Walking with Orphans (WWO) was founded in 2010 under the original name of Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project by Melissa Perghel, a native of Snellville, Georgia, after working with orphans in Romania and Moldova and seeing first hand the great need for both physical and relational support among the high numbers of the orphaned and vulnerable populations in these countries. WWO grew out of a desire to help meet these multitude of issues. Since its founding, WWO has donated thousands of dollars of clothing and goods to orphans in need. It has also provided mental health services and spiritual mentorship to over 600 children living in institutions throughout Romania.
In 2015 Melissa moved to Bucharest, Romania to begin working full time with the missions organization Heart to Heart International (www.h2hint.org). She works daily with orphaned children to provide mental, emotional, and spiritual guidance to children in both private and state run institutions. In June of 2020 Melissa married Romanian national, Nicu Perghel. Together they share a vision of providing a family for orphans in Romania through foster care and adoption. They also want to provide mentorship programs, life skills training programs, youth groups and Bible classes, individual and group mental health sessions, and adoption support and caregiver training to at risk children throughout the Bucharest area.
In addition to being the Founder and President of WWO, Melissa Perghel, is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia. She is a certified Anger Management Specialist, a Trauma Competent Caregiver Trainer, and a certified Child and Adolescent Trauma Professional. She is also working towards becoming a Licensed Play Therapist. Melissa received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in the field of education. In 2013 she received her masters degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Capella University. Melissa worked as an educator for six years and then as an intake assessor and mental health therapist for three years in the state of Georgia.
Nicu Perghel serves as the Vice-President of Walking With Orphans and has been a volunteer with Heart to Heart International for over three years. Nicu has a unique perspective on the Romanian orphanage system as he grew up in an orphanage in Periș, Romania. Nicu currently works as a manager at an auto body repair shop and continues to work with children in private and state run institutions on the weekends and holidays. His hope is to begin serving full-time with Heart to Heart International by September 2020.