Dale Vermillion, founder of Mortgage Champions and president & CEO at Vermillion Consulting, Inc., shares his passion for charity and the thought process behind his nonprofit organization, “Mortgage Professionals Providing Hope”. Dale describes the significance of being proactive, intentional and understanding the heart of the foundation. Make sure to tune into this special, philanthropic episode of Pivotal Moments! 

Interview Excerpt

Kristin Messerli: So, you also have a charitable organization. I remember you talking about something humble heroes, but it’s called Mortgage Professionals Providing Hope, is that right?

Dale Vermillion: Correct, yeah. I’m wearing my Be A Humble Hero t-shirt.

Kristin Messerli: Oh, I love it. Yeah so, tell me what the precipice was for getting that started. And was there a moment leading into that?

Dale Vermillion: Well, there really was. And I tell this story a lot. My wife and I, back in 1998, we were just at church on a Sunday morning. And this organization came in to do a presentation for five minutes on this orphanage in India. And the guy who spoke, a guy named Craig Darling, I’ll never forget as long as I live. In the five minutes that he spoke, by the time he got to the end, my wife looked down and she was getting ready to call 9-1-1. She thought I was having a heart attack. I wasn’t having a heart attack. I was literally so captured by something that I saw either in the videos they presented, or the things that he told us about these kids that my heart was just literally… I was weeping uncontrollably because I saw something that just really impacted me in a powerful way. I mean, it was like God had just grabbing by the heart and squeezed it and said, “Here, I want you to pay attention to this.” And I did.

Dale Vermillion: So we walked out into the lobby, and there was a table of children’s pictures that you could sponsor for a dollar a day. And by sponsoring them for a dollar a day, 30 bucks a month, you basically fed, clothed, housed and educated them all the way through college. So, I looked at this picture this little four year old girl. Kristin, I’ll never forget it. Looked at them all, I said, “That’s the one right there.” Her name was Ti-ru Pat-oma. So, we sponsor her and went on with our lives.

Dale Vermillion: Fast forward four years later, 2002. I’m looking at this child’s picture for four straight years on our refrigerator, I come down for breakfast one morning. I sit down with my wife, Laurel, and I go, “I can’t take it another day.” She said, “Take what?” I said that picture of Tiru. She’s like, “You gotta meet her, don’t ya?” I’m like, “I do.” My wife knows me pretty well. And she said, “Well, when do you want to go?” I said, “Well, I was thinking maybe tomorrow.” She was so young, and I’ve traveled so much in my lifetime and this is just kind of how I am. She’s an incredible woman. And she looked at me and said, “All right, have a great trip. How long you think you’re gonna go?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I think I probably need two weeks ’cause it’s like two days to get there each way.” She said, “Okay, fine, go. Can’t wait to hear what happens.”

Dale Vermillion: So I get on a plane, 55 hours door to door, I fly to India the next day, get there almost two days later. And here was the amazing thing about it, we get there… Now this is planes, trains and automobiles. The van that I’m in pulls up to this T road. So a road that ended with a T at it. And the driver says to me, “You got to get out here.” And I’m looking around and I’m like there’s dirt and there’s a couple of huts. I don’t see anything else. I’m like, “Is there something wrong? Are we in the right space?” He goes, “Oh yeah, you’ll see when you get out.” I get out. I walk to the front of the vehicle. And all of a sudden I hear some noise, I look to the right down the T and there’s 4,000 children lined up, Kristin, both sides of the street, 2000, on each side in these blue uniforms, and they’re singing, and they’re throwing flower petals, and they’re shooting fireworks, and they’re waving these flags. And I’m thinking, “Wow, what’s this all about?”

Dale Vermillion: So I look at the translator [and] I go, “What’s the party all about?” He looks at me, he goes, “You.” I said, “Excuse me?” He said, “They came out to meet you. These children knew you were coming and they wanted to meet you.” Well, I’m the kind of guy, if somebody wants to meet me, I’m going to meet them. So I said, “Okay, here we go.” So, I started down the line and walked up to the first child I saw, about a five year old boy, walked up, gave a little hug, patted him on head. He looks me dead in the eyes, Kristin, and he says, “Uncle, uncle, what’s my name?” Now, I was kind of freaked out at first, because I didn’t know they spoke English. He didn’t, none of them did. They all spoke something called Telugu, but they knew that sentence in English.

