Montgomery group honored for humanitarian efforts

Belvidere-based Child Initiative International (CII), a nonprofit organization assisting children in the U.S., Africa and India, presented its 2012 Humanitarian of the Year Award to Genesis Community Church in Montgomery, Ill., Sunday, May 6. The annual award acknowledges a person or organization that helped CII at an outstanding level, thereby making a substantial difference in the lives of the many children CII supports.

Genesis Community Church and its Pastor Jeffery Barrett were honored this year for the consistent nature of the support the congregation has provided to CII for more than four years. As one of the first churches to officially support CII, Genesis has remained faithful in assisting with CII’s mission to help children. The church is known for making visitors feel welcome. Pastor Jeffery Barrett is also the executive director of Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity.

CII’s Chairman of the Board Phil Klikas spoke very highly of Genesis Community Church and Pastor Barrett. “The people of Genesis Community Church really deserve this award. The encouragement and support they’ve given to Child Initiative International are worth even more than the dollars,” Klikas continued. “While Genesis may be a small church in numbers, it has a large ‘David’-like presence in the world of churches and how it helps CII in taking on a ‘Goliath’ challenge of helping children of need throughout the world.”

Genesis’ support of CII remained consistent even while it was experiencing its own large-scale challenges in moving from renting a gym and not having a permanent home to having its own church building.

CII’s efforts began in Uganda, Africa, in March 2006, after Klikas and fellow CII board member Ray Zinkel visited the country during a missionary trip and witnessed firsthand the devastating conditions nearly 1 million orphans were living in there. CII assists more than 1,100 children at five schools and three orphanages in Africa and through other programs in the United States and India by supplying food, educational materials, medicine and clothing. The organization has built and furnished schools and orphanages and has dug wells to provide clean water to children and villages. Donations are especially important to CII at this time of year as the organization prepares for its annual mission trip to Uganda. CII’s support is vital in countries like Uganda, where 76 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line of U.S. $2 a day, only 66.8 percent of the population is literate, and more than 2,500,000 (approximately 10 percent) are children who have been orphaned, many as a result of war or because of their parents’ death from disease and infections.

CII is a faith-based, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization with headquarters in Belvidere and founded to make a positive impact on the lives of children in the U.S. and abroad. For more information, go to

From the June 20-26, 2012, issue

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