Lifestyle Publications helps orphans in India have new life, hope and a future
In December 2016, Lifestyle Publications partnered with the nonprofit organization, Angel House to open a home for orphans in India. Thanks to their dedication and the generosity of donors, the magazine has helped 50 street children gain access to a better life, and hope for a future.
Here at San Clemente Lifestyle Magazine, we were excited to learn that the founders of Angel House, Lindsay and Dominic Russo, are living right here in San Clemente! We listened intently as they shared the story about how it all started, and how far they’ve come.
Angel House was founded in 2010 while Lindsay and Dominic were on a mission trip in India. For Dominic, the experience was familiar. He had been participating in international learning experiences since he was a teenager, gaining an understanding of the tremendous needs of people in developing nations around the world, such as Guatemala, India and Ghana. For Lindsay, however, visiting India was an eye-opening experience.
This was her first time in India, and she was blown away by the overwhelming need she witnessed. It was the most desolate place she had ever seen, smelled or heard, and she noticed how there were hundreds of kids running around the streets, without anyone looking after them. She felt nudged to visit an orphanage.
The orphanage she was taken to turned out to be a small, makeshift, tin structure in the backyard of a local person’s home. There were 60 kids sitting on the dirt floor, Indian style, between walls that multiply 100 degree-heat. Come to find out, the orphanage was simply a feeding center, where children could get one meal a day, from a very generous family.
“My heart sank in that moment,” says Lindsay. “God struck my heart, and I knew I had to do something.”
Lindsay committed right there on the spot to build a home, and Angel House was born. She spoke with Dominic and the pair agreed the issue was urgent. As soon as they were back home in the States, Lindsay put together a logo and website and started telling the story with the few photos and videos she had. She says it was the hardest thing they have ever fundraised for but within a year, in December 2010, the Russos cut the ribbon and opened their first home for 50 kids, near Hyderabad, India.
Dominic says he and Lindsay were thinking it would just be the one house, but then they realized how many orphans there were in India: an astonishing 30 million. They knew their work couldn’t end there. They committed to the goal of building 100 homes in India, in theirs and their children’s lifetimes. That’s when something interesting happened.
Thanks to her best friend, Michele, her passion, and the powerful story behind the cause, Lindsay landed a spot on the game show Minute to Win It in Los Angeles. Lindsay and Michele made it to level eight on the show and won an impressive $250,000. With her share of the winnings and significant exposure from the show, Lindsay and Dominic were able to open 11 more homes in India.
By year five, Angel House had built 100 homes in India, and have now surpassed their initial goal. Today, there have been 172 homes built, housing more than 4,000 children. The Russos’ new goal is to bring 100,000 kids off the street, and give them a better life and future.
“From total poverty and no hope, to hope and a future,” Dominic says, reflecting on the beauty of creating and witnessing the transformation of the children’s lives.
Besides the incredible heart behind the mission, Angel House also makes sure to operate sustainably. Dominic says the team’s philosophy is to partner with locals, letting those in India use their own strengths, while also bringing strengths from their team to the table.
For example, locals work with the government to secure the land. They run the houses and take care of the children’s basic needs, such as food and clothing. The take the necessary steps to get the children enrolled in public schools, which is possible because the children have a permanent address and legal guardian. Local Angel House staff also invest in the program and run their own fundraising campaigns to support it. Dominic says it’s a beautiful partnership between the local and international community.
The Russos are thrilled to have relocated their headquarters to south Orange County. They had originally thought about moving from Detroit to Los Angeles, but with so many friends and supporters in Orange County, they were more than happy to land here instead, just less than a year ago. Their headquarters are in Dana Point, and they live in San Clemente.
“We never dreamed in a million years we’d be living here,” says Dominic.
Both he and Lindsay are grateful to be making San Clemente their home. They appreciate how much people in the area care about making an impact in the lives of others.
“The spirit here is unique,” says Lindsay. “People think big and dream big.”
From Lifestyle Publications to local supporters right here in San Clemente, vulnerable children in India are experiencing love, hope, and life to the fullest. To learn more about Angel House and how you can support the mission, visit AngelHouse.me.