In February of 2010, Lindsay and Dominic Russo were in India doing humanitarian work when they came across a group of orphaned children that changed their lives forever. Nearly 70 children, full orphans, had gathered into a tiny room with dirt floors and cinder block walls to eat their one and only meal for the day being provided by a local feeding program. The children ranged from ages 3 to 12, and there wasn't a parent or guardian in sight. They were completely alone.
"After spending time with these children, we simply could not turn our eyes and hearts aside. These children needed a safe place to call home, and we were determined to make that happen." -Lindsay
As the day progressed and the reality set in, it was clear that going on with 'life as usual' wasn't an option and something had to be done. These children had no families, no proper clothing, and no sense of stability whatsoever. They needed a place to call home.
That night Lindsay couldn't sleep. She spent the night pouring over her journal with thoughts and ideas of what she could do to help. She had never done anything like it before, but turning her face from this urgent need was not an option. In those moments, "Angel House" was born.
In the coming months, she began to tell anyone and everyone about those children she had met. The goal was clear, but the path to achieve it was foggy. She had to raise the money to make this dream of building an Angel House rescue home a reality, and that goal seemed like a lifetime away. She didn't lose heart and didn't give up, because nothing was too difficult when it came to those precious children's lives being at stake.
In December 2010, the dream became a reality. The very first Angel House Rescue Orphanage had its grand opening for 50 beautiful children in India. It was one of the most memorable days she and her team had ever witnessed as those 50 children ran into their new home like they were running into Disney World. Their eyes shined as they laid on their brand new beds – the first time they would ever lay on a bed or a pillow in their entire lives. The Angel House staff wrapped their arms around the children and welcomed them into more than just their new homes, but their new lives.
As memorable and wonderful as the day was, there was something looming as the harsh reality set in – more than 25 million orphans just like those still lived tragic lives on the streets and in the slums with the same fate those 50 children once held. They didn't stand a fighting chance without someone coming to their rescue and putting their little lives in the hands and hearts of people who could do something about it.
The Angel House team in India knew far too well the sobering fate of abandoned orphans. Without a miraculous rescue, each child was doomed to end up in one of three places: forced child trafficking, child labor, or begging on the streets for barely enough to get by. This is no life for a human being, let alone for a child.
Angel House could not stop with 1 home. It had to become a movement- a movement fueled by the hearts of those who would not just "see" the need but would resolve to do something about the injustice.
Amazingly, just weeks after that first home opening, Lindsay was chosen to be a contestant on the NBC popular game show "Minute To Win It." More than 8.5 million households heard about Angel House in a single moment. She and local Olathe resident Michele Brentano became one of the most successful contestants in the show's history, making it to Level 8, winning $250,000.
What began as one house construction for that special group of children has now grown into a multifaceted charitable organization which exists to rescue abandoned orphans and provide them with a new life by giving them a home, a family, and an education. Hundreds of orphans and street children who would otherwise be trapped in forced child labor, human trafficking, or begging on the streets now have a safe place to call home.
At the young age of 23, Lindsay Russo founded Angel House, a focused rescue initiative for abandoned orphans in India. Through her efforts, orphans who would otherwise be reduced to a life of begging and slavery are enrolled in school and flourishing in safe and loving homes. In February 2011, Lindsay and a friend were chosen to participate on the NBC gameshow "Minute To Win It" where they featured Angel House to more than 8.5 million household viewers. Lindsay also serves alongside her husband Dominic leading Missions.Me, a missions organization that organizes innovative international outreaches.
It is the mission of Angel House to bring abandoned children from the slum to safety and into the loving arms of caretakers that will educate, love and raise them to become future leaders in their generation.
Angel House operates in the highest level of financial integrity. Each year’s operating budget is presented and approved by a board of directors. The board of directors is comprised of business owners and professionals. Each orphanage project and humanitarian initiative is approved and overseen by the entire board of directors.
The finances given to Angel House are compiled by the independent accounting firm, Richard J Boyse CPA, PC. This accounting firm has a designated staff CPA that organizes every Angel House financial contribution and ensures that each dollar is applied to its designated project. Richard J Boyse CPA, PC also prepares and files the annual 990 to the IRS.
Is Angel House a "not for profit" with 501c(3) status?
Angel House Rescue Orphanage is an extension of the 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation Rescue International. At the end of each calendar year, a detailed giving receipt receipt is furnished to each donor for tax purposes.
How much of the money raised goes to rescuing children and how much goes to overhead?
At Angel House, we know that the children need and deserve as much help as we can give them. Because of this, we ensure that 100% of the money raised for projects is directed toward the project. The new home construction prices of $17,500, $27,500 and $42,500 go toward the following:
- Land acquisition
- Materials and All Labor
- Home construction
Additional funds can be raised to provide a:
- Fresh Water Well
- School supplies
- Mosquito Nets
- Playground Equipment
Can I sponsor a child or a home monthly?
Angel House offers monthly home sponsorship opportunities. If you have built a home with Angel House or there is a specific home you want to support, you can designate funds to support the children in that home. Angel House does not facilitate a specific child sponsorship program.
How do you choose the House Parents?
The Angel House International staff chooses the house parents based on the following criteria:
- Their credibility as an Indian citizen (background check)
- Their experience (What they done to show they are capable to perform the job)
- Their interviews (This process is long and tedious and consists of our Angel House International staff getting to know the couple for months, including several extensive interviews and trusted referrals)
- Accountability (Financial background check)
Once the House Parents clear all requirements made by Angel House, they are trained by our Staff in the areas of Leadership, Safety, and Parenting. Additionally, regular unannounced visits are made to each homes to ensure they are operated according to Angel House standards.
One the home is fully built, how is it financially sustained?
In most cases, the long-term financial support comes from non-profits in the immediate community. Angel House will not build a new home until there is a financially sustainable system in place. This enables the community to involve themselves in giving back to the most venerable in their region.