Archive for the ‘Hope Spotlight’ Category

Hope for Hispaniola

It was July 2007 when we fell in love with Hispaniola. Lush green tropical forest sweeping down majestic mountains to touch azure seas-so captiviating…and a distant second to the wonderful people my husband and I have met in our five visits to the Dominican Republic side of the island. However, we may never have landed on that strip of paradise if not for the organization in today’s Hope Spotlight.

Just a few months before our first visit, friends moved to the north coast town of Sosua. Their reason for relocating? After several previous trips with their church to help missionaries on the island, they knew it was the place for them. So they signed on with New Missions (www.newmissions.org) to run a health center to serve the poor in the community.

So, it was through visiting John, Melissa, and their daughter, Kate that we were introduced to New Missions..which is fast becoming a beacon of hope in Sosua. In addition to a health center, they also have several schools and their churches are a central gathering place for the community…including the large expatriate community.

New Missions is not only present on the east side of the island…it’s presence is much larger and more established on the southwest side. In fact, they actually started the ministry in Haiti in 1983. Because of the passion and faith in God of founders George and Jeannie DeTellis, their family and co-laborers, New Missions now educates over 10,000 children in its schools, provide food for each student’s family, has twenty-four churches throughout the Leogane Plain, and staffs a large contingent of medical personnel-specifically nurses. The DeTellis family saw a desperate situation in Haiti and has worked in harsh conditions throughout the years to bring hope to a very hopeless region. Even through the earthquake earlier this year…in which New Missions lost a majority of their structures due to their proximity to the epicenter, New Missions helped people both in Haiti, and U.S. supporters, see that hope does remain in sight for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.       

Several really neat things are happening at, through, and for New Missions . I’ll be sharing more in the days and weeks ahead.

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Saturday is…

Logo courtesy of USA WEEKEND Magazine

“Make a Difference Day!” While every day is a new day for making the world a better place, this Saturday is officially set aside for us all to contribute at the same time. Know of a need that’s been tugging at your heart but you just haven’t had a moment to act? Then Saturday is the day! Whatever we decide to do, be it plant flowers at a community building, hand out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless, or help a friend paint his living room, let’s do kind deeds to make others smile.

Not sure what to do? USA WEEKEND Magazine, creator of “Make a Difference Day,” has a database filled with suggestions. You can search for an event near you or add details about your own project. After the day is complete, submit your event pictures and details to the magazine and you may win an award or $10,000 for your favorite charity!

To find out more information or download resources, visit www.makeadifferenceday.com.

So let’s join millions of people all over the world (2,000 people are expected to show up in El Salvador!); including celebs like Shaq and other NBA players, for one big day of sharing and caring together.

Blue Pumpkins

Photo by Byant Olsen (Flickr)

I love Fall…the cooler evenings, golden sunsets, and college football every Saturday! Where I live in Florida, the changes are a bit more subtle than the rest of the country, but the appearance of pumpkin patches are a definitive announcement of the season. Fields in front of churches, schools and farm stands suddenly “sprout” those heavy, orange squash, just begging to be carved into a scary faces and placed on a bales of hay by our front doors.

As I was driving around town and admiring a few freshly laid patches recently, I pondered the proceeds of this October purchasing tradition. Typically a nonprofit organizes and runs a sale and then uses the funds raised for their group’s activities. By itself, this seems reason enough to make my yearly pumpkin purchase from a local youth group or school instead of the grocery store.

Then I started to wonder, do any of these fundraisers take this yearly tradition a step further and designate their profits to benefit another person or organization in need? So home to Google I went…

And I found several stories…many churches use the funds to help local food pantries or to run their own food distribution ministries (excellent!)…but the story that really caught my eye is of an 8th grade Ohio student, Abby Pawlak. When Abby was age 10, she became concerned about other children who were experiencing abuse. Wanting to help out, she painted pumpkins blue-which is a reminder of the bruises abused children bare. After decorating the pumpkins with ribbons and cards of explanation, she sold the pumpkins and raised money for the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center. Three years later, the sale is an anticipated fall tradition. Abby also sells t-shirts and candles along with the pumpkins. View a video of Abby at abcloal.go.com – then click BluePumpkin.org to visit her website. 

Let’s shine the spotlight on Abby and give her a round of applause for helping us see that the colors of fall are not always golden. Sometimes we need to see a little blue to remember that not all people feel like appreciating sunsets.

Hope for Ghanian Kids

“If you want to be our friends, be careful…you will probably end up serving in another country or state.” My husband and I jokingly tell people we meet. Actually, we’re only half joking. It seems many of our friends do move away to work for missions, aid organizations or ministries. While we miss them, we are thankful we get the chance to visit them. Plus, those visits have taken us to some very unique places-and given me the inspiration for this blog!

