About Us

We support the most destitute orphans with the basic necessities.

At Lift the Children our mission is to seek out the world’s most destitute children within orphanages and provide them with the necessities, training, and inspiration they need to develop, grow, and become self-sufficient.

The children we serve in Africa have no families to turn to, and nowhere else to go. They are orphaned, lonely, sick, and without hope. Sometimes babies are left at our orphanages doorsteps. They are taken in and provided with shelter, food, education, and healthcare. We help provide them with a secure and loving home. We help prepare them for life by teaching them life-skills and self-reliance at an early age. Our goal is to help them reach their highest potential and be responsible citizens.

Lift The Children guarantees that all sponsorship donations it receives go directly to the orphanages and the children. This is possible through generous support from the John Volken Foundation, which covers all expenses including, wages, travel, administration, and communication expenses.

Our Board

Meet our caring and compassionate team that volunteer their time and money.

John Volken
Founder & Chair of the Board

At 18, John immigrated to Canada with $80.00 in his pocket and plenty of enthusiasm. After several successful business ventures he started United Furniture Warehouse.  He built it from one small store into one of the largest furniture retail chains in North America, with over 150 locations and more than $200 million in annual sales.

In 2004, John sold his business and transferred all the proceeds into a foundation with the sole intent to meet social needs. Among other charities John founded Lift the Children and the John Volken Academy. John’s foundation is the major funder of Lift the Children.

For his accomplishments, John received many awards, including the coveted EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Canada’s Pacific Region in 1995 and the Dalai Lama Humanitarian Award for effectively changing lives in 2015.

For more information on John Volken please click here:

Darrell Hadden
CEO & President

Darrell is the CEO of Graphically Speaking and previous to that worked in the R&D and manufacturing divisions of Rogers Cable and Telus. Darrell has spent the majority of his career in the technology sector focusing on web applications, e-commerce and internet protocols. He is a past President of the BC Marketing Association (BCAMA).

Chawna Volken
Board Member

Chawna studied Child Development and Child Psychology at Brigham Young University. In 1990 she founded a neighborhood mother’s support group which is still active with over 100 members today. With her great love of children, she helped establish Lift the Children with John. Chawna is a very active board member and manager with the John Volken Academy.

Bil Koonar BCom., LLB.,
Board Member

Bil practiced law in Vancouver until he joined United Furniture Warehouse in 1997.  In 2004 he transferred to the John Volken Foundation. Bil has been with the Advisory Board for Lift the Children since 2009 and has visited a number of Kenyan orphanages. He is the past President of The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver.

Jon D. Elton
Board Member

Jon is the President and Founder of Elton Media an advertising agency in Vancouver.  Jon has worked his career in advertising and television production for the last 35 years.  He has been with Lift the Children since its inception and helped build a large dental school in Kampala with his friend Dr. Drew Cahoon.


Gordie Gill
Board Member

Gordie is the CEO of Tri-Peak Developments which specializes in the re-development of commercial real estate projects. He is also involved in a variety of technology development projects and assists a variety of non-profit organizations.

Gabrielle Steed
Vice President of Operations
Gabrielle is licensed with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation. She currently works as an Orton-Gillingham Practitioner Interim, providing structured literacy support to individuals struggling to learn. Gabrielle has been with the Advisory Board of Lift the Children since 2009 and currently serves as the Vice President of Operations.


Mary Kamau
Country Director-Kenya

Mary Kamau holds a Master’s Degree in Development Studies from Catholic University of Eastern Africa and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Moi University. She has eight years of experience in child protection. Mary is also a certified trainer and a professional mediator. Mary oversees Lift the Children orphanages in Africa.

Jane Terepocki, BA, CHRP
People Development

Jane is a Human Resources Specialist whose areas of focus are training and policy.  Jane has over fifteen years’ experience working in the public and private sectors. Jane is a people centered strategist and believes that change is possible when surrounded by a good team. She currently works  in the areas of education and administration for the John Volken Academy.”

Jaynas Prasad, CPA, CMA, B.S.
Director of Finance

Jay is the lead accountant for the John Volken Academy and facilitates all of the finances for Lift the Children. Jay oversees all of the accounting needs for the many charities and subsidiaries of the John Volken organization.