Meet the Team Monday – Selam Abera

This week we’re featuring Selam Abera, one of our amazing OH Life Center & Guest House receptionists. Selam is always a source of positivity and smiles, and we’re honored to have her as part of our team. Read her interview below to learn more about Selam.


How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

The first time I met OH was in 2014 when I was looking for a job and OH Life Center was looking for a receptionist. As soon as I saw their vacancy, I applied and luckily, I got the job. One of the things I love about the OH Life Center is the Christian environment. I have experienced other hotels but the Life Center was different. I got to be myself. Soon after I started working, I got the chance to meet different OH teams that were coming to serve. I feel honored that I get to work with Ordinary Hero.


Why are you passionate about helping others?

One of my greatest passions is helping others. When I was younger, I enjoyed helping my mom and my family with everything. As I grew older, that habit grew and I desired to help others as well. I like helping people find solutions that meet their specific needs. And it gives me great satisfaction and joy.


What do you love most about your country?

I love my country and my people because everyone loves God and fears Him. If they are in a bad situation, they thank God. They are also such welcoming people. I know that we are one of the poorest countries in the world and that makes me sad but in all situations, Ethiopians have amazing social interactions and know how to live and help each other. I am proud to be an Ethiopian.

Meet the Team Monday – Firehiwot Ayalew

This week we’re featuring Firehiwot (Fray) Ayalew, an OH original. It seems like we’ve always known Fray because of her level of involvement over the past few years. She may take the title of “Guest House Manager”, but she wears many other hats, and we don’t know where we’d be without her! Check out her interview below to learn more about this amazing teammate of ours!


How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

The first time I met OH was when I was working at a Guest House that OH teams used to stay at. I was amazed at the work Ordinary Hero was doing in Ethiopia. In 2013, when the OH Life Center and Guest House opened up, I was one of the few people that joined from the start, and I now work as the Manager at the Guest House. I am really happy to be a part of Ordinary Hero. It has been a great inspiration and I get to see and be a part of the great work OH does in Ethiopia.


Why are you passionate about serving others?

I love Ethiopia so much and it hurts me to know that we are one of the poorest countries in the world. I want this to change. I want us to come out of poverty, see the basic need for food, health care, and shelter fulfilled. I want people to get access to education. I strongly believe education is the best way out of poverty.


What do you love most about your country?

What I love most about Ethiopia is our fear of God. I love our diverse cultures; we have more than 80 languages being spoken across the country. I love our great social bond with many events that allow us to come together. And of course, I LOVE ETHIOPIAN COFFEE!

Adopted Brothers Give Back To Children In Need

It is great when we see people giving back to children in need, but it is even better when we see those who were helped themselves, giving back to children in need.

Mother, Jacqueline Gustafson, met Founder, Kelly Putty, during her stay at the Ordinary Hero Guest House to adopt her son from Ethiopia. The Gustafson’s have two boys from Ethiopia, Marjock and Abraham. Abraham is 10 and joined their family at 6 months old and Marjok is 9 and joined their family at 7 years old (on Christmas Day!).

Jacqueline wanted to make sure her boys did not lose sight of where they came from, so she began starting conversations with them about how they could be a blessing to children in their home country of Ethiopia. They receive an allowance each week by doing yard work, cleaning, and projects around the house, and the two brothers agreed to save $2 every week from their allowance. After an entire year, they had raised over $200 together! Not bad for a 10 and 9 year old. The Gustafson family decided to utilize our Mission Market, where anyone can buy much needed items for the children and families we serve in Ethiopia, and purchased three pairs of shoes and a school bundle, which will provide a child with all the education materials needed for an entire year.

A little generosity can go a long way, and we are so thankful for the Gustafson family sharing their story with us. We believe these small seeds of generosity will grow into a lifetime of service to others. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Meet the Team Monday – Abebech Kebede

This week’s ‘Meet the Team Monday’ features our newest member of the team, Abebech Kebede, our new field director! Abebech brings both knowledge and heart in her support to our ministry leaders on the ground in Ethiopia. She also works directly with us (stateside staff) on a daily basis. Please join us in welcoming this amazing woman to the team!


How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

My former professor/instructor, who is the Holistic Child Department Head at Ethiopian Theological College of Addis Ababa, sent me an e-mail explaining the job opportunity at OH. That is how I got connected and came to know about Ordinary Hero.


Why are you passionate about serving others?

I understood the concept of serving others later in life, and it’s connected to my experience with becoming a Christian. Previously, I did not have a clue.  I was focused on myself and pursuing my own life objectives like many other people.  But through time, the more I spent time in the word of God and in prayer, I came to understand God’s love. Then the way I looked at my life changed completely. I understood my purpose. At that time, I was living in Italy and working there. I believe it is God who put the desire in my heart and I followed it.  Philippians Chapter 2 explains very well about Jesus, the concept of humility, and how he came to serve others. Therefore, as Christians, Jesus is our model.  I believe this is what God expects from us. Serving others, from my little experience, is not an easy concept. It requires your time, energy, whatever you have… dying to yourself. But it is my prayer to live each day of my life with this principle.


