The baby of the famous acting family — yes, those Baldwins — isn’t just an actor, producer and host of a syndicated radio/TV simulcast. He’s also a born-again Christian and staunch social conservative. He took a few minutes this week to talk with CitizenLink about the new orphan care initiative, 2012 in 2012, he launched with two other nonprofit organizations this week.
CitizenLink: How did you become interested in orphan care?
Stephen Baldwin: It gets back to early on in my conversion. I quite rapidly got the opportunity to start working with an incredible evangelistic association, the Luis Palau organization. As I started to delve into ministry, especially extreme sports evangelism, which I did for a few years with a group called Livin’ It, in all of that was the synergy of looking at different missions opportunities. I heard about Food for Orphans and the founder, Gary Van Dyke. I’m pretty sure it was motivated by my wife, who’d heard from a friend about this real small organization that’s dedicated to getting food to orphans to keep them alive. Soon after we heard about Food for Orphans, we reached out to the founder. I took my wife, two daughters and one of my nieces on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2009. When you get into those Third World countries, you see what the reality is and it’s life-changing.
CL: What does your new project, 2012 for 2012, do?
SB: If you look at 2012 for 2012, it’s not just getting them food, but nutrition backed by research and logic. There may be an element that’s domestic, but for the most part it’s international. The greater need is that demographic. Part of our mission is to try to communicate to people that it creates a lot more satisfaction, in the spirit of this sort of motivation, when we try to bring people into a greater awareness of bringing meaning to their money. Once you look at the numbers and start to see that there’s literally a way to save lives — that’s the thing we’re equally as motivated to want to inspire people about. It’s not just about feeding the orphans — we want you to be educated about what you’re doing and as much a part of what we’re doing as well as just giving.
CL: How is this different from other orphan care or feeding programs, like Save the Children or Vitamin Angels?
SB: There is a lot of research behind this. The formulas (for the meals being distributed) were specifically created by the research done by Food for Orphans. If they found that, geographically, this aspect of vitamin or mineral or nutrition or whatever it is lacking, then that type of formulation goes into the food that is supplied in that area. They magnify it as required. So a lot of homework has gone into how this blessing can make a difference, particularly in the nutritional support side of the food that has been provided.
CL: Are you only trying to reach 2,012 orphans in 2012? Or is that a bare minimum?
SB: That’s a realistic goal. Anything that goes beyond that just continues.
CL: Is this a fundraising effort, or do you travel around the globe with it? How does it work?
SB: Right now, we’re just trying to get the word out about it. The ball has started rolling. In its simplest form, it’s really about speaking to anyone that has a heart make a difference in an authentic way. This is an invitation to people to say one meal a day for an orphan is 25 cents. To feed a kid for a day is 75 cents. Today in Boulder, I’ve already spent $20, $30 being me — whether that was my Starbucks red-eye with three pumps of peppermint and a cream, that could have fed two or three kids for a day or two, or I went to some fancy cheese-and-prosciutto place and had my lunch.
The heart behind this thing is humility. We’ve been there ourselves and held these kids in our arms. It’s a motivation to want to inspire people to have a greater awareness of this and to stop and just say to them, “At the end of each day, take that change out of your purse or pocket and throw it in a container.” You can put it in a machine at the supermarket and it will count it for you. Ninety-two dollars will feed an orphan for a whole year. I’m going to spend $92 on a gift for my wife for Mother’s Day, but there are other things going forward that I’m going to stop and think about. I get the opportunity to be blessed as I tour the United States as a faith-based public speaker. Sometimes I get honorariums for those types of things. In the future, there will be moments when tens of thousands of my personal income will go to this movement, because I’ve been there and done that, and I know I can make a difference in that way. And for me, that matters. Not out of any guilt, but a desire to want to give back and make a difference, and just know when I close my eyes at night, there’s a kid in the world closing his eyes after having been fed and nourished in the way he deserves.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about upcoming mission trips and other ways you can get involved with 2012 in 2012.