St. Helena’s Grace Episcopal Church Caring For Others Overseas

Over the past thirteen years volunteers in St. Helena California at the Grace Episcopal Church’s collected donations for the annual rummage and estate sale. They collect donations throughout the year and try to sell everything in a two-day period. This past year they raised just over $50,000 in two days to support the three homes that are provided for orphans that live in Russia and Uganda. Each year that passes Norm and Linda Manzer try to help more children and families that they come in contact with. They have been able to do this from the generous contributions that the members of their congregation make, which is greatly appreciated by the children living in the orphanages as well as by some families in Belgorod whose children have severe disabilities.
Originally the purpose of the rummage sale was to raise money to buy supplies and send St. Helena teens to Russia to staff a summer camp. After three years of doing this Norm realized that in the “Vladimir region, the children leave the orphanage at the age of 16 to pursue training trade in a trade school or to try and make it on their own and of course it’s a disaster…Through donations and the proceeds from the rummage sale we were able to buy two homes in Russia seven years ago and employ two pairs of foster parents. Each home has six boys ages 16 through 20.”
Due to the success of the yearly rummage sale and the two homes provided to the orphans in Russia the church was able to support some orphans in Africa too. Norm said: “For the past three years we’ve started to branch out to Uganda as well…We’ve seen the necessity to support a start-up orphanage with younger children ages 2-12, most of them orphaned because of AIDS and wars.”
The first week in October 2013 Norm and Linda Manzer from St. Helena, California arrived in Vladimir to visit the two orphanages that were started by the members of Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena and the help of The Children’s Hope Chest a Colorado-based nondenominational group. They also stopped off in Belgorod City to spend some time with three families that they met 6 years ago and one new family that they met on this trip. This is Norm's 36th trip to Russia.
Written by Nastya Rastorgueva
My name is Nastya Rastorgueva. I am 17 years old. I live in Belgorod, Russia. Six years ago I met new American friends, Norman and Linda Manzer. They are doing volunteer activity. Visiting orphanages and some families, and also the rehabilitation centers. During our communication we have become good friends and they are very dear to me. It is now difficult to imagine that at one time we didn't know each other.
The kindness of the aunt of Linda and the uncle Norm knows no limit! Every year they try to visit children in need not only in Russia, but also in other countries, and to present them a droplet from the heart and support.
It is very important to be close to the child during their difficult moments. The child needs someone that not only appears sensitive, but also is honest, understanding, sympathetic, people who will be able to help and support, give strength not to despair and find the correct course of life. Uncle Norman and the aunt Linda deserve big respect, after all they give to hope to children's hearts!
Dima Kozhushkov
Dima is always waiting for a new visit from his American friends. He takes the time to memorize lots of poetry so that he can recite it to his guests, in hopes that they will like it. He talks about Uncle Norm and Aunt Linda all the time. They are both very special people, very positive minded. After they leave, Dima is asking, “Is Dyadya Norm coming again”? For the next year this question will be all that matters to him.

We are very thankful to our American friends for their visits over the past 7 years. For our small family their visits are like “sunlight”. We appreciate them taking the time to come and visit us and for the financial help you have provided. Thank you very much! We pray God keeps you all healthy. Tamara, Dima's mother.
A special thank you to the management and staff and the Hotel Belogorie for providing a beautiful setting for the families that Norm and Linda visit every year in Belgorod.

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