International Volunteers – Testimony in English and German!

Everything started in October 2017. My parents attended a Sarah Vienna concert in my hometown. All excited, they told me about the organization that Sarah Vienna and Steffi Vogel founded in Romania. At that time, I was planning to spend a year overseas in 2018 and had already contacted different organization, but nothing had really captured my heart yet.

Then I read about Firm Foundations Romania. My heart started racing right away when I heard about their work, and I wanted to go there right away. It didn’t take long before I decided to go for ten weeks in the fall of 2018 to volunteer. And I can say – I don’t regret it for one second! I couldn’t really picture the country of Romania or the work I would be doing, but I was positively surprised. I was welcomed with open arms and immediately felt welcomed. When I got home from my first shift, I felt fulfilled. You give love and you receive it back 10 times more! Often friends from home asked me what I do for hours with the babies and if it gets boring. I can tell you, it’s anything but boring. We had dancing sessions with the babies, we sang and listened to Christmas songs, we read books to them, we played, we changed diapers and fed the babies, and we had full conversations with them (yes, it is possible to have conversations with babies!)

As volunteers coming together as a team, we encouraged each other to brave full diapers, helped each other in difficult situations and just enjoyed holding the babies. I love how every person in Firm Foundations Romania is respected. No matter if I was sick or I had an exciting experience – I always had somebody to talk to and someone who cared for me. With other volunteers or visitors from Germany, I got to explore the beautiful nature of Romania and I am totally smitten by the beauty of this country.

I can’t wait to see how big my babies have gotten when I come back! 😊

Alles begann im Oktober 2017. Sarah Vienna gab ein Konzert in meinem Heimatdorf, zu dem meine Eltern gingen. Sie erzählten begeistert von der Organisation, die sie und Steffi Vogel in Rumänien aufgebaut haben. Ich war in dieser Zeit dabei, mein Auslandsjahr für 2018 zu planen und informierte mich bei verschiedenen Organisationen, jedoch hatte mich bisher nichts so wirklich ins Herz getroffen. Ganz anders bei Firm Foundations. Mein Herz ging sofort auf, als ich hörte, was der zentrale Punkt der Arbeit dort ist und hatte Lust, sofort hinzufliegen. Es dauerte dann auch nicht lange, bis ich mich entschied, für zehn Wochen im Herbst 2018 als Freiwillige mitzuarbeiten. Und ich kann sagen – ich bereue keine Sekunde! Es war eine der besten und erfahrungsreichsten Zeiten meines Lebens.

Ich hatte kein Bild von Rumänien und wie das Land und die Arbeit wohl sein würde, und ich wurde so positiv überrascht. Ich wurde mit offenen Armen empfangen, fühlte mich sofort willkommen. Als ich von der ersten Schicht im Krankenhaus kam, fühlte ich mich so erfüllt! Man gibt Liebe und bekommt sie zehnfach zurück! Ich wurde oft von Freunden zuhause gefragt, was man denn stundenlang mit Babies tun kann und ob es nicht langweilig sei. Ich kann sagen, dass es alles andere als langweilig ist. Wir hatten Tanzsessions mit den Babies,  haben Weihnachtslieder gehört und gesungen, vorgelesen, gespielt, gewickelt, gefüttert und geredet (ja, man kann durchaus mit Babies Gespräche führen! 🙂 ). Man ermutigt sich gegenseitig, sich an volle Windeln zu wagen. hilft sich, wenn es zu kniffligen Situationen kommt, lacht gemeinsam, wenn man versucht Rumänisch zu sprechen und genießt es einfach, diese Babies auf dem Arm zu halten. Ich liebe es, dass sich bei Firm Foundations für jeden Einzelnen interessiert wird. Egal ob ich krank war oder ob ich ein aufreibendes Erlebnis hatte – immer hatte ich jemanden zum Reden und es wurde sich gekümmert.

Mit anderen Freiwilligen oder Besuch aus Deutschland habe ich die wunderschöne Natur von Rumänien erkundet und bin absolut begeistert von der Schönheit dieses Landes. Kann es nicht erwarten, zu sehen, wie groß die Babies geworden sind, wenn ich bald wiederkomme! 🙂

From Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors to 3D Butterflies…

David and I have just completed another seven enjoyable weeks working with the children in the After School Programme run by Firm Foundations Romana in Budila. What a great bunch of young people they are. When we arrived in January we had a warm welcome and lots of hugs from all those who remembered us from last year; in fact we experience this every day! The pupils are so enthusiastic when working on our various projects that they really keep us on our toes.

