Liberty Children’s Home Director Delfena Mitchell Says Farewell
Dear Liberty Children Home’s friends and supporters,
I am writing this letter to thank you for your support over the past six years and let you know of my resignation as Director, Liberty Foundation, effective 31 March, 2013.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the children and staff at Liberty and will always be thankful for the opportunity to contribute to Belize’s future – our children. In the nearly six years since working at Liberty, I’ve grown to love and respect each child as I watched their resiliency as they overcame their traumatic past, regain their self esteem, and began to flourish.
As I reflect over my past six years at Liberty, I’m left with a sense of accomplishment for what I’ve been able to achieve over these short but never dull years at Liberty. With Liberty going into its second year, I established a comprehensive administrative record keeping system for staff personnel and residents, a system to track in kind and monetary donations; and implemented projects such as secure pantry and tracking consumables to eliminate waste and loss. These systems allowed us to function in an orderly manner and maintain documentation of important information needed for audits, personnel files, and assessing future needs.
Liberty being a charity institution which relies on donations experienced major financial challenges as our donors and funding decreased. We became so cash strapped that we went through a period in 2009 when we could not pay our staff for six weeks. I led our staff through this difficult time and made the hard choices while taking action to resize our organization. We went from a staff of 44 personnel to currently 21; our monthly operational cost went from $65,000.00 to less than $30,000.00. I implemented projects to cut cost and generated income such as raising pigs and chickens; expanding our vegetable gardens to include a green house; and implemented a water reclamation project which reuses the gray water for the vegetable gardens and greenhouse and for washing down the pig pens.
Noting a lack of public awareness on the work we do at Liberty, I immediately began a media campaign to inform the public of our work and needs by making appearances on television and radio talk shows as well as writing articles for the newspapers. Additionally, Liberty has gained international awareness through my participation in the World’s Forum who on two occasions invited me to present on the work we do at Liberty. Through these efforts a much greater awareness of Liberty work was created and as a result we’ve received more public support.
Under my leadership, planning, and efforts Liberty was able to locally raise $529,578.00 donations in kind or monetary through personal networking, fundraisers, public appeal, partnerships with local businesses, and international organizations.
Through my vision our volunteer program has grown and volunteers who previously worked in exchange for food and lodging now work and pay for their food and board! In the past year alone, I am responsible for over $56,000.00 income generated from volunteers.
Our ever decreasing budget did not allow for repairs and new purchases, yet the children needed new furniture to accommodate their growing bodies. Through friends and supporters, I was able to raise enough money to purchase new beds, mattresses, tables, and chairs. Additionally the children now have a large basketball court, tree house, bicycles, and a library equipped with internet access for their use. Our children are proud members of our community who go to school and church, are invited to parties, have friends over to visit. Of all my accomplishments what gives me the most pleasure is seeing the children who come to us bruise and broken bloom in to beautiful, loving individuals. I’ve advocated for our children during weekly or monthly staffing meeting with the Department of Human Service and have had the pleasure of seeing 13 children find new families.
All of this could not have been possible without your help and I am thankful to each and every one of you who cared enough to take action to help our children.
Liberty’s financial challenges continue and although I previously accepted a pay cut, I am not in a position to accept any further reduction in pay, therefore I am submitting my resignation.
I consider it an honor to have worked with the children and staff of Liberty, the experience was invaluable. I wish only the best for the future of Liberty, and hope that the new Director will be able to build in the programs I implemented over the years. I am very grateful for your support in the past and during this time of transition.
The Belize Times