We had a chance to sit down with our founder, Michael Donner and talk candidly about Barco’s Nightingales Foundation. Below is part one of the conversation.
Q. What motivated you to start Barco’s Nightingales Foundation?
A. For some time my wife Frida and I had been trying to think of a way to pay tribute to four people who greatly influenced our lives: my mother and father and Frida’s grandmother and grandfather. The idea of helping children around the world with severe problems seemed to be a fitting way to honor their lives, their values and the impact they had on us. Through our Foundation, we can make a difference in the lives of children and their families in ways similar to the way they impacted us.
Q. Since starting the Foundation, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?
A. Improving the lives of 20,000 children – that’s kind of overwhelming to think about, and by far our greatest achievement. Personally, the opportunity to see first-hand the difference our work has had in making the world a better place, especially for children in need. I never anticipated we would have impacted literally thousands of children so quickly. I thought we’d be influencing and helping many, but I never imagined that our Community of Compassion would provide nearly 3,000 life-changing surgeries with ReSurge International, 300 with camperships to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, and clean water for 15,000 by building solar water wells with Hispaniola Mountain Ministries.
Q. How do you select the charities to support?
A. I met Phil Borges, a photographer, who told me about the work he did with ReSurge International on the medical trips where he photographed the stories of life-changing surgeries. I asked for an introduction to the executive director and realized that this was truly an organization that was changing lives.
I first learned about Ronald McDonald House Charities through a business relationship with McDonalds. Then I learned that one of my employees’s had a child with cancer who had been going to their camp, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times. I knew there had to be a way for us to help send more kids to camp. This started our relationships with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, and ultimately to the camp.
I was introduced to Hispaniola Mountain Ministries through another customer, Phil Little. He told me about his foundation that worked to build schools and provide medical care in Haiti. I asked how we could help and he said that they needed water wells. The people of Haiti were desperate for clean water to prevent disease and improve lives. I told him we would help and since then, we’ve built four wells, each helping about 5,000 people.
All of the charities we support start with personal relationships. It’s vital that we know their stories and hear and see personally how they are making a difference. For each, we maintain a close relationship so we can be certain that the funds we provide are channeled in the right direction.