The teachers are working wonders with all the children. Most of these young people start the programme somewhat undisciplined but soon come to understand what is required of them. They are polite, too, calling us Miss Hazel and Miss (!) David.

We’ve brought some new ideas this time. Joseph and his colourful coat – each child designed their own and the best one from each class was transferred onto cardboard for the kids to colour. Then we took photos of them ‘wearing’ the coat; everyone took a copy home. It was such good fun and we’ll have to think up some more like this. They also completed collages depicting the Resurrection. The younger ones did the mammals and  birds collections and finished off with a 3D picture of butterflies, another very popular project. Now we must come up with some new ideas for next time!

David has been volunteering in Romania since 2006, prompted by a dream, and I joined him five years later. We heard about Firm Foundations while working with another charity supporting Rroma families so, when their focus changed we came to Budila as we still wanted to help Rroma children with their education. We are not teachers but hope to bring something to stimulate their minds. This was our second winter with FFR. We are sad to be leaving but are already looking forward to our next visit. We are English by birth but consider ourselves as Europeans, having spent nearly 27 years living in Spain.

~ Hazel and David Martin

A Special Outing for Special Kids!

Throughout each month the students in our After School Program receive points for attendance, good behavior, completing their worksheets, etc. Then at the end of the month the children can “shop” with their points, buying anything from clothing to toys to hygiene products to school supplies. It’s a great incentive program!

The ASP teachers have now added an even bigger incentive for the kids to work towards. Each month three students will be chosen to partake in an outing… this is a very big deal for kids who have never left their village, even to go to Brasov, and some have never ridden in a car.

For three children, their adventure was last week. The kids were so excited they showed up an hour early and said they couldn’t sleep the night before. They piled into the car and off they went to the big city of Brasov. Once there they saw the tourist sites of the city center, the Black Church, and the local town hall. They ate dinner and played some rounds of pool. But what seemed to excite these 11 and 12 year old the most was playing on the playground. The freezing temperatures and snow falling didn’t damper their enthusiasm to have the chance to be kids!

The children couldn’t wait to tell their friends about the outing, and we know it’s going to be a great incentive for all the children in the program. We are so thankful for our ASP Project Manager and teachers who go out of their way to make these kids feel special! What a great day for everyone!

Happy Birthday! It’s a Celebration!

Do you remember as a child how exciting it was when your birthday was approaching? You’d start counting down the days, planning your birthday party, and making a list of what you were asking for. Then when the birthday past, the first question was “how long until my next birthday?”

Can you imagine not knowing your birthday or ever celebrating? It’s a hard concept to grasp, but many children in the village don’t know when their birthdays are and have never celebrated this special day. Some of the children don’t even know their own age.

At the After School Program, we know how important it is for a child to know his or her birthday and to know that he or she is special enough to be celebrated for being alive! Once a month we have a party for all the children who had birthdays in that month. The children get so excited and feel so loved. It’s a joyous occasion, filled with cakes and balloons and even party hats. So for all the children in our After School Program who will be celebrated this year, Happy Birthday!

Year End Giving – Tax Write Off Opportunity!

Thanks to donors and volunteers, Firm Foundations Romania continues to provide arms of love for the babies, the hospital with diapers, and education for the children in the village.

As 2018 wraps up, we ask that you consider making an end of the year donation. Not only will you be supporting the children in Romania, but you will be able to benefit from a tax write off! It’s a win for everyone.

Checks made out to “Firm Foundations Romania” can be mailed to :

Firm Foundations Romania
c/o Group One Consulting, Inc.
13405 Folsom Blvd., Suite 511
Folsom, CA 95630

For other ways to donate, click here or please contact us at if you have any questions.

“In Hopes That St. Nicholas Soon Would Be There…”

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there”

Most people will recognize these lines from the famous poem, “Twas the night before Christmas.” For many people in Europe, the stockings are actually boots that get filled with chocolates and treats on December 6th. St. Nicholas Day honors Nicholas of Turkey who lived his life devoted to serving and giving to the poor,sticking with his Christian faith even when it meant being persecuted and imprisoned.

