This beautiful story of full-circle restoration begins in 1972 when a baby was discovered clutched in the arms of her mother on the side of the road desperately seeking life through suckling on her dead mother's breast. This child was given a second chance at life when a South Vietnamese soldier placed her in a straw hat and took this baby to Sacred Heart Orphanage in Da Nang and gave her the name Tran Thi Ngoc Bich or “PRECIOUS PEARL”. Soon after arriving at the orphanage Air Force Tech Sgt. James Mitchell, a chaplain's assistant, who frequently brought clothes and supplies to the orphanage fell in love with Precious Pearl, and he and his wife adopted her and gave her the new name of Kimberly Mitchell.
In 1991 tragedy struck Kimberly again. She had applied to the Naval Academy and was accepted, but sadly, two weeks before leaving Kimberly’s dad was struck by lightning and died while trying to bring a newborn calf into a barn as a storm was approaching. As a young adult, Kimberly experienced more than her share of life and death, and yet it was through these tragedies that she learned the value of compassion and kindness from strangers. Kimberly went on to have a distinguished US Navy career that lasted 17 years. She became a Lieutenant Commander and was hand selected by the secretary of the Navy and the White House to serve as a White House Military Social Aide and by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to be the Deputy Director of the office of Warrior and Family Support.
Today Kimberly is the CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego, a nonprofit organization which serves thousands of wounded and homeless Veterans. The VVSD is dedicated to the promise of “Leave No One Behind”. Kimberly’s heart of kindness and compassion impacts many veterans in our country suffering from PTSD, addictions, and the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life. As the CEO who oversees the lives of many wounded Veterans, she speaks LIFE over those that are in darkness and encourages them to never quit because of the two brave soldiers never quit on her, and who courageously sacrificed their lives so that she could live and have an abundant life.
In 2011, as a surprise 40th birthday gift, Kimberly’s friends reunited her with the nuns from the Sacred Heart Orphanage. By then the Vietnamese government had destroyed the orphanage records, but fortunately, the nuns had memorized the details of every baby and they clearly remembered the unique story of Precious Pearl. Two years later Bao Tran, the soldier that had found Precious Pearl, read about Kimberly’s homecoming to Vietnam. Bao reached out and the two were miraculously reunited. He recounted his story of how he found her and wanted to bring her to a safe place of refuge. It turns out that he had been searching for Precious Pearl for decades. Bao’s act of kindness changed the trajectory of Kimberly’s life which has had the ripple effect on thousands of other Veterans lives.
Many times, life starts out as a tragedy and is filled with pain and trauma, yet in the middle of life's darkest storm, a PRECIOUS PEARL is being formed deep down at the bottom of the ocean, eventually to be brought to the surface, cut from its hard, crusty shell, so that it can be seen and shine with all its beauty for the world to see.