When Donald H. Whitney was 13, he saw an infomercial on TV about the plight of hungry and poverty-stricken children worldwide, and it made a deep impact. At that tender age, he decided to dedicate himself to making a difference in the lives of young people in need. And today, Whitney, who is president and chief executive officer of Corporate Sports Unlimited (CSU) and Corporate Events and Meetings (CEM), as well as the founder and president of The U.S. 10K Classic, is doing just that. Not only does he engage in activities such as sponsoring 21 children with his wife through a variety of organizations, but he is also bringing his lifelong dream—the World Children’s Center—to fruition.
A truly visionary project that will take a total of 12 years to complete, the World Children’s Center will be a safe haven for socially and economically disadvantaged children from Georgia, the United States and, ultimately, the world. It is a state-of-the-art community where those who are homeless, orphaned and/or neglected will be able to live, learn and grow under the supervision and guidance of a highly experienced and caring full-time staff that is committed to giving children the solid foundation they need to succeed in life.
Upon its completion, the center will be comprised of 100 Children’s Homes that will house as many as eight kids and two surrogate parents each, allowing the community to serve upwards of 800 children. The young people living on campus will have access to Pre-K through 12th grade academic programs, parks and playgrounds, recreation and athletic facilities, a worship center, a pediatric wellness center, a food and clothing distribution center, the International Humanitarian Development Training Center, a variety of public venues and more. Together, the facilities, which will be located on 710 acres of beautiful land in Haralson County, are designed to provide a safe and stable environment that fosters education, health, safety and genuine support.
“The World Children’s Center has been most closely modeled after the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Penn.,” explains Dianne Kaseta, senior director and project manager. In fact, the Pennsylvania school, which has provided support for more than 16,000 children during more than a century in operation, is one of the World Children’s Center’s most prominent and involved advisors. The collaboration ensures that the center’s program model will not only be viable in the setting created, but also highly effective over time.
According to Kaseta, the center, which broke ground 3 years ago, is currently at a pivotal point. The program model is set, the community’s infrastructure is in place and the first student home has been completed. Still, there’s much more to be done. By 2012, Whitney and the team steering the project plan to have the first neighborhood built with 9 homes able to serve 72 children. By the end of the first phase of the project (which includes three phases in all) there will be 24 homes, a Pre-K through 5th grade school, a welcome center, a village green, and parks and playgrounds, among other amenities. Fundraising efforts are ongoing, with a large portion of the money for the project being provided as proceeds from such key events as the U.S. 10K Classic, held this year on Monday, Sept. 6, and the annual World Children’s Center Gala, to be held at the Cobb Galleria Center on Feb. 26, 2011. Individual donors also play a major role in the construction initiative. And with community support, the project’s timeline will remain on track, with the building of several student homes at the top of the list.
“We are proud of our accomplishments to date and are grateful to the dedicated volunteers and contributors who have made it all possible,” Whitney says. “We look forward to achieving our most immediate goal to raise the support needed to enlist our inaugural class of students and build our next two student homes.”
Once those homes are built, the World Children’s Center will be that much closer to changing the lives of children who need a nurturing and healing environment in which to thrive. And Whitney will be that much closer to fulfilling his enduring mission. Because, as the organization that is so close to his heart maintains, “Every child deserves a loving home.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.worldchildrenscenter.org.
Make a change, make a difference
When customers switch to Infinite Energy, they gain a trusted relationship with an award-winning gas provider and, at the same time, help to build a student home. What’s even better, for every year a customer stays with Infinite Energy, additional donations will be made to the World Children’s Center. To learn more or to make a change today, visit
www.infiniteenergy.com/wcc or call (800) 687-9343. Plus, while at this site, register for a chance to win a WalMart shopping spree or Barnsley Gardens getaway!
Run for a cause
When you participate in the 6.2-mile U.S. 10K Classic, you are not only running in one of the most challenging and rewarding races in the country, but you also are helping to raise money for children in need. Proceeds from the event go toward the World Children’s Center. And Best Self readers will receive a discount when registering online at
www.us10k.org through August 31, 2010; enter the code BESTSELF and receive a $2 discount on the registration fee. Please note that the code is applicable to the Labor Day Race (Sept. 6) only and cannot be used for the Kid’s Classic Races or Phantom Division.