What do you love most about your country?

I love the people, especially the poor. I appreciate the respect and trust that they have for people.  The social life is there.  They are together in time of great need despite their poverty. They try to embrace each other, help each other and share what they have. I have spent time with many families and this is what I have seen.

Meet the Team Monday – Tekabe Ambaw

This week’s Meet the Team Monday features Tekabe Ambaw, long time friend of Ordinary Hero and leader of our partner ministry, Hand in Hand. Hand in Hand both feeds and educates children living in impoverished communities. Read his interview below to learn more about him!

How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

I got to know Ordinary Hero in 2010. When they brought their very first mission team to Ethiopia, I was there helping another team in a Guest House they were staying at. I believe that God was the role player working behind the scenes and paving a way for the road he had envisioned for my life, as well as OH’s development, to bring Him glory.

Why are you passionate about helping people?

I grew up in an environment where poverty prevailed. I saw poverty prohibiting my friends from achieving their goals. I saw dreams and passions being quenched as a result of the deep level of poverty. I saw many children leaving school and joining the street life to find food. I saw these children missing their destiny due to hunger. Now after many years, being in a place where I can see the whole system of poverty and its effect, I know that I can do my own little part. I can make a difference in the life of a person. That is the call I have received. I now fully understand what it means to be close to a child, see his or her need and try to support that child so that they do not miss their calling. That is what I am passionate about now.

What do you love most about your country?

I love the social bond and how people help each other and depend on one another, love one another.

Meet the Team Monday – Bira Demeke

We have known Bira since he was a child and have watched him become a young adult and strong leader. Today, he works as our Guest House translator and trip translator. Read more below to learn more about Bira.

How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

I got connected with Ordinary Hero when they brought their first team to Ethiopia. When the team came to our community, Korah, my brother asked for sponsorship because we were in desperate need of help. Since then, I have gotten to be very involved with OH and have built many wonderful relationships. I get to serve along with every team that comes to Ethiopia.

Why do you have a passion for helping people?

I have the passion to help other people because I have lived most of my life in a poor way. I couldn’t always eat three times per day, I didn’t have good clothes or shoes, I have not always had hope or bright future, and I used to not to like school because I couldn’t understand the importance of education. I was only thinking and caring about what I could eat for the day. That was hard, but after I found Ordinary Hero this all changed.

Now, I want to change my peoples minds so that tomorrow they can live a better life. I don’t want to watch anyone go through the pain and struggle that me and my family have been through. I want people to know that education is the most powerful weapon to win poverty. I want to help young people to be successful in the future.

What do you love most about your country?

What I like about my country is there is freedom. I love my country’s culture because it is beautiful and diverse. And what I love about my country is that we are very welcoming. We make any tourist or visitor feel at home. Hospitality is our first priority. Ethiopia is a blessed country that is written even in the Bible and is one of the greatest countries in history.

What’s Next For Our Friends

As some may know, Ordinary Hero’s staff has been changing and transitioning the past few months as we grow as an organization. We have some new faces for you to meet, but we first wanted to acknowledge the friends that have been with us over the past few years, as they each move into different seasons of life. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the hard work and dedication of these faithful ladies. Their heart for the children and families was evident in everything they did, and will forever leave a mark on our organization. We are so thankful for you ladies.
Kelly Blevins will be taking a short season of rest with her family. She says, “They have been incredibly supportive during my years with OH and before I start my next venture I felt God leading me to pause and rest in Him with them.”
Beverly Soutas says, “I’m in year two of my three year MSW program, and loving my internship as a school social worker. Between classes, internship, parenting our 8 kids, and volunteering locally, life is crazy!”
Erica Simmons is taking time to spend more time with family and focus on homeschooling her son.
Hope Boyd has moved home this month from Ethiopia, and will be continuing her education at Austin Peauy while working part-time at a local coffee shop and serving at her church.
You will always be part of our OH family and we wish you all the best in what lies ahead!

Meet the Team Monday – Julianna Evans

Join us in welcoming our new Sponsorship Coordinator to the OH family. We love her already, and want YOU to get to know her too.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: background, passions, hobbies, family.

Born and raised in Northern California near the Napa Valley, the allure of Southern California led to me attending college at Point Loma Nazarene University, and subsequently spending the next 8 years in the beautiful San Diego sunshine. Upon graduating with a degree in psychology, I had the privilege of joining Make-A-Wish San Diego as their Senior Wish Coordinator, and spent 3 years granting wishes and creating magic for medically fragile children. During a brief move to Chapel Hill, North Carolina I worked as a Campaign Manager for a marketing agency, and learned the ropes of for-profit business and advertising. My husband, Chris’, emergency medicine residency training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center led us to Nashville in June of 2017, and we immediately fell in love with the great expanses of natural space, beautiful trees, and access to amazing music and restaurants alike. I enjoy discovering new coffee shops, playing with our cockapoo, Oliver, hiking waterfalls, cooking and baking, reading a good book, and finding myself on planes to new places.

