Tyrone man travels to China to help build playground for orphans

A Tyrone man recently spent the better part of a week helping build a playground for orphans with special needs in Tianjin, China.
Craig M. Kilmer, along with East Freedom’s Allan G. Hancock, both of The Hancock Groups, Inc., made the trip on Jan. 28 and returned on Feb. 4. The pair, along with 21 other volunteers, spent their time digging holes, raking sand, carrying playground parts, assembling equipment and pushing wheelbarrows. After six days of hard work, a desolate construction site had been transformed into a colorful play area filled with children.
“The children’s live will never be the same,” said Kilmer, “and neither will ours.”
Of their experience, Hancock said, “Words are inadequate to express the joy of the children when they started to play on the playground. This trip not only created a positive impact on the kids, but also created as much of an impact, if not more, on us, the playground builders.”
The playground build will benefit more than 100 at-risk children living at the Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village, as well as residents of neighboring communities. Unlike traditional orphanages, children’s villages allow orphans to be raised in freestanding homes with house parents.
Hancock and Kilmer’s fellow volunteer’s and MDRT Foundation President John Marshall Lee, CLU, RHU of People’s Insurance in Fairfield, Conn. found that the project transcended the typical boundaries during an interview with local media.
“None of us were bilingual, but some of them understood spoken English whereas I have no talent in Chinese,” said Lee. “So after the interview was over, we looked at each other and smiled, until one of them looking directly at me said, ‘We know that you love our children.’ To know that our work is understood, beyond words, is powerful.”
Hancock and Kilmer learned about the project through the MDRT Foundation, which sponsored the build. The MDRT Foundation makes grants to charities around the world thanks to the generous support given by members of MDRT, a professional association comprised of the top financial professionals of which Hancock and Kilmer are members. The MDRT Foundation provided funding through its Seeds of Life Grant Program, which supports young-start-up organization that provides services to families and children.
Although funded by the MDRT Foundation, the project was a collaboration of three organizations. Kids Around the World (KIDS), based in Rockford, Illinois, builds playgrounds in war-torn and impoverished countries. KIDS received a Seeds of Life grant from the MDRT Foundation to secure equipment and to provide for shipping and equipment costs. The Philip Hayden Foundation, dually based in Los Angeles, Calif. and Beijing, China, operates children’s villages in Tianjin, China, including the site of the playground build.
The MDRT Foundation was created in 1959 to provide MDRT members with a means to give back to their communities. Since its formation, the MDRT Foundation has granted $11.6 million in 61 countries around the world. The majority of these funds were raised by MDRT members from MDRT members. Notable organizations that have benefited from MDRT Foundation grants include Make-A-Wish Foundation International, Habitat for Humanity International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The MDRT Foundation is the philanthropic arm of MDRT, the premier association of financial professionals. MDRT is an international, independent association of nearly 28,000, or less than one percent, of the world’s best life insurance and financial services professional knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of sales excellence in the life insurance and financial services businesses.