Orphan’s Heart Relocates to Lakeland

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Orphan’s Heart Relocates to Central Florida’s Lakeland to Impact the Lives of More Children in Developing Countries

(Lakeland, FL) – The headquarters for Orphan’s Heart, an international organization meeting the needs of children throughout the developing world, has relocated from Miami to Lakeland.  Orphan’s Heart meets the needs of children in these developing countries: Guatemala, Columbia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, Uganda and Tanzania. In 2013, Orphan’s Heart mobilized volunteers from throughout Florida and the United States to impact more than 44,000 children and families.  Orphan’s Heart was founded five years ago by its parent organization, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, which is also headquartered in Lakeland.

“Our vision through Orphan’s Heart is to meet the pressing needs of hurting children throughout the world.  Whether it is feeding a hungry child, digging water wells for families to have clean water, caring for orphaned children, building homes, making medical care possible and providing for the poorest of poor, we are committed to making a tangible difference in these lives,” said Jerry T. Haag, Ph.D., CFP®, President of Orphan’s Heart and Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.  “To have the headquarters based in Lakeland will allow us to meet these needs even more effectively.”

Among the major projects for Orphan’s Heart in 2014 is a community transformation in the Dominican Republic. The project was made possible because of a partnership that Haag and Orphan’s Heart Chief Operating Officer Ron Gunter developed with Danilo Medina, President of the Dominican Republic.  The project consists of 100 homes, a church plant and a community transformation center for the poorest of the poor.  This project is slated to be completed in 2015, and Orphan’s Heart is looking for more individuals and churches to come alongside them to make this work possible.

Gunter agrees that the work of Orphan’s Heart will be even greater because of the transition of its headquarters to Lakeland. 

“We have been based in Miami for the last five years and have grown tremendously during that time.  Coming to Lakeland will allow us to work even more closely with a huge volunteer base in the Central Florida area, as well as our support services such as finance, marketing and development,” said Gunter.

Last year, nearly 1,000 volunteers mobilized to locations served through Orphan’s Heart.  Among them was Jeanette Lethers, a Lakeland resident who traveled to Guatemala 12 times during the past two years with Orphan’s Heart to its Malnutrition Center in San Juan.  Lethers, along with the Orphan’s Heart staff and volunteers, cared for up to 100 children daily.

“I am thrilled that Orphan’s Heart is right here in Lakeland.  It gives our family the chance to give even more time and resources to an organization that has literally changed our lives,” said Lethers.

Orphan’s Heart was founded in 2008 to help meet the rising needs of children in developing nations.  Since that time, the international organization has proudly worked to meet the physical needs of children and families, and in doing so, showing them the transforming love of Jesus Christ.  For more information about how Orphan’s Heart is meeting the needs of children, visit or follow us on Facebook at

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The 8th Annual, Yerman Friends of Children, 5K Run & WalkYerman 5k

March 29, 2014
7 a.m. – Registration
8 a.m. – Start
10000 W. Newberry Road, Gainesville, FL  32606

Proceeds will go toward building the second Foster Family Home in Gainesville.  With the support of race participants for the past seven years, Friends of Children of North Central Florida has completed the $2 million endowment and construction of the first unit of the Cellon-Thomas Gainesville campus of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.  The first unit of the campus opened in December and welcomed its first sibling group of foster children just days before Christmas! Please join us in Gainesville for the 8th run/walk so Friends of Children can impact more children with the second unit of the campus!

Register for the run today!


Become a Foster Family: Gainesville Open House Event

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Florida Baptist Children’s Homes has an opportunity for one special set of parents who have the desire to make a forever impact in the life of a child through foster care — but do not necessarily have the means.Web banner_Gainesville2

In December, the Cellon-Thomas Foster Family Home Campus opened in Gainesville to serve children. The home was built in partnership with Friends of Children of North Central Florida to keep sibling groups together when they needed it the most. We are excited to announce there is an opening for one married couple who have a heart for children and would like to become foster parents.  This is a unique opportunity for foster parents to impact the lives of children while living rent-free in a home designed to serve up to five children at one time.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please join us at the Cellon-Thomas Campus open house on Saturday, March 15 at 17218 N. State Road 121 in Gainesville from 10 a.m. until noon.  To speak to someone at FBCH about how you can apply today to fulfill this critical role, call (904) 721-2711 or email

Women of Compassion Running Team

Friday, January 31st, 2014

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A beautiful confident runner


New in 2014, members of Women of Compassion and prospective members are invited to be part of a fun, dynamic and non-competitive running/walking team!  If you are a member of the Women of Compassion giving society or you would like to raise support to be a member, you can be a part of this team!   To sign up as an official team member, email  In your email, please include which races you will be a part of in 2014.  Please note: For each race, you will need to visit the actual event page (see below) to register for the event!

For each race, you can wear your official Women of Compassion dri-fit t-shirt, meet up with other members of the team on race day, and run/walk to bring awareness to the vast needs of the children served through Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and Orphan’s Heart!  Please note, the shirt sizes run very true to size, actually a little large, so no need to size up!  

Shirts can be purchased for $15 by clicking here.  Once your payment is received, your shirt will be mailed to you!

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2014 Women of Compassion Running Team Schedule



Sanctity of Human Life Celebration

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

sanctity of human life banner


Sat., Jan. 25, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., individuals from across the state will gather in Central Florida for one common purpose: to celebrate life.  The Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH), in conjunction with Moody Radio, will host the Polk County Sanctity of Life Celebration at First Baptist Church at the Mall, located at 1010 E. Memorial Blvd. in Lakeland.

Partners to make this event possible are Mark Alford of Winter Haven, A Woman’s Choice, Options for Women Pregnancy Help Clinic, Catholic Charities, Plans For You, Bound for Life, and Life Choice Pregnancy Center.

Those who attend will hear from dynamic speakers Arnold Culbreath, John Stemberger and Michael Spencer.

“We are excited about these speakers and know that those who attend will walk away inspired and encouraged.  They will be equipped with knowledge on how they can be involved to preserve the sanctity of human life,” said Mary Lou Hendry, director of the Sanctity of Human Life Program at FBCH.

More on the speakers at the Polk County Sanctity of Human Life Celebration:

  • Arnold Culbreath is the Urban Outreach Director of Life Issues Institute, Inc., an organization established to serve the educational needs of the pro-life movement. Holding degrees in architectural engineering and theology, Culbreath has worked simultaneously in both fields for many years.
  • John Stemberger is an AV-rated Orlando attorney who has been a pro-life advocate for more than 30 years.  He is president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council.
  • Michael Spencer is a director at the Training for Life Training Institute. He and his wife have four biological children and one adopted child. Spencer has 23 years of pastoral experience and is passionate about educating others on pro-life topics.

For more information about the Polk County Sanctity of Life Program, call (863) 683.2341 or visit