It’s little wonder that Jeff Terry sometimes has trouble sleeping.
And on this particular morning, he’s visibly emotional, alternately sitting and then standing and then pacing back and forth across a conference room at Amway headquarters in Ada, Mich.
You might, too, if you were at the forefront of an initiative that has already changed the lives of thousands of malnourished children – but has millions more to help.
But it’s a project that must be administered carefully, and that means working through channels and committees and red tape and hurdles. And it means an intense and seemingly eternal search for partners.
“We have an incredible product,” Terry says of the Little Bits powdered micronutrient supplement, which contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals essential for proper growth in children age 5 and under. “But if you distribute it by just throwing it out of the back of the truck, it’s no more productive than anything else.”
Terry – who serves as Amway’s global manager of corporate social responsibility – knows first-hand the intricate processes that a program like the Power of 5 Campaign must submit to in order to succeed.
“It’s very much like the Amway business,” he says. “It’s about having the right networks built all over the world to help our Amway Business Owners achieve their potential. So we’re doing the same thing in communities all over the world with this.”
Understanding the breadth and depth of the campaign is also essential, says Terry, emphasizing that while Little Bits supplements are the stars of the show, there’s much more to the campaign. The Power of 5 Campaign also has its eyes trained on other global cooperative opportunities where the focus is on childhood malnutrition, as well as localized projects in individual Amway markets. For instance, the campaign also generates traction for the Amway Charity Foundation Spring Sprout project, which builds kitchens in rural schools serving millions of Chinese students as young as age 5.
Terry underscores how the Power of 5 Campaign is so named to draw attention to the millions of children below age 5 whose inadequate intake of essential nutrients stunts their growth, impairs mental faculties and causes health risks. In short, their formative years are jeopardized.
He points to sobering statistics from the World Health Organization, citing how as many as 7 million children under age 5 die each year from preventable causes. Malnutrition is the underlying reason behind 45 percent of these deaths. And malnutrition rears its head in two distinct ways. On one hand, it contributes to the mortality rate. But lesser known is how it fuels “hidden hunger,” which causes stunted growth and iron-deficiency anemia.
Hidden hunger can also affect a nation’s economic development, according to one study that measured economic losses tied to impaired cognitive abilities and substandard educational opportunities.
Terry uses charts and diagrams to chronicle the need. But sometimes, he just presses a key on his laptop and allows the video of a family in Zambia, Africa to do the talking.
That’s where Amway already has implemented the Power of 5 Campaign, and that includes Jonathan Nzima, a father who still grieves for the loss of his firstborn to lack of food. His sorrow is tempered, however, by the introduction of Little Bits supplements into his surviving children’s diets.
The video stirs without being overly sentimental. Jonathan talks in slow, low tones about both loss and hope, and as the film concludes, Terry is visibly affected. “I’ve seen it a thousand times,” he says, “and still…”
When he recovers, he points to a fading screen and says with deliberation that, “It’s about those kids. And that father and his family. And how they’re trying hard to do the best they can for their future.”
And then he brings new meaning to a long-time Amway adage, in a voice brimming with enthusiasm: “We hear about Amway helping people reach their potential,” he says. “Well, this is a direct tangible way we’re able to do that. It’s not about cutting a check or philanthropy. It’s about doing what we do better than anyone – producing dietary supplements to improve lives.”
Terry brings a lifetime of experience to the Power of 5 Campaign. The married father of three pre-teenage children hails from a family of construction workers and educators – an apt training ground for knowing how to build and how to teach others to build.
He’s brought that duality to his professional life, initially working for Habitat for Humanity while attending college. In re-living the experience, his mind is suddenly flooded with the image of standing on the porch of a house he helped build in Baton Rouge, La., for a grateful mother and her kids.
“On that Friday afternoon, I was honored to present that mother with the key to her new home.” It was an epiphany, where Terry realized that she was both unlike anyone he’d ever met – and also a symbol of “how equal we all are.”
“Something about that moment changed my life,” he says, “changed my trajectory. It took me years to figure out, but my purpose in life, I know now, is to directly impact as many lives as I can.”
Eschewing a corporate job where he could have stayed in the D.C. area largely for the money, Terry moved to St. Joseph, Michigan and hired on with Amway, a 90-minute commute. He’s a fan of the company’s promise to help others without making it about handouts.
“The work we’re doing, even though we’re providing a product, is not a charity. It’s a way for parents to give their kids a better fighting chance,” and educate them about health and nutrition.
Now in place in Zambia and Mexico, the Power of 5 Campaign is slated for five more countries this year – Panama, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Guatemala and Brazil.
In 2015, it will reach another five, and another five in 2016 – so 17 countries in all.
Matrida Phiri is a communications officer with the Christian Alliance for Children in Zambia, and she witnessed a dramatic transformation in children there after Little Bits supplement was stirred into their diets.
Their activity levels soared.
Something else occurred as well: “At the distribution centers,” Phiri said, “we had to contend with more noise and increased activity among the children, which was a long-awaited and welcome change for us.
“Their animated little faces were full of life, and they smiled and laughed more often – a light was in their eyes.
“The program has been a great, great blessing for us,” Phiri added.
A critical partner in the global effort is the CARE™ organization, which since 1945 has been working in 86 countries to assist more than 900 projects that affect nearly 100 million people.
“They invest heavily in women and children,” says Terry, “and they provide the global oversight. They work well through local organizations, and so they play a big part in helping us find partners. It’s a shared responsibility.”
There is room for others to step up – including Amway Business Owners (ABOs), whose generosity motivates them to seek ways to get involved.
Terry suggests that they – or anyone else with a heart for kids – donate at Nutrilite.com/littlebits, knowing that all funds raised will go toward distributing the Little Bits supplement through the CARE organization and other non-profits who assist.
Efforts to raise awareness of the Power of 5 Campaign are surging forward, with upwards of 100 events engaging the Amway employee and ABO families through walks, runs and rides. This past May, Amway debuted its “Raise Your Hand” event, which will culminate next year with the production of a collage featuring tens of thousands of handprints being generated worldwide.
With every new contact, Terry hopes he can motivate others to chip in, and he draws a page from his own personal perspective, noting that there are at least three kinds of people in this world.
The first, he says, come home from work, eat, watch TV, see something horrible on the news, and turn it off. The second type views the same report, mutters how that’s too bad, and thinks about it for a while. The third group “goes and does something about it, because they realize that it’s all about making a deeper investment in the lives of all children and all families…to survive and thrive.”
Terry is proud to be associated with Amway, and the company’s heart for the campaign: “There’s a great and powerful leadership role at play here, but also a sense of humility, which is so very Amway.”
The Power of 5, he says, “is understanding we are all more alike than not, regardless of the language we speak, or the color of our skin.
“Our lives are really so similar around the world. Most of our children benefit from opportunities we have. But there are so many kids around the world who don’t have that opportunity. So we have the responsibility to help improve the lives of these children, too.
“That’s the emotional and individual call to action.”
He motions back to the video, reflecting a family now soaring, all because of the introduction of tiny packets to their daily diet.
“I think about them all the time.”