Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing four women who are heavily involved in the 501-c-3 non-profit Live Love Foundation of Salvation. They included Darlene Platt who works in Fundraising and Donor Relations; Foundation Co-Founder Rachel Gorken; Uganda Native, Foundation Volunteer and Coronado Resident Princess Lily Mulungi Namwanga; and Fundraiser Sindy Schiller.
The Foundation is religiously-oriented and was founded by Rachel Gorken and her husband Gary Gorken. The couple, who have been married for nearly 21 years, moved to Coronado in June 2012. They have a son Grant and a daughter Olivia.
Rachel came to foundation work through a circuitous path. Born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she earned a BS degree from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia in Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy. The foundation itself traces its roots back to 2015 and originated with daughter Olivia, as Rachel explained. “She was the inspiration and reason why the foundation is what it is. She wanted to give some dolls to Rady Children’s Hospital, so we went around the community and fundraised for that. And that’s how the Live Love Foundation of Salvation was formed.”
Along the way, as Gorken has attracted people of like mind who want to aid and assist others. In 2017, Lily Mulungi Namwanga, from Masaka, Uganda and Gorken met through mutual friend Karen Contreras. Lily, who is a princess in the Ankole Tribe in Uganda and raised as an orphan, lives in Coronado with the Contreras family. Gorken and Namwanga met in a Bible Study class and have been friends since. It is through Lily that the Live Love Foundation began their outreach in Uganda. Lily works for GMS Industrial Supply Inc. owned by the Gorkens, and you may recognize her as a cashier at Smart & Final in Coronado.
The Foundation has several goals, one of which is to raise $50,000 to construct a store in Masaka, Uganda to assist an orphanage in the area. The concept is to construct a store that will benefit the locals, while providing jobs for youngsters in the area. Lily is in daily contact with the founder of Rachael’s House Orphanage in Masaka. The founder and namesake of the orphanage has two children of her own and helps clothe and feed an additional 16 orphan children. The Live Love Foundation has already assisted Rachael’s House Orphanage with a new latrine and water tower which was installed for Christmas 2019.
Lily added, “Older kids, 16 or 17 years old, will work in the shop. It will help supply basic needs like food, school fees and clothes. In my country, a boy is ready to work at the age of 13 and girls are working at age eight. At that age, a girl will know how to cook food for 10 people. The older kids will help in the store after school Monday through Friday and during the day Saturday. The store will be closed Sunday.”
When asked what the Live Love Foundation of Salvation meant to her, Lily responded, “It’s an opportunity to serve God, which has been my dream since I was young. Growing up I wanted to help kids who looked like me. Serving my sisters and brothers makes me feel my dream is coming true, no matter what. Every time I go to see the kids in Tijuana, I tell myself I’m home with my real sisters and brothers.” The Foundation has also paid for medication, sanitation, water, education, and repairs for Rachael’s House in Uganda.
In addition to their outreach in Uganda, the Live Love Foundation of Salvation also assists two orphanages and a church in Tijuana. All of these outreach efforts began more or less simultaneously at the beginning of 2019. Gorken described Edith’s House, which comprises another major fundraising effort for a new building for that orphanage, estimated to cost $200,000. “Ian Stewart is one of our employees at GMS Industrial Supply and he told us about Edith’s House. Currently they have 15 orphans in a building with two or three bedrooms, one kitchen, and a living room. They do their cooking in the living room. Other than a spicket in the kitchen, there is no running water in the house. We are hoping to build an orphanage in Tijuana that will hold 40 people, improving the living conditions with bathrooms, sanitation, running water and things like that. The new building is about 20 minutes south, over the border, and about 10 minutes away from the orphanage’s current location.”
Another beneficiary of outreach from the Live Love Foundation of Salvation is The Children of Faith Orphanage in Tijuana, which currently serves 40 orphans ages 4-18. Sindy Schiller said, “They are preparing kids and sending them to vocational school, to help them earn a living. We’re so proud of the things they are accomplishing, helping the kids to get prepared for the world.”
Darlene Platt said of the region in general, “There is a huge need in Tijuana. Children are living in the streets and some of them are just babies. Often they don’t eat. Their parents either can’t provide food or aren’t interested.”
There is a third Live Love outreach effort in Tijuana, which is the Capilla Calvario Tecolote-Bilingual Church. And their final outreach is in Coronado, as the Foundation works with The Navigators, a world-wide ministry that serves the military. Live Love works with two local families as part of their support of The Navigators.
The COVID-19 crisis has had an adverse impact on the outreach efforts of Live Love because the principals haven’t been able to travel to Tijuana. “It’s a joy to go and COVID has been a pain,” Gorken summarized. “We haven’t gone there since December last year when we had a Christmas gathering.” Platt added, “Due to some donations, we were able to get some nice tennis shoes for the kids and we had a Christmas party.”
Schiller added later, “What I keep thinking is this is an opportunity for us to improve these children’s living conditions. These kids don’t need much, they need love. They give you hugs when you go to see them. If you can give a donation of any amount, that is opening up the opportunity to improve life for those children. If you can donate, we have a website for that. It was amazing to see Rachel and Gary create this foundation, where there is so much poverty in the world. Making a difference takes time and money.”
Rachel Gorken said, “My heart is in all of this. We are providing for kids, for their physical needs and making sure they know Jesus Christ is the Provider.”
For her concluding thoughts, Lily Mulungi Namwanga said, “I would like to tell the people of Coronado that I am really so grateful to be here. At first, I was really scared when I came into this beautiful community. I was wondering, ‘Who would be my friend?’ People see me on my bike and yell, ‘Hi, Lily.’ It reminds me that I am loved. I have made many friends at Smart & Final and I am so grateful, thankful and happy to be here and know people in Coronado.”
Donations for Live Love Foundation of Salvation can be made through their website, which is www.livelovefoundationofsalvation.org. Just go to the ‘Donate’ button on their website.