Board Members Spotlight – Carol Brock
Autobiographical piece by PR Consultant and Alfalit Board Member, Carol Brock.
Alfalit Board Member, Carol Brock, has been active with Alfalit International for nearly twenty years. Most of those years have been as a Board member and also on the Executive Committee. Carol was President of her own company, Vendorplus,Inc., an international media fundraising and marketing company, traveling for twenty years overseeing the projects of their sixteen offices in the United States and Canada. Carol developed an early interest in helping people when she taught English in Korea and helped her church resettle refugee families after the Vietnam War. For these refugee efforts, she was named Citizen of the Year. For ten years, Carol was on the city of Coral Gables Senior Citizens’ Advisory Board serving as chairman throughout the critical years of funding and building the current Adult Activities Center. Carol’s interests include family FaceTimes, swimming, hiking, nature photography, writing, traveling, history, genealogy, and playing the piano. She resides in Coral Gables, Florida from November to April, and alternates the other six months between Warren, Vermont and Vancouver, Canada. She attends First United Methodist Church in Coral Gables. She and her husband, Jasper, have a foster daughter, Claudia, and six-year-old granddaughter, Isabella in Arizona, and they helped raise their nephew Philip who is now a personal chef in Miami. Thanks to prayer, Carol’s Mom is a recent survivor of Covid at age 94.
The one-notch-above-rickety pickup truck clamors over the rocks and ruts which are supposedly a road. The driver (whom I later learn was also my bodyguard) and I are heading on a two-day Alfalit trip into the mountainous tropical forest of Panama to deliver books, school supplies, and clothes to our Ngabe-Bugle teachers. The driver speaks no English, and I unfortunately speak no Spanish. As the dusty, hot, humid air flies in our open windows, the truck bounces over a bump so bad that two of our boxes bolt out the back. We finally arrive at Alfalit’s designated meeting place in the jungle. It is a concrete pad with four posts and a tin roof for some welcomed shade. There are fifty to sixty men, women, and young children patiently waiting having walked hours through the hot jungle, most of them without shoes. The women are tending to the children and sharing some meager bits of food carefully brought for the journey. As I began to organize the materials to give out, it becomes very obvious to me that Alfalit has not sent just books and supplies, but Alfalit is the source of these people’s hopes and dreams. I am overwhelmed by their desire to learn and to teach others in their villages. I ask myself, “Would I have spent a day walking barefoot through the jungle to receive a book?” We have a special surprise for one of our teachers who walked over 24 hours to get here. It is a fairly large blackboard including lots of chalk. Upon receiving it, her eyes fill with tears of joy, and I hear many a “muchas gracias.” How can something so simple make such a difference? This blackboard has been her dream for her classroom, but how is she going to carry it back on such a journey? I take my clothes out of my rollaboard and give it to her. I will never forget the sight of this teacher disappearing into the tropical forest pulling the rollaboard with the blackboard sticking halfway out. This was my first trip in the field with Alfalit over 15 years ago. Just as that teacher had her dream of what she and Alfalit can do for others, thanks to this experience, I now had one too.
Like so many of us, I learned about Alfalit from Pastor Roberto Perez, whose passion and love of this ministry touches the hearts of all involved. Pastor Perez asked me to serve on Alfalit’s board. Serving on the Board of Alfalit and being able to give to its ministry is a privilege. The dedicated staff, our Alfalit volunteers, our teachers and students in the field, and the donors who make our work possible unite in a joy-filled adventure of God’s love in action.
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, I received a degree in English/Journalism from Tennessee Technological University and a Master’s degree in Christian Education from Scarritt College, where Alfalit’s founder, Eulalia Cook, went. Unlike Eulalia, who went into the mission field, I could not decide between being a missionary or a movie star and wound up doing a little of both. During the Vietnam War, my husband Jasper was sent to Korea. I went on my own and lived near him with a Korean family in a small village where I taught English. There was no bathroom nor running water, and I learned a lot about psychological privacy. I also learned not to ask what it was, but just to eat it! Exiting the Army in Korea, Jasper and I took six months and traveled around the world—my real education. Back in the states, I started my career in television when there were few women on the air and none at my station. I was a copywriter writing commercials for the salesmen when I thought—why not write commercials calling for a woman. I did and wrote myself right onto the screen. Soon I was doing commercials, the weather and co-hosting a show. During this time, I also worked in large churches as a youth counselor and as a full-time program director. My husband’s corporate job transfers caused a change in my career to television advertising sales and management with Belo Broadcasting and Post Newsweek, which brought me to WPLG-TV in Miami. Here I developed innovative programs to develop new business and vendor support. I was approached by The Miami Herald to come to work for them as their New Business Development Manager. Having directed the top money-producing vendor support/new business programs in the nation for both television and newspaper, I started my own company, VendorPlus, doing similar marketing and fundraising work. Over a twenty-year period as President, VendorPlus took off from my dining room table to sixteen offices throughout the United States and Canada. We worked with major media companies and retail chains such as Disney, Fox Television Stations, Scripps Howard, Knight Ridder, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Toronto Star, Brandsmart, and Burdines. As the media business started rapidly to go online, I worked on the first online newspaper in the U.S. at the San Jose Mercury news and also moved to Calgary, Canada, for two years where I served as Vice President of Marketing for an online startup for the construction and oil Industry.
God gives every individual gifts and talents. Alfalit needs our help in using these talents. I hope that I have made a little impact for good by using some of my fundraising skills to secure grants both large and small by networking with other groups that I am involved with such as Rotary International. Rotary matching grants over the years have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Alfalit projects in specific countries. With help from the Coral Gables Woman’s Club, I have been able to put together small events which raise a few hundred dollars to a few thousand such as the Carolina Ale House Fundraiser for the orphans in South Sudan and Gringo Bingo. Through my contact in Miami Springs Lions Club, we have gotten thousands of pairs of eyeglasses for our students. Over the years, organizations and people that we connect with learn of Alfalit’s mission of service to others, and they can help. One of the best things that has happened to me was helping to take a group of nineteen university students to see Alfalit’s preschool classes in the Dominican Republic. After our return, six of them changed their college majors to go into lives of service to others.
On my dresser is a small handmade heart-shaped box made out of the scraps of a corrugated cardboard, a gift held out to me by a small child in deep appreciation for her Alfalit preschool class in Bolivia. Through literacy, our distribution of Covid information and masks, nutrition, and job skills, we can still continue to work via Alfalit in a world of turmoil and pandemic. Although we work in poverty-stricken areas of the world, I have learned over the years of my involvement with Alfalit, that Alfalit is really a partnership between God’s children where sometimes we are the givers— but very often we are the receivers. Somewhere in our ministry, there is a small hand waiting to give you a small corrugated box.
Some slight edits were made for context and brevity purposes.