This year “St. Nick” made a visit to our After School Program to visit the children. What a fun and new experience for the kids to have their picture taken with St. Nick and to then receive an orange and chocolate Santa. Both the kids and the teachers enjoyed this special day.

For more information about St. Nicholas, please click here.

Germany IMPACT Tour 2018 Update

Thank you for all your support, love, and prayers, as the 2018 tour in Germany went incredibly well. Sarah and Steffi were able to raise funds, recruit volunteers, while making new friends and contacts for who support FFR’s mission. Three newspapers posted an article about the tour as well! Check out the below video to see concert clips:

Sarah had many highlights from the tour, including:

“One big highlight for me was sharing a sermon at the Christus Gemeinde Pforzheim on Spiritual Adoptions based off from Romans 8:14-17 and Ephesians 4:4-7. We were all spiritual orphans until we became spiritually adopted through the Holy Spirit by our Heavenly Father. 

Leading worship singing Amazing Grace in three languages, English, German, and Romanian was a test of my language skills! Thank God singing in a different language is easier than speaking it at times! 

Singing “My Home Brasov” and seeing the Romanians in the audience whose home town is Brasov was very touching for me. It was a heart to heart moment of love and appreciation for the beauty of this city. Moments like these on stage will never be forgotten.”

Special thanks to Steffi Vogel for the amazing job she did translating from English to German, as well as sharing about FFR’s projects and needs. Steffi has such a great way of making people feel appreciated and loved.

Thanks also goes out to all who hosted and organized for this tour, as well as to the musicians and German Ambassadors who assisted with concerts and presentations. It could not have been done without you!

Blessings of Baby Clothes

Over the years, we have been so blessed with donations of clothes, shoes, and toys to pass on to those around us. One of the ways that we give these items out in the Children’s Hospital is through the Baby Closet. This is when we go to the moms who are staying with their little ones and bring toys, hygiene items, and clothes for their babies. We prepare bundles of clothes throughout the week, and then every Friday morning 2 or 3 of us go throughout a few of the wards to encourage the moms and bring these little gifts to brighten their day. Some of the moms have children who get sick often, so we get to know them after a while and visit throughout the week during hospital shifts. Their babies get to know us too and are so excited when they see us coming with the basket of toys! How sweet to be able to not only take care of the babies and toddlers who are there alone, but also encourage and bless the moms who are staying with their little ones?

Sometimes while going to the moms and their babies, we’ll also have toys for the older kids who are staying there alone. Recently, there was a 12 year old boy who came up to one of us in the hospital and said, “I know you! I was here when I was little and you gave me a toy!” Maybe a toy car doesn’t mean much to some, but to him it meant that we cared and that memory stuck with him. It was a good reminder to stop and visit with the older kids too, and since then we try to have more toys with us to give them.

Thank you to all who have donated so many wonderful items, and to our volunteers who have helped make and distribute these adorable bundles of clothes! You are a blessing to us and to so many families and children.

The Backbone of our After School Program

Do you remember your favorite teacher? The one who made you feel extra special, or helped you understand a subject you never understood before, or gave extra recess time to the class. Our hope and prayer each is year is to find teachers for our After School Program who the kids will remember with fond memories. The teachers who go above and beyond and see each child for the potential that he or she is worth.

We are thankful for the Project Manager and the three teachers who will be educating the 130 children enrolled in the After School Program. This team of four (from left in the above picture: Ioana, Andreea, Project Manager Daniela, Iszabella) will be helping inspire the future, through educational assistance and homework help, and will be teaching about God’s love and hope. Please keep the program in your prayers – for safety and health for the teachers and for the students to progress in both school and in knowing who God is. We believe this is going to be a great year and we look forward to keeping you updated. 

Back to School!

Another year has begun for the children in our After School Program! We currently have over 100 children in Kindergarten through 6th grade. Many of these children have been in our programs since they were little, some we have even known from the hospital as babies, and it has been so special to watch them grow and continue to be a part of their lives. We are so thankful for the chance to not only help them in their studies and encourage them in their future, but to also share God’s great love with them.

Please keep the kids and teachers in your prayers as they start this next year. Pray for wisdom and patience for the teachers as they teach, encourage, and share God’s love, and for the children that they will continue in their schooling and come to know God as their Lord and Savior.

Thank you to our teachers, donors, and everyone who has helped to make this program possible!