Responding First in Chile
As this article was going to press, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country of Chile. Following the quake, a tsunami decimated coastal communities. Foundation 4Life’s first response included a $5,000 donation to SOS Children’s Village in Concepción and a $10,000 check for the Red Cross Chile Emergency Relief Effort. 4Life presented this check on the Azteca America Television Telethon during the first week of March.
The founders of 4Life Research will tell you that through science, they make successful distributors, who are then better able to commit themselves to works of service in this world.
Three words that become one principle: commitment to service.
When David and Bianca Lisonbee founded 4Life in 1998, service was such an integral component of their lives it became the pillar on which the company stands.
“The value of service has always been stressed in our lives, long before 4Life came to be. We both grew up with great role models in our parents, who taught us that the greatest purpose of our lives here on this earth is to help other people,” says David Lisonbee, 4Life Founder and CEO.
Together, Building People
The executives of 4Life emphasize service, including within their own leadership. The founders are understandably committed to service projects, but company representatives say so are other executives, employees and distributors at all levels.
“One of the phrases we love at 4Life is, ‘He rises highest who lifts another,’ ” says Bianca Lisonbee, 4Life Co-Founder. “True leadership is about helping others reach their greatest potential.”
The company’s motto, “Together, Building People,” demonstrates how the three values of science, success and service link together, with one leading to the other. The Lisonbees see these values as being integral to each other.
“From the beginning, our goal with 4Life has been to build people through science, success and service. First and foremost, we are committed to providing the most cutting-edge, scientifically based products in our industry. These formulations then provide an opportunity for people to succeed in the business of sharing. Success then puts us all in a position to serve,” David says.
Bianca believes that 4Life is synonymous with service because of the company philosophy of building people through science, success and service. As the company’s executives see it, 4Life’s science builds the opportunity for success, which brings potential for service.
“It is difficult to separate business building from our philosophy of service because the way we build business is to build people. And as we build people, the desire to help others do the same becomes contagious,” Bianca says.
The philanthropic initiatives of the company and distributors are so important to the executive team that in 2006 the company launched Foundation 4Life, a 501(c)3 organization that manages the service part of 4Life’s mission. According to Tracie Kay, Foundation Director, 4Life underwrites all of the foundation’s operating expenses, including marketing, human resources and overhead, and makes a monthly donation.
“That allows for 100 percent of all outside donations to go to humanitarian efforts,” Tracie says.
4Life President Steve Tew unveils a plaque at the Hyderabad, India, SOS Children’s Village. The sign carries the Foundation 4Life mission of “building people, families and communities.”
Today, Foundation 4Life has completed more than 50 service projects in 17 countries. Whether it’s ongoing work at La Casa Rosada orphanage in the Dominican Republic, support for the SOS Children’s Villages in India or the relief efforts provided in the Philippines following the devastation in the wake of Tropical Storm Ketsana in September 2009, the foundation’s efforts are guided with the help of distributors “on the ground” in these locations. Distributors are usually the catalyst for service projects in their own backyards.
“Our commitment has always been that the foundation would seek ways to help people wherever our distributors conduct business throughout the world,” Bianca says.
With 16 international offices on five continents to support distributors around the world, 4Life has a special opportunity to perform philanthropy in many locations. Last July, 4Life President Steve Tew visited India to present an $11,500 check to the SOS Children’s Villages for their work providing homes for orphans.
4Life’s charitable initiatives are closely tied with the work and interests of distributors around the world, Steve explains.“We enjoy amazing partnerships with our leaders,” he says. “This enables us to maximize resources on the ground, where our help and support are needed most.”
Tracie also underscores the role of the distributors in the company’s philanthropy. Large charitable projects may be launched from the foundation, but often are first brought to the company’s attention by distributors. “We take a lot of leads from our distributors out in the field,” she says. “They see needs in the countries where they do business.”
This strength in networking service efforts through the worldwide distributors helps 4Life to provide ongoing humanitarian works and to react swiftly when catastrophic events happen. 4Life has provided relief following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, Hurricane Noel in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and Tropical Storm Ketsana in the Philippines.
For many years, 4Life has found itself involved in charitable causes in the Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti. Esdras Cabrera, a 4Life Gold International Diamond who has been with the company for 10 years, has helped engage the company in causes in that country.
His passionate pursuit of helping others in the Dominican Republic led 4Life into their relationship with the La Casa Rosada orphanage. In 2006, 4Life wrote a check for $75,000 to launch a five-story addition to the existing facility in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital and Esdras’s hometown.
