The Journey

To Make a Difference: A Business to Sustain a Community
By Annie Ogdon

In 2006, Jacob Grady '06, went to Bogota, Colombia, to create an orphanage for at-risk girls.

He already had contacts through Timberview Christian Fellowship and Free Methodist Church of Colombia, pastored by Libni Gasca and his wife Natalia Laverde.

"When I first showed up, I thought starting an orphanage would be easy," Grady said.

It wasn't. But today, the orphanage, known as the Beehive, holds 11 girls with a hope of expanding to 20-plus in the next few years. With 50 volunteers, the orphanage is well on its way to achieve this goal.

Fundraising was not easy at first, however. Raising money is hard when you have nothing to show, Grady said. They were selling something that did not exist. Within six months, money started coming in, from former customers of Grady's to family friends. They were on their way to building a lasting foundation called the FINDESIN, also known as the Children's Outreach Ministries, in Bogota, Colombia.

Bogota has a population of eight million people. Rural citizens flood into to the major city to escape rebel armies. Approximately 530 new people inundate the city per day. Slums are created and young girls become more at risk. The mothers often times turn to prostitution.

"A good percentage of moms do it to provide for themselves and their families," Grady said.

The absence this creates leaves young girls vulnerable to abuse at all hours of a day. The Beehive becomes a safe place. Limitations are still present, however. The team has had to narrow its focus to a worst-case scenario mentality. First, it would take in specifically abandoned or orphaned girls.

In 2007, Catherine Sittser,'05, landed an incredible opportunity to teach junior high at Colegio Los Nogales. She handled the transition of moving to a new country and learning a new language with as much ease as she could. Somehow, she still found time to assist Grady at the Beehive, too. In July 2007, Jacob and Catherine wed.

The Gradys came to a realization that the children needed attention from the right people within their own culture. They said they did not feel they held the same authoritative edge due to language differences. They were the aunt and uncle and the girls needed a mother and father.

"Both Catherine and I are committed to working with the orphanage for 15 years or longer if God desires, but what that will look like when my job isn't exclusively working with the orphanage is something we have yet to discover," Jacob Grady said.

The Gradys and the Free Methodist Church have created a five-year plan. They hope to raise enough money with the help of The Detail Difference, the abundance of volunteers and their own personal tithing.

The Detail Difference has provided its customers with durable interior surface repairs such as showers, sinks, counters, and various floor materials in Spokane since 1998. The company's purpose is to grow an effective organization that produces lasting benefits for employees, customers, community and shareholders. The company now serves Spokane and Seattle, Wash., and Bogota, Colombia.

The Detail Difference has been a significant money generator to sustain the Beehive. The company established a branch in Bogota, to financially back the orphanage. The Detail Difference also provides decent jobs for people within the community and church.

Carlos Muñoz, a former dairy company employee, took advantage of this opportunity and decided to dedicate a full-time schedule to be the repair man in October 2007. Muñoz is now able to put food on the table for his family of five, including a 3-week-old baby. Aida is a single mom and business-savvy woman who willingly took on the role of sales and administration.

They were hard working from day one, Jacob Grady says. Grady and Muñoz committed the first half an hour of each day to prayer and to ask God's direction with The Detail Difference.

Today, Muñoz receives jobs from various hotels and businesses. One of their first jobs was a five-star hotel to do $3,500 worth of work.

Each project is calculated out. A percentage is then given to the orphanage to meet its specific needs. The remaining money goes back into the business to pay employees and support the company. The employees attest that they now can provide a better livelihood for their families.

Enough money will allow the orphanage to move to a more rural setting, where the 20 -lus girls can play in the sun. A rural setting will also provide a place where the volunteers can grow a sustainable farm to provide natural foods.

"From the beginning, this was never my project; it was a Colombia project," Grady said.

This spring, Jacob will extend his friends' company legacy in Portland, Ore., and Catherine will acquire another teaching job. Together, they will divide their personal earned money and a percentage will be sent to the Beehive.

"An orphanage does not have an end," Jacob Grady said. "It can't go out of business."