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.
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.