“Every one of our projects is close to our hearts, but I think we would have to say that the work at La Casa Rosada orphanage has a special meaning to us,” Bianca says. “The fact that it was initiated by one of our incredible distributors was an inspiration not only to us, but the entire 4Life family.”
Many of Foundation 4Life’s works are focused on children. Bianca sees this as a natural fit with the company she founded with her husband.
“When we first visited La Casa Rosada orphanage, we discovered that the children loved to paint pictures. We asked if we could ‘commission’ the children to do some paintings that we’d then auction off at our convention to raise money for the orphanage,” she says. “What really struck us was to see how much they valued our recognition. How can you put a price on self-respect, confidence and inspiration? This is the outcome of our service efforts with children around the world, whether we are working in the Dominican Republic, the SOS Children’s Village in India or one of the Homes for Children in Malaysia. All children should feel their value in this world. And that’s what our industry is all about, isn’t it?”
While the relationship with La Casa Rosada is ongoing, there are always emergency efforts. The Foundation 4Life’s ability to mobilize distributors was put to the test recently in the Dominican Republic when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti.
When the ground began to shake on Jan. 12, Esdras was meeting with distributors during a special training session in Santo Domingo. He felt his chair moving, but didn’t know what to make of it. “In about three minutes, all of the cell phones were ringing,” he says. “People were screaming: ‘An earthquake has destroyed Haiti!’ ”
It didn’t take long for Esdras to understand the immensity of the disaster. It also didn’t take long for him to get in touch with Tracie at Foundation 4Life and for them to begin to organize a response. Esdras was extremely grateful for his company’s immediate commitment to the need at hand. “It was incredible to see the response of the owners of the company,” he says.
Just a few days after the earthquake, Esdras had gathered a team of local distributors who worked around the clock to determine what the needs in Haiti were and to prepare a container truck filled with 1,200 meals, as well as milk, water and other supplies. They drove through the night. They arrived at the border just in time for another serious earthquake to strike. When that panic subsided, their border crossing, which began as a difficult experience, was facilitated by people nearby who had heard of the work of Foundation 4Life at La Casa Rosada.
When Esdras describes their long day in Haiti delivering supplies to a town about 60 kilometers outside of Port-au-Prince, the sad and frightening images come fast and furious: seeing people with obvious physical trauma and crush injuries; the U.N. convoy that stopped for the Foundation 4Life mission; working their way around buildings collapsed into the streets; and the despair in the long lines of people waiting for food.
They arrived safely at their destination and were able to distribute supplies without chaos, but not without heartbreak.
“They were desperate and hungry,” Esdras shares. “As soon as we handed the meals to them, they were opening the food and eating.”
The moment seems to have transformed him. “I made a decision right there that even if I had to start all over again, I am willing to do it, just for an opportunity like this, to bring relief and help to people,” he says.
Plans are being made for a second relief trip to Haiti. Esdras also hopes to work toward a project to provide housing for the new homeless in that country. “Some of these people have no place to sleep,” he says. “We are going to make the world a better place for them.”
The residents of the SOS Children’s Village bring joy to visitors. Foundation 4Life’s work often addresses the needs of children throughout the world.
This spirit of service—of making the world a better place for others—not only is supported by distributors, but is visible in the actions of employees and executives at 4Life.
Tracie, who has been with 4Life since the company’s inception, describes the company as “people-oriented. The executives are truly interested and concerned about you as a person and not just as an asset to their bottom line. There is true humility at the top of our executive management team.”
Employees catch the spirit of service, also, with local projects for the company, which is based in Sandy, Utah. Each year, employees take on a handful of projects, including gathering supplies for a local food bank. Last year, 4Life employees donated more than 1,000 pounds of food to the food bank and spent a day of service there helping to stock shelves.
The employees also support La Casa Rosada with a “giving tree” project each Christmas. Employees make needed purchases, and 4Life underwrites the shipping to the Dominican Republic. Currently, employees are getting ready to make tied-fleece blankets for approximately 300 patients at a Dominican Republic hospital.
The service opportunities also extend to the newest of the distributors. Every convention features a service project, Tracie says. At the last convention in Orlando, conference attendees assembled and filled 5,000 backpacks for children as part of a local organization’s efforts to support single mothers. “We try to find a local charity wherever our convention is being held,” Tracie says. This year, the convention will be in Salt Lake City, and Tracie is searching for a charity project for attendees.
Whether it’s through the distributors, employees or the executive team, the word service has become more than artwork on the wall at 4Life’s world headquarters.
“We find great joy in the fact that 4Life’s success has provided a greater opportunity to do good in the world,” Bianca says. “Together, we are able to do things that we could never have the power to do alone. That is one of the great blessings of this industry.”