CAFO 2015 Recap

RecapCafoImageWe are still a pretty young company. Our first product launched only 15 months ago. It’s extremely important for any company to get in front of as many people as possible; especially in front of their target audience. For us, there are two main groups of people we aim to reach; people concerned about their overall health & people that have a desire to care for children in need. One popular way to do this is through exhibits or tradeshows. We did just that on April 30th & May 1st at the CAFO Summit conference.

WHAT IS CAFO?

10470637_1110341582314769_2231320624851304305_nThere are 17.6 million children worldwide who have lost both of their parents (“double orphan”) and 150 million children who have lost either one (“single orphan”) or both parents. The Christian Alliance For Orphans is exactly what it sounds like, a non-profit organization that unites other non-profit organizations and churches to inspire and equip Christians to “defend the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17). Summit is held once a year to bring passionate, like-minded people together to learn from one another about how to effectively care for orphans at home and abroad through adoption, foster care, and global orphan initiatives. This year, over 2,500 passionate orphan advocates descended upon Nashville at Long Hollow Baptist Church; two days of intense training, worship, discussion, and learning.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

It’s hard to summarize in a few short paragraphs the personal stories that were shared and the knowledge and resources we received. I recall Jen Bricker who was born without legs in Romania, adopted by two loving parents in the states who weren’t afraid to be real with her about her story, and how she had the most positive and amazing outlook despite her circumstances. Oh yeah, and she just happened to be the biological sister of her gymnastics idol, gold medalist Dominique Moceanu.

CAFO2015nashville 5We were moved by Bishop Aaron Blake’s story of how he reached out to one young student in his high school and ended up becoming the father of not only him but also five of his teammates. Despite the fact that they accidentally burned his house down, he continued to show them love, reassuring them there was nothing they could do that would cause him to abandon them.

Beyond the personal stories we heard from the many speakers, we learned that we aren’t alone in this pursuit of caring for orphans. Yes, we knew that already, but there’s nothing like seeing thousands of people all gathered for that sole purpose in mind. To rub shoulders with them. To no longer be unique because we were adoptive parents, but actually be the norm because of it. We learned that the need is great, but that we serve an almighty God who loves these children more than we ever could. That His Word, the Holy Spirit, and His church can accomplish much. That it’s our responsibility to care for them and show them God’s love.

WHO DID WE MEET?

CAFO2015nashville 1I have to admit. When we arrived on the Long Hollow Baptist campus (YES it was a campus, not just a church!), I was overwhelmed at the size of this event! There were literally over 100 organizations taking part as exhibitors, all sharing our passion of taking care of orphans. It was intimidating! There were organizations that covered the gamut from adoption agencies to coffee companies, from large ones like the Dave Thomas Foundation and Focus on the Family to brand new start-ups like 2nd Milk which literally launched while at the conference! And then there was Encompass Nutrients; a for-profit nutrition company that exists to give its profits to the very organizations that surrounded us.

People were a little taken back because at first glance it seemed as though we didn’t belong. Then, as conversations began we were able to explain our products, our mission, and our passion. I’ve never been more encouraged about what we are doing than those two days in Nashville! There are times when I tell someone that we give our profits to care for orphans and I get a ho-hum “I see” or “Ok”. Nearly every person we spoke with got excited about what we are doing and wanted to learn more, try out our products, and even came up with suggestions on how they might partner with us in pursuing our passion.

CAFO2015nashville 3We got to see old friends I’ve been communicating with for years but had never met, meet customers who had been using our products since they launched, and meet so many new people I know I can’t possibly remember them all (though I wish I could). On a personal note, I love that my son Ty, adopted from Thailand, could be surrounded by these people and surrounded by a hundred other children who were adopted just like him. My wife and I simply loved being surrounded by people who simply understood our journey, because they had been through it too. There was comfort in that.

HOW WERE/ARE WE MOVED TO ACTION?

All too often after events such as this, it’s easy to return home and go on with life as normal. Some would maybe say, “You’re a company that gives your profits to care for orphans, what more can you do?” Granted, as a company, we went into this conference looking to spread our brand and hoped to make future customers. But if that’s all we hoped to get out of this, we’d seriously be missing out.

As a business, we are excited to announce that we’ll be partnering with a handful of organizations to donate large quantities of product, but we’ll provide more information on that in the coming weeks. This all came about from several key contacts that we made, and we believe was ultimately orchestrated by God to bring all of the necessary parties together to make it happen. We are also hoping that many new organizations will take part in our Encompass Affiliates program which sends 28% of all sales through a unique link we provide them directly to their organization. It’s a win-win!

EasterSunday2015 32Personally, my wife and I spent the majority of our 9 hours in the vehicle driving back to Northern Indiana discussing ideas of what we could do to make Orphan Sunday a priority in our church as well as start up an orphan ministry. It’s a scary place to be, but right now we are the orphan experts in our local church so it’s up to us to take what knowledge and abilities we have to educate and equip our church to get involved in living out what scripture tells us to do in regards to caring for the fatherless.

We are already looking forward to next year’s conference in Orlando, Florida. If you have never been to a CAFO Summit, make plans to attend! It is life-changing. We look forward to seeing you there!

Sincerly,

Aaron Waggoner, VP of Encompass Nutrients