Katy Bartos gazed down at a table filled with photos of children from around the world and thought about how her own life had transformed. After years of believing God didn't exist, she came to terms with a childhood impacted by a parent's alcoholism, rediscovered her faith, and found a church she loved.
During a 2001 women's conference in Connecticut, she thought about the deep joy she'd discovered in knowing she was valued and loved by God. She wanted that for every vulnerable child she saw in the World Vision display before her.
Katy found herself struggling to choose which child to help. In the end, she followed her heart and picked Abdul Mohammed, whose sad face and Muslim name spoke to her of the need for unconditional compassion in a post-9/11 world. "I wanted to bring good to a hard place after so much horror had happened."
That's the essence of Katy Bartos. She accepts God's challenges—even the difficult ones—with prayer, because the process of meeting them is evidence of God at work.
It's why, in her mid-40s, she undertook seminary studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. It's also why she went on to serve churches in the Connecticut countryside, minister to elderly nursing home residents, and hold the hands of dying hospice patients and their families.
Katy's passion for service prompted her to take on the challenge of writing a book. YayLife! The Joy of Finding the God Who Found Me (WestBow Press, 2018) blends scripture, stories, wit, and wisdom. Katy donates 11 percent of royalties she receives on book sales to World Vision.
She won't take credit for any of it. "The niche I naturally fall into isn't anything about me," she says. "It's about God and how he guides us into his purposes."
For Katy, who taught second grade earlier in her adult life, sponsoring Abdul felt like the perfect fit in her empty-nest years. "Not only was I in a helpful role to children," she says, "but I got to enjoy exchanging letters back and forth and watching him grow." When he reached his teens, Abdul left the program to support his orphaned brothers and sisters. Since then, Katy has supported four other children around the world.
In addition to treasuring the relationships with her sponsored children, she loves knowing that her gifts help empower their communities with essentials like clean water, nutrition, healthcare, and education. "World Vision doesn't just help a family have better food," she says. "They involve community leaders and ask them what would help them most in the long term. It gives them dignity to plan and work together."
Inspiring Love and Caring
Like many sponsors, Katy has navigated financial circumstances that threatened her commitment. For many years, she raised her two kids as a single mother. In 2008, after both of them had launched their own lives, she put her longtime home up for sale—just before the housing bubble burst. For months, her property languished on a stale market.
She had used World Vision's "grace periods" before, but this time she had another idea. I emailed a few friends, asking if any would take just one month of my sponsorship," she recalls. Four of them stepped up, later telling her how much it had blessed their lives.
Katy's enthusiasm has inspired countless friends and her adult daughter to sponsor children of their own. "I always tell people that even if they can only make a one-year commitment, or don't want to write letters, that's still one year of a child's life when they were loved by someone they'd never met, as they watched their community change in happy ways."
Gift of a Lifetime
Recently, Katy added a gift to World Vision in her will. "I grew up in somewhat humble circumstances," she explains. "My husband and I both worked, and we built a life where I had so much more than I thought I ever would. What better legacy could I leave than to have some of what was left at the end of my life go to places that can do so much with it?"
At its heart, it's the life lesson that began the day Katy chose Abdul: "The blessings bounce back bigger than we give them out."
Like Katy, you too can make a difference through a gift in your will. For more information and sample language to use, please read our guide to your will, or contact us at 1.800.426.5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.