HALO founder giving kids the gift of reaching a dream
PUBLICATION: Jefferson City News-Tribune (MO)
SECTION: Zonta Women of Achievement
DATE: April 21, 2013
As the Founder and President of the HALO Foundation (Helping Art Liberate Orphans), Missouri native Rebecca Neuenswander Welsh credits the success she achieved in martial arts with helping her grow the HALO Foundation from the seed of an idea into a global charitable organization.
Rebecca grew up in Jefferson City, and graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Communications. In 2000, she became the Taekwondo World Champion of 2nd degree women ages 17-29. In 2008, Rebecca starred in the feature film “Fight Night,” winning the best actress award at the SoCal Film Festival.
Established in 2004, the HALO Foundation came about as a result of Rebecca‘s initial naiveté in dealing with orphans in developing countries, some of whom had been horribly abused.
Through art, Rebecca learned that the kids could reveal things about their lives that they weren’t comfortable with expressing verbally. “We ask kids to paint what they want to be when they grow up and they look at us like we’re crazy, they can’t imagine themselves tomorrow, let alone in the future. To get them to think like that, help them communicate and dream, and it can make them realize that they can reach those dreams.”
The Kansas City-based HALO Foundation provides food, water, shelter, clothing, education, art therapy, caretakers, medical services, and vocational training to orphans and atrisk children in Mexico, Nicaragua, India, Kenya, Uganda, and residential homes in the United States. It has established learning centers for at-risk, homeless, and foster-care youth in multiple locations, including Kansas City, MO; Denver, CO; and Jefferson City, MO (The center opened in 2012). As Rebecca notes, “The domestic centers are different because we have the foster care system here; we go into each community and see what the missing link is.” Through its centers, the HALO Foundation makes its mission more encompassing by providing opportunities for American youth to learn about volunteerism and philanthropy.
Rebecca‘s work has been featured in mainstream media, including the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and People magazine. Rebecca and her husband, Kansas Citynative Eddie Welsh, have two sons.
The work of Rebecca Neuenswander Welsh and the HALO Foundation truly reflects this year’s luncheon theme, “Celebrating Community.”
To learn more about the HALO Foundation, please go to: https://haloworldwide.org.