Improving life for children and families worldwide


Founder and Executive Director

Dawn Degenhardt has been dedicated to bringing children and families together through adoption for more than 30 years. While living in Cleveland, Ohio, she co-founded the Ohio chapter of COAC (Council on Adoptable Children) and was a pioneer in changing the foster care/adoption system. Dawn also co-founded Spaulding of Beechbrook, which is still in existence today placing special needs children. After moving back to her home state of Maine, she founded an internationally recognized adoption agency, which has placed more than 4,000 children. Dawn’s concern for children still in orphanages around the world prompted the development of many humanitarian aid projects. Wanting to devote her energy to this issue after retirement, Dawn, with family and friends, created The Degenhardt Foundation, now known as Aid for Kids. Dawn and her husband Ed are the parents of nine adopted children, now grown with their own families.

Director of Vietnam

Joy My Lien Degenhardt came to the United States in 1972 as an adopted child of Ed and Dawn Degenhardt. She grew up in Houlton, Maine and graduated from the University of Hawaii. In 1992, she returned to Vietnam with her mother to visit “her”orphanage. Overwhelmed with the desire to help other Vietnamese children in need, she directed the creation of an adoption and humanitarian aid program which continues today. Joy has successfully initiated and personally overseen many humanitarian projects for orphans, ill and handicapped people, and victims of natural disasters. Joy now lives in Vietnam, is fluent in Vietnamese and is the mother of three girls (one adopted). Joy’s role in Aid for Kids is to continue the humanitarian aid projects and develop new ones

Director of The “Other Maine” Program
Dannette Ellis has been a volunteer for various community organizations for many years. As Director of The “Other Maine” Project, she serves as the designated point of contact and the person to whom requests and questions about the project should be directed.  Her family members also volunteer their time and effort to serving our neighbors in need.
Outstadingly, Dannette coordinates the procurement annually of about $1 million (market value) of new, quality merchandise to distribute freely to thousands of low-income children/families in Maine through Non-Profit social service agencies and Title I schools.
Currently these distribution partners number about 150 in primarily rural areas of the state.
Assistant to the Executive Director

Marilyn volunteers in numerous capacities throughout the community of Houlton, Maine. She is educated in archaeology and has continued her education in many areas such as astronomy, history and geology. In 1999 she and her husband were awarded the Community Champion Adult Good Samaritans Award from the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Houlton. Before retirement, Marilyn was coordinator of the War or Peace: 1976 Project, University of Pennsylvania museum, directed by Buckminster Fuller. She was also coadministrator of the International Classroom Program in Philadelphia. Dedicated to peace in the home, community and world, Marilyn lives her beliefs in all that she does. Her children and grandchildren live in the Bangor, Maine area.

Volunteer/E Newsletter Editor, Fundraiser

Tim volunteers on behalf of impoverished children and their families in Vietnam. He serves as the Editor of Aid for Kids digital newsletters, a Consultant for digital fundraising projects, and manages the Aid for Kids membership database. In the summer of 2014, he worked in Vietnam assisting with several Aid for Kids projects. He helped to create the first ever Summer Camp in Cam Ranh and co-taught an intensive English learning class. He also assisted with dental missions in Ben Tre and edited a book originally written in Vietnamese on respecting different cultures – set during the Vietnam War. He is the father of two adopted children from Vietnam.

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