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GCHS Alumni: Where Are They Now? Harrison Oellrich

Class of 1970 alum named to the board of directors of Both Ends Burning, a non-profit international adoption advocacy organization.

New board member of Both Ends Burning, Harrison "Harry"  Oellrich with his wife, Roxanne.
New board member of Both Ends Burning, Harrison "Harry" Oellrich with his wife, Roxanne.
Patch interviews Harrison Oellrich from the Class of 1970

Garden City High School graduate Harrison Oellrich is concerned with these numbers:  

Highly vulnerable children:
• 115 million are engaged in hazardous work.
• 17.8 million have lost both parents.
• 13.2 million are internally displaced as a result of conflict or persecution.
• 70 million are affected by natural disaster.
• At least 2 million are in institutional care.
• 1.8 million are victims of sex trafficking or pornography.
• 5.5 million children are in forced labor.
•Unknown numbers are surviving without families.*

Oellrich's motto is: "If I can do this, anyone can!"

Combined, Oellrich has done amazing things to help save the orphaned children all over the world. He wants to be an agent of change, so "every child has an opportunity to live and grow up in a loving family."

"My story has been a bit unusual and it really got surreal after escaping 2 World Trade Center on 9/11, which really makes you realize that you are still on this planet for a purpose. It has shaped nearly everything that has come after as a result!" he said. "It really boils down to the fact that I've been given so many gifts in my life from a gracious and loving God that I feel compelled to do whatever I can in thanks and praise to leave the world a better place (hopefully) when I'm gone someday."

In the last 42 years after graduation from Garden City High School and Hofstra University with an MBA, Oellrich is currently the founding president and managing principal of Ottauquechee Risk Consultants, a risk management and reinsurance consulting company. He's advised members of Congress, the White House and major committees over the years on cyberspace, Internet and network security.

Now, Oellrich is also helping to advise Congress on the declining number of orphans being adopted and other policy issues. This desire to "leave the world a better place" and can-do attitude is being accomplished with his friend, Craig Juntenen.

A few days ago Oellrich was named to the board of directors of Both Ends Burning, the non-profit international adoption advocacy organization Juntenen founded. They both believe that adoption by loving families is the best solution for orphans of this world. Their goal is to fix the broken system of international adoption.

The brainchild of Juntenen, "STUCK" is a prize-winning documentary and is directed by Thaddeus Scheel (husband of Marcia Gay Harden). In the film five orphaned children who have major challenges, as well as Oellrich's three children, are interviewed. It debuted in 2012 at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival.  At the Heartland Film Festival "STUCK" won the People's Choice Award. The film was also screened for members of Congress.

This week Oellrich had a screening of "STUCK" at the Lutheran Church and a private one at his home this week. There is a tentative March event scheduled at Garden City Community Church as well.

Roxanne, Harry and their three adoptive children live here in Garden City, where he serves as a deacon at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection and is on the board of Lutheran Social Services of New York.

To volunteer or for more information on "STUCK" and the organization, visit BothEndsBurning.org.

(photos by Suzie Alvey)

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