Dale Vermillion: And I looked at him and I said, “I don’t know, what’s your name, son?” He said, “Raja.” I said, “Well, it’s nice to meet you Raja.” And when I said his name, Kristin, I mean literally his eyes lit up, his face lit up, his body posture changed. And I’m like, “That’s kind of interesting.” Gets to the next child same question, same response. Third child, fourth child. Finally, after four children in a row, I look at the translator, I go, “Okay, you got to help me out here. First off, how many children are there?” He says, “4,000.” He said, “You’re gonna be here a while at your pace.” I’m like, “Well, I got two weeks, I’m okay.”

Dale Vermillion: I asked him the more important question it was this, “Why are they asking me that question? Why not ask me for money, or toys, or gifts, or clothes, or food? Like these children need so much.” Kristin, the answer he gave me literally changed my entire life, changed the entire course of my life. This was 20 years ago, I was 40 years old at the time. Thought I knew a lot about life, thought I knew a lot about people. Here was his answer to me. He said, “Dale, these are nameless, faceless orphans. Their parents have either died. Or, worse yet, their parents are actually alive and have turned them over ’cause they can’t feed ’em, or house ’em, or cloth ’em. They’ve given them to us. The reason they ask you that question is simple, they want to know that they matter to you. They want you to say their name so they know they’re significant. So, they know they’re important.”

Dale Vermillion: I’m telling you, Kristin, I was a mess for about 10 minutes. When he said that to me it struck me like a lightning bolt. Here, I’d lived all these years and I missed the most important element of life in the human connection. And that is that every human being wants to know they matter. They want to know their life counts. They want to know they’re important. They want to know they’re value. They want to know that people care about them. All of us want that no matter who we are. That was a defining moment in my life because it did two things. Number one, it made me change my whole perspective on people, on human beings. It made me think differently about how we did things. Our corporate philosophy, and our sales philosophy, and leadership philosophy is built around what we call our others first philosophy. It’s based off of my life first, out of the Book of Philippians Chapter 2, 3, and 4 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition, or main conceit, but in all things with humility value others above yourself, looking out for their interests and not your own.”

Dale Vermillion: That has been very meaningful to me since that day I met those children because I realized that there are so many hurting people in the world that I never knew about. And therefore, that’s really become meaningful. But the way it really pivoted me in a huge way was it made me realize that all the money I was making, I was using for me and for my family. And there’s nothing wrong with taking care of your families. We want to do that. But I wasn’t really giving back. I wasn’t really making a difference. I mean, yeah if a kid showed up at my door, and knocked on the door, asked for money, I’d give it to him in a minute. It wasn’t that I wasn’t generous, but I wasn’t proactive about it.

Dale Vermillion: When I saw those children and spent those two weeks there and really dug in, and went into the villages, and saw the things I saw, the starvation, the struggles when I came back, and I’ll never forget this, here was the most pivotal moment maybe in my life, Kristin, I walked up to the doorstep, my wife answered the door. I opened up and she said, “How is your trip?” I said, “I got good news and bad news, which one you want first?” And she says, “Give me the good news.” I said, “The good news is I’m a different man. I’m a changed man. These children changed my life.” She said, “What’s the bad news?” I said, “The bad news is, we’re selling the house, we’re selling the cars, we’re getting rid of ’em. And we’re going to start giving our money to things that matter. We’re gonna change our whole mindset about how we live.” And we did. And we have ever since.

Dale Vermillion: And that’s when we started Mortgage Professionals Providing Hope. That’s when we decided it was time to start giving to causes. We started with India, we still support India. We built an orphanage out there for 550 girls that were sleeping in the dirt. They now have a home. We’ve supported lots of kids through that. We’ve worked with in Guatemala. We’ve housed over 300 families here in the United States, homeless families that we were able to put into apartments, or help them to get into a place to stay.

Dale Vermillion: So, it really came through a four year old child. All of that was the result of one four year old child in one picture and it changed everything. You talk about pivotal moments, it was a massive pivotal moment.

Kristin Messerli: Yeah, that is incredible. 

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