Save the Chidlren trustee, Andrea Collins visits with school children in Haiti in 2009. Photo credit: Karin Kuhns / Save the Children
Lucille Ball got it right when she said: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it!” She might well have been describing Andrea Collins, wife, mother and volunteer extraordinaire.
For over twenty years, Andrea has used her management skills, her energy and her compassion to make a difference in people’s lives. Andrea has worked at Marshall Field, has chaired the Bronxville Schools PTA, and worked in the St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School in the Tremont section of the Bronx, where she was instrumental in building relationships between children in the Bronx and Westchester. She also worked in the Special Education Department at the Ardsley Middle School from 1990-1995.
But one of the high points of Andrea’s volunteer career has been her 25+ year association with Save the Children, the international humanitarian organization based in Westport, CT.
Andrea, who serves on Save the Children’s Board of Trustees, first became familiar with the organization in the late 1980s when her husband, Tim, did a stint at a refugee camp run by Save the Children in Sudan. So impressed by the good things that were being accomplished by the organization, Andrea and her husband became contributors. Over the years, they took out sponsorships – a special kind of giving that creates a relationship between a donor and a community where Save the Children is working. Through letters and other correspondence, sponsorships foster meaningful relationships across borders and create a unique bond between the donor and a child in need. Currently, the Collins family sponsors girls and boys in Nepal and Bhutan, Malawi and Mozambique, and Bolivia.
Wanting to see Save the Children’s work in person, Andrea traveled to Haiti where she witnessed deplorable living conditions. “We visited such remote locations that even people in Haiti were unaware that people were living there,” she said. “The children were malnourished and we saw a Save the Children feeding program where the kids were given Plumpy’nut (a low-cost, high nutrient, peanut-based paste that requires no water, preparation or refrigeration). When I saw those hungry kids being fortified with truly life-saving nutrition, it became instantly clear to me that each donor to Save the Children really is making a difference in the life of a child,” she added.
Andrea also traveled to Save the Children’s programs in the U.S. — in Appalachia and the Mississippi River Delta. “In the U.S. the poverty is sometimes hidden in the rural areas and it was a real eye-opener to see the living conditions,” she said. “But Save the Children is doing wonderful things, particularly with educational programs that will help lift those kids out of poverty,” she added.
Ms. Collins was a founding member of Save the Children’s Westchester Leadership Council, a group dedicated to promoting awareness and advocacy on behalf of Save the Children’s work as well as helping to raise funds to support the programs. “Leadership Councils are such a great idea. People who care about children want to get involved on a grass-roots level and this is a tangible way to do it,” Andrea remarked.
For her extraordinary efforts as an ambassador for children in need, Save the Children will honor Andrea with its Humanitarian Award at the bi-annual Celebration of Hope gala on May 4th at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich. Previous honorees include Matt Damon, Ann Curry, and former President and COO of advertising giant Interpublic and Save the Children Trustee Phil Geier. The Celebration of Hope gala is being co-hosted by Save the Children’s Greenwich Leadership Council and the Westchester Council. For more information on the Celebration of Hope, contact Greenwich Council President Shonu Pande at 203-625-0127.