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The Orphan Train

The Orphan Train on display at the opening gala for the Artisan Express.

By Dr. Cari Burck –

The trains base is being painted with some help from my son and his friend.I always thought I would be the mother and have a lot of children in my home. I had no idea God put that desire in my heart so that we could help start and run an orphanage in Guatemala. A lot of our family’s time, energy, and resources go to helping run Dorie’s Promise Guatemala. I help make the decisions about private schools, remodeling bedrooms, hiring chefs who understand nutrition, and coordinating care with our physician.

In many ways, I feel like the mother of the forty children we care for. I don’t get to hug on them and love on them face-to-face like I want. Still, I know they are getting everything they need to grow, thrive, and have the chance to be exactly who God created them to be in this world. My dream is that some of these children will grow up and solve the orphan problem in Guatemala.

Along with help from my friend, Michelle De Monnin—who owns De The Orphan Train on display in Hungtinton, WVMonnin’s Art Studio in Milton, Washington, we created The Orphan Train for the project. Originating as a fund-raiser for the new Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, the Artisans Express project has become much more. The City of Huntington, WV teamed up with the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital and the Cabell Huntington Hospital Auxiliary to launch a collaborative art initiative called All Aboard! Artisans Express 2015.

Artists from throughout the Tri-State region applied their creativity to 40 fiberglass train engines that are on display throughout the city until fall. Afterwards, the trains will be sold in an auction to benefit the children’s hospital. Michelle helped take my idea for this train and bring it to life. She did the poster and designed the decals for the train. She is the co-artist for this project and I want to make sure she gets credit for that. She is also an adoptive mother of the most beautiful little girl from India, named Chloe. To say there is not a little bit of Chloe in this project just wouldn’t be true.

A lot of people came along side us and helped. My father-in-law, Don Burck, and my friend, Frank Schuler, spent time trying to figure out what we could do with the base. One of my favorite ideas from them was covering it with rocks.

My friend, Mike Emerson, at Huntington Steel figured out how to make the springs on the top of the train come to life. He also consulted on different ideas for the base. Without him, I think I would still be trying to apply coats of fiberglass to it. Mike finally said, “Just wrap the original wood base in metal and paint it.” I also need to give credit to the guys at Paris Signs for their work. Tony Wheeler there is a friend, helping take Mike’s concept for the springs to the next level. Paris also did the decals of the children and made the metal base for us. The painting on the base is—for good or bad—all mine and based on Michelle’s concept.

The Orphan Train on Display and Up CloseWhen people see my train, I want them to feel love for children.

I want them to be reminded that there are children everywhere who need them—especially in our region. There are so many ways to help. Adoption is the ultimate way to help, but not everybody can do that. Foster care is another way to help change lives. There are local kids that need you! I know adoption and foster care overwhelm people. That’s okay. Not everybody can do that, but everybody can do a monthly sponsorship or give a gift to an organization that cares for orphans.

That’s my message with this train: look around you and jump on the opportunities to change life for children who don’t have parents.

The train will be auctioned off later this year. You can bid on The Orphan Train here.

Read more about the Artisans Express project here- Public Art Inspires.

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