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  • Writer's pictureGenie Boynton

Sponsor Spotlight: Tricia & Paeng

This new feature, which can also be found in our newsletter that will be sent out this week, is an exciting one. Sponsor Spotlight gives us the opportunity to get to know our sponsors and gives them the chance to share their GRACE story.

Our January spotlight is Tricia Vanderford. She and her husband, Mike have been the sponsors of Paeng (pictured below).

Is there anything about you, or your family, that you would like to share? I am a retired special education elementary school teacher of 28 years. I have two adult children who are also teachers, and live in Williamston, SC and Athens, GA. My husband and I moved to the Piedmont area in 2018, after having a grandson. Since then, another grandson has been added to the family through adoption, and we are called upon to assist in many ways. We love living close enough to go to school programs, having "overnights", and sharing meals often. Family is so important to us, and I'm glad we can be involved in their lives while the boys are young.

What made you decide to get involved as a child sponsor? Mike and I had been in church our whole lives, so one of the first things we did her was find a church. We joined the Upstate Church in Simpsonville fairly quickly after moving. One of the first Sundays we attended, Dr. Jon Sullivan was visiting. Our pastor, Wayne Bray, introduced him as a friend and told us a bit about the organization, GRACE. I had been praying about sponsoring a a child overseas, but had no idea who to trust, or how to do it. That Sunday, my prayer was answered. I went to the table in the lobby they had set up after the service and asked hot to find a child. One of the volunteers showed me the website, and that afternoon, I prayerfully looked at the pictures of the children in Thailand. I was impressed with the founders, Jon and Angie Sullivan, and liked the Georgia base. I picked Paeng, a child with a birthday close to my mother's birthday. She is a beautiful child who is now 16 and doing well.

Tell us about your experience as a child sponsor. I have loved being a sponsor to Paeng. When Angie was still in Thailand, she would send updates through email. Every birthday and Christmas, I send a little gift to Paeng. Before COVID, I could send gifts with the mission team from our church. Now, I can send them in boxes and they send from headquarters in Georgia. I love having the connection. I can send ecards to Paeng through Angie. Paend has sent us Christmas cards a few times. She is quite the artist, and even drew a picture of Mike and me she saw on Facebook. She has been a joy to sponsor. When she pursues higher education, we can continue to sponsor her there. We pray her aspirations will be realized.

What does GRACE mean to you? I have been a fan of GRACE for four years. I love their mission, and the wonderful work they do. When Angie was in Thailand, she would do Facebook live clips and I experienced many things in that way. They moved into a new facility on Facebook live, with the children actually moving the supplies and furniture. Their facilities are keeping the children very busy and away from harm. I am very impressed with the mission here in the states preventing human trafficking and bringing awareness to all of us. It speaks volumes that even though Jon and Angie have moved back to Georgia, they are continuing the find avenues to fulfill their mission. GRACE has enriched my life by my being a small part of it. I would encourage anyone to get involved in sponsoring a child or supporting GRACE in any small way.

If you are interested in submitting your GRACE story or if you would like to be interviewed for a Sponsor Spotlight article, please email

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