siravo family currently sponsors Maligie, who is sixteen years old. They look forward to seeing his bright smile and love talking to him during their monthly skype call. Elizabeth shared this on why she said “yes” to being an Ambassador for Kids at TRS, “I said "yes" to being an ambassador because I know how valuable this experience is, and I wanted to help share it with others. Giving back is important to me, and this is a great way to help the children at TRS. But it's also a great opportunity to help people right here at home because becoming a sponsor will add so much value and purpose to people's lives! I wanted to share that these kids need us, and honestly, we need them too. By sponsoring a child you can make such a huge impact, in more ways than you realize.”
Meet Mindy Cooney:
Mindy Cooney and her husband, Shannon, live in Centralia, Illinois. They have two children, Posie, 6 and John, 5. After living in Los Angeles for 10 years, the Cooneys moved back to Illinois to raise their family after stumbling upon a winery and horse farm for sale. Six years later, Mindy and her husband now run their own family winery called Crooked Creek Winery. They will open their second location this year. Mindy’s husband, Shannon, also works full time running a staffing agency in St. Louis, while Mindy has her own virtual business that she works from home. In her "spare" time, Mindy is an advocate for the revitalization of her town that she loves so much, she helps her dad raise horses, and she loves a good run. Mindy’s virtual business led her to TRS in the first place. She heard about TRS through another Ambassador and skincare entrepreneur like her. She was posting about it on social media, and Mindy noted that it was purely God's plan that she saw it. That was 2017. Mindy and her family now sponsor three children and are in the early stages of adopting. Mindy shared, “We began our sponsorship in early 2017, unsure and not really knowing what to expect. After getting our first picture of Sorie, my heart opened up and took hold and never let go. There was this indescribable, overwhelming human connection that I felt with him from the very beginning, and I knew his precious life was a cause worth fighting for. Earlier this year, we added a set of siblings, Samba and Musa, when we saw their cute faces smiling beyond their trauma and that there was a need.” She traveled to our center for the first time last year, and like so many, that one trip changed her life. Mindy shared why she became an Ambassador for Kids at TRS, “My life story has been full of too many blessings that I can only explain as divine appointments. I learned a long time ago to pray daily for God to guide my footsteps. I do that. But then the second part of that is listening and choosing to move my feet. This was one of those things. When I was asked to be an Ambassador, I was scared. I felt really, really unqualified. But I looked at all the ways the universe had to conspire to get me right here, and I felt trust without borders that I could do this, and I would be talking about this gift anyway, because of the love I have for TRS and the people that live there. So, here we are.”
THANK YOU to our incredible ambassadors. We are thankful for your willingness and excitement to serve The Raining Season. Because of your dedication to the Ambassadors for Kids at TRS program, and the new sponsors that are willing to commit to supporting our kids each month, we will be able to continue providing an outstanding staff to love, disciple, and care for our kids.
We are already a quarter of the way into 2020, but there is still time to become an ambassador. We have room for three more ambassadors. Are you ready to say “YES!” to being an Ambassador for Kids at TRS? If you want to partner with us in this program or would just like to learn more scroll to the bottom of the website and under "Partners" click "Ambassadors" to learn more or you can reach out directly to our Executive Director, Francis Pyle, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Raining Season