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For many, donating to charity is a once-a-year event. But for Dara and Paul Buczynsky, giving is a way of life. “Paul and I focus our giving to organizations that fulfill the biblical mandate, and those that reach out to the least of these.” Dara is passionate about helping orphans. So much so that she opened a store, Epiphany Boutique in Athens, GA, as a way of raising money for charities close to her heart. “I used to fundraise by speaking at churches, but it was hit or miss. Then a friend suggested I open a clothing store to raise money. You love God, you love orphans and you love clothes!” It was a perfect fit. Dara said, “I pay my employees, pay the taxes, buy new clothes for the store, and the rest goes to charity.”
Twenty years ago Dara and Paul, a physician, spent a year in Kharkiv, Ukraine as medical missionaries. Orphans found a place in Dara’s heart when she and Paul adopted their oldest daughter, Natalie. Dara can’t forget the moment “that dark haired angel with huge brown eyes and chicken pox scabs was put into my arms. It was love at first sight.”
After returning home to Athens, they welcomed two more children into the family, Leah and Cole. Meantime, Paul opened Mercy Health Center, an inner city volunteer-based Christian medical facility.
In 2008 Dara returned to Ukraine to volunteer at an orphanage. She became attached to four teenaged girls. She could not stop wondering–What did their futures hold? Nor could she stop thinking about her Natalie–What if they had not adopted her? What would her future have been? Dara learned that after 9th grade, these girls would be escorted to the orphanage gate with their belongings and released. Statistics show that 70% of all orphans will enter a life of crime or prostitution. How could these children survive? Dara struggled with this harsh reality and resolved to do something. She traveled to Ukraine several more times and worked with different organizations, but each time the fit was not right. Dara prayed for God to show her the organization that did the most good for His glory.
Shortly thereafter, Dara met Nancy Hathaway (Founder/Director) and was drawn to the Heart for Orphans ministry. She traveled on a vision trip to Ukraine with Heart for Orphans and said, “I loved Nancy’s thoughtful approach of not throwing money at a cause and hoping for the best. Every decision Nancy made, had at its end the orphaned kids.”
Dara knew God had directed her to the organization she had been searching for. Dara’s love for the orphaned children of Ukraine and her thoughtful approach to giving back through her store has come full circle.
Dara Buczynsky currently serves as Chairperson of the Heart for Orphans Board of Directors.