“We’re one of the best kept secrets in Warwick,” said Nancy Isabel.
Isabel is a senior philanthropy office at Plan International USA, a Warwick-based organization that aids 56 million children globally.
On Tuesday, Plan celebrated its 75th birthday and the 80 employees of the Warwick company dropped what they were doing to enjoy cake, ice cream and punch. They even had a live video chat with their counterparts in Washington, D.C., who were also having a celebration.
Plan has called Plan Way off Jefferson Boulevard its home since the 1970s, when it moved to Rhode Island from New York.
“It was close to the airport, and the price was good,” said Robin Costello, director of communications.
Plan was started in 1937 after the Spanish Civil War left many children without parents. What started out as a child fostering organization has now blossomed into a company that sponsors children globally.
“We started with helping one child, and now we’ve got 1.2 million,” said Costello.
Plan sponsors 1.2 million children directly, but reaches about 56 million across the globe. Plan works in 50 countries – 20 of which are sponsor countries – and in 60,000 communities.
Plan has several campaigns targeted at stopping injustice against children. Their “Count Every Child” campaign aims to get all children their birth certificate. Without the formal document, children cannot attend school, seek medical treatment or secure employment. By working to ensure children receive their birth certificates, Plan aims to cut down on things like child trafficking and forced marriages.
Plan’s newest campaign, “Because I am a Girl,” aims to fight gender inequality. According to Plan, 70 percent of those living on less than $1 a day are women, 2 million girls ages 5 to 15 become involved in the sex trade and 62 million girls are not attending primary school. “Because I am a Girl” seeks to keep girls in school and keep them out of harm’s way.
Plan has even teamed up with local jewelry company Alex and Ani to create a “Because I am a Girl” Charity by Design bracelet. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the bracelets will go toward Plan’s campaign. The jewelry is available in stores and online.
At Tuesday’s birthday party, staff members attempted to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar to win a new “Because I am a Girl” bangle bracelet.
“They pulled out all the stops for this event,” said Chip Carter, Plan International USA’s CIO. “They even made me sing ‘Happy Birthday.’”
All 50 countries associated with Plan celebrated simultaneously.
After “Happy Birthday” was sung, Jose Rosario, a 26-year employee of Plan International USA, got to blow out the candles. Jeanne Moynihan, a 25-year employee, cut the cake and served up slices.
“It’s an amazing organization,” she said. “I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet a lot of people all over the world.”
But the staff only took a small portion of their day to celebrate, and soon returned to their desks, working to help better the lives of children across the globe.
Kitty Holt, an ethic and compliance officer and staff member for 18 years, called Plan “awesome.”
But, she said, “It would be nice if we could put ourselves out of business one day.”