One of those places was Ghana. Last November, we had the privilege of visiting friends in this country in West Africa. Alan and Tywonn spent most of 2009 living and working in Accra, the capital city. Thrilled to visit this “new to us” land, we enjoyed ten wonderful days with our friends. As a part of our time with them, I had the chance to visit Tywonn’s special project.

Tywonn, who is a registered nurse, discovered Beacon House orphanage soon after moving to Accra. They needed nursing help and so she spent a few days each week volunteering to care for the children. She took the children to medical check-ups and prepared the orphanage staff to care for each children’s unique physical needs. Several of the children are HIV positive, while others have a host of illnesses…many of which are the result of malnutrition or limited prenatal care. The children stole my heart and I instantly saw why they were Tywonn’s delight.

Fast forward…

After returning to the United States last December, Tywonn missed working with the kids. So she stayed in touch with the orphanage director and arranged a return visit. After much anticipation, she left yesterday for the journey back across the Atlantic to the country, children, and friends she fell in love with last year.

And Tywonn will not be traveling light…Reality, The Church, in Lake Mary, Florida, has formed a relationship with Beacon House with Tywonn’s help. They gathered and donated enough supplies (formula, cloth diapers, diaper cover, baby clothing, toothpaste, and much more) to fill Tywonn’s two suitcases (total weight=100 pounds)! The orphanage depends on donations such as the one Reality is sending-I know they will be excited to receive the gift!

After delivering the gifts, Beacon House will keep Tywonn busy. Giving out hugs, bandaging booboos and shuttling kids to the clinic…her skills are invaluable to the children and staff. She will also help welcome an HIV positive toddler who will be arriving during her stay. She will be taking the child for a full medical checkup and help the staff determine the best ways to care for the child’s needs-they appreciate having a trained nurse deciphering the doctor’s treatment plan!

Tywonn’s trip will last ten days. I will post her story and pictures, plus more about Beacon House, when she returns…so stay tuned!

Remember the Gulf

Over the summer months, I watched the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Did you? We couldn’t miss it! While the oil was gushing, news crews broadcast the impact hourly, and then daily-we even had a live deep sea video feed! We knew the beaches were in danger. Animals were losing their habitat. People were losing their livelihood and food source. We listened to the governors and mayors in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We watched Jimmy Buffett’s benefit concert on the Alabama beach (some of us several times-I admit). We were aware of the problem because it was all over the news. Now that the well is capped, the news coverage has dried up as well. 

 But the damage remains…and we should not forget. While the oil may be mostly offshore, (and I’ve visited several beaches in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle since July and can assure you they are oil free and open for business), tourism is still stinging from the negative publicity. Shrimpers and fishers are still unsure if their catches are safe…as are the hesitant consumers.   

 All this may seem gloomy, but hope is present-let’s take a look…

Several individuals and organizations are trying to keep the catastrophe in public sight. Last Saturday, an article on Yahoo News examined the withdrawal of public interest from the Gulf of Mexico situation. You can read the article here. The article features an interview with Dave Edmunds, who recently started Takingbackthegulf.com in an effort to keep the ongoing effects and recovery efforts in front of the public’s attention. Visitors to the site can submit benefit event information or sign up to volunteer with recovery efforts.Turtle

Fundraising seems to be the best way to help the Gulf Coast…and two New Orleans t-shirt vendors are doing just that. Fleurty Girl (a.k.a. Lauren Thom), who sells New Orleans inspired t-shirts, jewelry and accessories, has created an adorable “Rescue Me” t-shirt. The shirt features an adorable, (yet manly enough for guys to wear)  turtle. Best of all-this girl thinks of every angle-no petroleum products were used in the printing process (love it!). Even more impressive, Fleurty Girl is giving 100% of the shirts’ net proceeds to Audubon Institute’s Louisiana Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Program to rescue marine animals impacted by the oil spill. Take a look- Fleurtygirl.com. The shirt is also in kids’ sizes. Check out the “Rescue Me” earrings, too!

Blake Haney and Patrick Brower’s Dirty Coast (referencing New Orleans’ location between the East and West Coasts-and that its the land of dirty rice and oil drilling), has also produced a benefit t-shirt. Part of the profit from the sale of this shirt is going to help out the area fishers. This shirt also displays a fun design: Dirtycoast.com.

I love it when businesses show they care about the world around them-and these two shops are doing an excellent job. Let’s take a moment to give them, and  Dave Edmunds, a round of applause for showing us hope in the midst of catastrophe. And maybe we can even help out and purchase a really neat shirt (or two)!