Restore Humanity is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to bettering the lives of the less fortunate around the world. It was established September 6, 2006 in the town of Fayetteville Arkansas by Sarah Fennel. Restore Humanity is an organization exempt under section 501 ( c) (3) of the IRC.
Board of Directors:
Jean Ann Fennel
Mission & Vision
Vision Statement: Our vision is a world where every person has access to basic human necessities, compassion and kindness are commonplace and there is a perpetual concern for the well-being of others.
Mission Statement: We restore humanity by taking the opportunity to help whenever, wherever, and however we can–not dictating the terms of our assistance, but responding to the needs of the individuals and communities we are serving.
In 2005 Sarah Fennel volunteered in South Africa with AIDS patients, orphans, and abused children. The majority of the country was living in poverty with no electricity, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. Many are living in shacks made of whatever material they could find. After living amongst these amazing people who had nothing, but were still grateful, she was forever changed and knew that she had to do something. After her return, she began gathering clothes, school supplies, books, and toys to send back to the children that she worked with.
During that time Fennel was a language and culture teacher at a local Montessori school in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She started gathering the goods there by teaching the children about the problems in the world and they inspired their parents to become involved. She sent a letter home to the parents asking them to donate goods. She thought it would be a small shipment, that she could ship herself, but the response was overwhelming! Within a week, there was a room full of donated goods! The parents were inspired and wanted to do more. It was then that Fennel realized that there are a huge number of people that care and want to help; they just don’t know how. She realized that she was the connecting piece between those who wanted to help and those who needed it. Shortly after, Restore Humanity was created. The support and the donated goods just grew from there.
Sarah Fennel had known for long time that there was something specific that she was supposed to do. She loved teaching, but always felt a bit anxious because she knew that she was needed elsewhere; that Yahweh (the Almighty Creator) had a plan for her. The moment Fennel decided to create Restore Humanity she felt at peace. She had found her purpose.
Significance of the name “Restore Humanity”
The name Restore Humanity was chosen because people needed help in so many ways. By helping them get what they need we are restoring humanity in their lives. At the same time, we are giving and helping others, thus restoring the humanity inside ourselves, creating a full circle. Each person that joins Restore Humanity or helps others in any way can begin to feel a sense of restored humanity within themselves, it is an incredible gift.
Our First Year and Beyond
Restore Humanity was started September 6th, 2006. Our first big fundraiser was December 9th, 2006 where we raised over $12,000. Joseph Israel (Universal Music Artist) headlined the event. The money came from ticket sales, silent auction, and personal donations. From September to the end of December Restore Humanity raised over $19,000. The money was raised to ship goods that we gathered to ship to South Africa and Burundi. Sarah Fennel began gathering goods while still teaching at Montessori. There was a school supply drive at a local elementary school and a local athletic club (Fayetteville Athletic Club) gathered goods as well.
Restore Humanity gathered school supplies, toys, books, clothes, and shoes. The majority was to be shipped to South Africa wherein Sarah Fennel (Founder/ President) and Kimberly Clinehens (board member) would meet and distribute the shipment to the various places that Fennel volunteered at the previous year (2005). The other portion was to be shipped to an orphanage in Burundi.
After a local trucking company (PAM Transport) donated a truck and took the portion to be shipped to South Africa to an ocean port in Houston Fennel was informed that the government of South Africa had changed their laws and no one was allowed to ship used clothing into the country any more. Used clothing was considered contra band and if it was sent it would be destroyed. Sarah Fennel informed the people at the port which boxes were containing school supplies and books and sent those. The remaining 41 boxes were placed in temporary storage for a few weeks. Sarah Fennel had visited an orphanage in Kenya and attempted to ship it there, but there were so many restrictions it was almost impossible.
Fennel made the decision to give the boxes of used clothing and shoes to Katrina victims in Houston. The shipping company (Airways Freight) covered the shipping costs for the school supplies and books to South Africa. So Sarah Fennel and Kimberly Clinehens went to South Africa and used the money to buy new shoes, backpacks, school supplies, school uniforms, food, soccer balls, cricket sets and more! They also worked with Knysna Hospice in South Africa to pay school fees and start funeral policies for impoverished people that are dying. The money was better spent buying new things that people needed than paying outrageous shipping fees and customs. The economy of South Africa also benefited from those purchases.
It was a lesson learned. Restore Humanity will no longer be shipping goods (unless it is absolutely necessary). The funds raised will go directly to projects that Restore Humanity is working with and those running each project will be held accountable for each penny that Restore Humanity provides.