What made you want to join the Ordinary Hero team?

After working in a for-profit company for a few years I knew in my heart the desire to return to non-profit was real and could not be ignored. There is something about working towards a mission that is greater than yourself, that leads to change you can see and experience, that provides a reward far greater than a paycheck. The mission of Ordinary Hero combines my passions for international travel, learning about other cultures, and serving those in need by focusing on “changing the world for one” with purposeful, impactful giving – giving that goes beyond a donation. Giving that has a sweet face, an adorable laugh, a warm hug. Giving that personifies joy. I am thrilled and excited to begin my journey with Ordinary Hero, and look forward to sharing in that joy with all of you!

Meet Our New Executive Director

We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to the Ordinary Hero team, Ellen Peterson, as our new Executive Director. In addition to a huge heart for global missions, Ellen brings with her a wide range of experience and expertise. She has been working in nonprofit for almost 20 years doing everything from fundraising and operations to communications and staff development. We did a short Q&A with Ellen so that you can get to know and love her like we do!

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: background, passions, hobbies, family.

I’m a proud Tennessean and was born and raised in Nashville, but after completing my degree at Auburn University, I moved to Houston, TX to work in ministry. What I thought would be a 1-2 year adventure, turned into almost 17 years in TX! Like they say, everything’s bigger in TX, including the hearts of the people. But once my husband, Grant, and I had children, we felt a tug toward a smaller, slower-paced place to raise our two kids, Megan and Brian. So, we packed up and moved back to Middle Tennessee in 2014. We love the two lane roads, driving past the horse farms, and watching our kids get dirty in the Little Harpeth River. I love a long hike with the dog, a good book, Auburn football, and live music. I also feel like I should sound way more interesting, but I’m really rather ordinary. Which is what drew me to Ordinary Hero in the first place!

  1. What’s your previous involvement with global missions?

 I became involved in Global Missions through the church where I worked in Houston. While I was working in Youth Ministry, the church created a new position to help support our global mission partners and I jumped at the chance to be involved. I became the Director of Global Missions and had the privilege of encouraging our mission partners around the globe, leading mission teams to serve in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Croatia, Budapest and Kenya. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life! Once you experience the vast creativity of God, seen in the diversity of his people and circumstances all over the world, you’re awakened to a new understanding of his love! As many of you involved with Ordinary Hero already know, you can’t encounter the people of Ethiopia and come home unchanged.

  1. What made you want to join the Ordinary Hero team?

As I mentioned, most days I feel pretty ordinary. We live in the ‘burbs’, and we’re raising two kids that do “burby” things like sports and scouts. It’s easy to forget that there’s a big, wide world out there that we’re called to serve and love. Ordinary Hero is about just that…ordinary people “changing the world for one.” I think that’s a message that applies to all of us; whether our heart is in Ethiopia or with our neighbors down the road.

  1. What are you most looking forward to in the future?

I’m most excited to meet all of you! Kelly and I are going to Ethiopia in November so I can meet the mission partners, see the children and families you are sponsoring, and get a feel for how all these pieces work. I can’t wait to see the faces of the people Ordinary Hero is impacting in Ethiopia, then come back to the US to keep encouraging you in our ministry together. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity; let’s go change the world for one!


So what does that mean for Founder, Kelly Putty? Though Kelly will no longer be leading as Executive Director, she will continue to lead from a Founder’s role, telling the Ordinary Hero story and advocating for children in need through speaking engagements and trips to Ethiopia.

Please join us in welcoming Ellen Peterson to the OH team!


What Will I Do With What I’ve Seen?

Guest Blog, by Kenneth Poindexter
“My last trip to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero was life changing. I was surrounded by a great team and a very strong leader, Kelly Putty, to follow and learn from her example on how to be an ordinary hero. Our experience was full of life with the kids, staff and most importantly God himself. There is never an ordinary trip with Ordinary Hero because it involves layers of heart, struggles, questions, topping off with the question of “What am I going to do?”; “How am I going to change the world for “One”.
During the trip we witnessed such suffering and poverty, but in the very middle of it was the joy of people who had nothing but leaned on the mighty army of God. My spirit was quickened to the things I was afraid of in life: If I was in the same condition and situation as the people that I was trying to serve, would I have the same gladness of heart as they do? Would I still praise God as they do?
This led me to make a stand, that I would not return home the same old way. There had to be a change in my life. I decided to make my prayer life a priority on behalf of those who are in Ethiopia, to thank God for their loving spirit. I also decided to go back to school for a Masters in Christian Leadership, so that God may use me for His Glory.
Thank you Ordinary Hero for giving me a freshness in my walk and my life.”
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