SWAN (Serving Women Across Nations) is a
family-based humanitarian organization
(501c3) that was born when author Liz Adair and
daughters Ruth Lavine and Terry Gifford published Lucy Shook’s Letters
Lucy Shook was
mother to Liz and grandmother to Ruth and Terry. In 1965
she accompanied her husband, Jim, to Afghanistan to work for the
Agency for International Development (AID). Her letters
home were wonderfully descriptive of the people, sights, sounds, and
adventures that she experienced over her five year stay in
letters is displayed her empathy and desire to give aid to the poor
people that surrounded her. In an effort to carry on the same
sentiment of outreach, SWAN was organized to help women and
children in need. SWAN is a 501 (c) (3) organization that is
staffed by volunteers who fund all operational costs so that
proceeds can arrive in their entirety to women and children in
to "re-invent the wheel" initially SWAN linked up with
Opportunity Fund for Developing Countries (OFDC) whose mission
coincides with SWAN's to serve poor families in developing countries
Microcredit to women. Small loans
that assist in small business start up so that women can earn
income to support their families.
Education for children. Uniforms,
shoes and school supplies are provided to allow children
to attend school.
Health. Basic health classes
including disease prevention, hygiene, reproductive health,
HIV/AIDS prevention, Malaria prevention and treatment are provided
to women. Bricked in wells and village latrines improve
Disaster Assistance. Emergency
kits including hygiene kits, infant kits, and feminine
hygiene kits are provided as aid following natural
OFDC for five years, Gifford learned the 'ins and outs' of managing
a humanitarian organization, so she was ready when she reconnected
with a Bolivian friend that she knew during her 18 month missionary
experience in Bolivia 20 years ago. The friend encouraged
Gifford to take SWAN to Bolivia as there was much need in the town
she came from. So 2008 found SWAN setting up CISNE (SWAN in
Spanish) as a legal Bolivian non-profit to bring
services to the poor there.
SWAN has the
vision to grow to unite women here in the States with their
counterparts in developing countries who struggle to keep their
children alive, fed, and attending school. SWAN invites
American women to participate in our "women-to-women"
Gifford runs a lean operation, working an outside,
part-time job to cover the operational expenses of SWAN.
Relying on donations, volunteers, and Addy's
Patty Wagon, SWAN continues to grow.
Terry Gifford is mother of six and
lives in Sedro Woolley, Washington, with her husband Matthew, who
practices dentistry. She loves gardening, hiking with
her Great Danes, hangin' with the family, and avoiding laundry
by working on SWAN.