Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Generations of Giving


Introduction note from Steve Schmidt, Development Manager, Upper Midwest Office:

The following benefactor story comes to us from a sibling of the Konz Family, Ms. Judith Koeppler.  When I first reached out to Ms. Koeppler I asked how she first became involved with NPH and she shared one of the most beautiful stories of family-philanthropy I have heard to date.  To honor her parents and her family I said I would follow-up with a few photos from NPH.  In the picture, I had the honor of presenting the Ms. Koeppler and the Konz Family with this photo book.  In this article Ms. Koeppler tells that story of their family-philanthropy and how the joy of philanthropy continues to be passed down in her family, generation to generation, benefitting organizations like NPH.  Please enjoy this wonderful story! 


Written by Judith Koeppler on behalf of the Konz Family:

When you think of a family tradition, especially during the Christmas holidays, you think of eating, celebrating, trees, lights and togetherness. Our family has added a new tradition and that is philanthropy.

It all started with Anne and Larry Konz and their strong commitment to their Catholic faith, Catholic education and their love of travel. They traveled all over the world, but their favorite country was Mexico. They loved the countryside, the people and the culture. Prior to one of their trips in the late 1950’s, Father Ray Zagorski, a priest at their church in Appleton, WI, told them about Father Wasson and the orphanage that he established. They made plans to meet him and see the orphanage. As always, they brought a couple of duffel bags full of clothes to give to the children. They were impressed and stayed in the local village to learn more about Father Wasson’s vision and decided that they like the philosophy he embodied for the families of the children. All children from one family would never be separated. All of the children were educated and worked on the farmland to help produce food and embrace communal living.

The Konz family quickly grew to a family with nine children. The entire family learned from early on that you cherish your family and bring sunshine to those less fortunate. It can be a smile, a bouquet of flowers or a home cooked meal.

The meeting of Father Wasson and the children started a friendship that lasted for years. Anne and Larry sponsored one little boy for years who finally graduated from College. Judie and Maribeth, two of their kids, were fortunate to meet this young man in Mexico City in 1980. He was all smiles and so very grateful for the opportunities the Konz’s made possible for him. How proud they were to meet him.

Anne Konz passed away in 2001 and in memory of her giving spirit, the family established the Granny Annie Fund through the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Anne embraced philanthropy in a simple way – with “heart”. A women of profound faith, she always considered others before herself. Her authentic concern for humanity continues to thrive in the extended Konz families. Donations are made throughout the year by family and friends. Every Christmas Eve they gather together and collectively discuss charitable opportunities and decide worthy programs to fund. Anne’s giving spirit was quietly contagious and is now embodied in the hearts of three generations that follow in her legacy. Her favorite NPH, quickly has become everyone’s favorite because of what it meant to her and Larry. Their philanthropic spirit has spread through the generations.

As the families gather together this Christmas Eve they will decide on her behalf where the dollars generated from her fund will benefit. They will capture the true meaning of what it feels like to give.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Finding family at NPH Guatemala...

Below is a reflection written by our very own Ross Egge, Development Manager in the Northwest NPH USA office about his recent trip to the NPH home in Guatemala!!

This past July, I had the extraordinary opportunity to travel to our home in Guatemala with a group of amazing people from the NPH Northwest community. Though NPH has been part of my life for many years, I am never more inspired and continually impressed with the work and dedication being afforded to these children and communities then when seeing it and sharing it with others. For many in our group, it was the first trip to an NPH home, for others it was a long-awaited return, for everyone it was an experience to remember, and an impactful reminder of the positive change we get to be part of with the NPH family.

The children, so loving, so fun, so very much children being children. It was so fun to see some of the godchildren meeting their sponsors from the Northwest for the first time. Some on our trip have made trip down many times and were able to relish in how their godchildren have grown, and catch up with the children and staff they have built relationships with over the years. 

Where the full weight of what this trip was for me and for those in our group cannot be shared in words or pictures, the love shared among our group and with the children and staff of NPH Guatemala is fully present for all of us upon our return as we attempt to transfer the intangibles of what we experienced to our daily lives, making better a world so desperate for healing, and seeking new ways to support and encourage the beautiful children of our NPH family. I want to thank all our participants for joining us on this journey and for being an inspiration to me in the way you became family, not only to the children of NPH, but to one another. That is truly the power of being in a place so fully infused with love for others. Thank you! 
 
 
 
 

Princesses and Soccer Players at NPH Nicaragua...

Below is a reflection written by NW supporter Lisa Casterella about her recent visit to the NPH home in Nicaragua! 

Jumping rope, learning new soccer moves, eating Gallo Pinto, playing with toy cars and just being with the pequeños (Spanish for “little ones”) are some of the images that I associate with my stay at NPH Nicaragua.

This large campus which houses 300+ children along with 190 dedicated staff is found in the lush green setting of SW Nicaragua. 16 cinder block homes, a large covered outdoor auditorium, soccer field and cement play area became a part of our daily routine for the time that our Seattle youth group spent in rural Jinotepe. 

While many of the NPH students were away on break during our stay, we had the unique opportunity to bond with the children and NPH University students who remained. The adult visitors became “Mama” and “Papa” to little girls dressed up like princesses and boys who loved soccer and card games. Laughing at our attempts at Spanish, the pequeños were eager share their food if they thought we needed more. One day I “accidentally” dropped a piece of cheese to feed to a hungry dog at my feet. The little boy next to me offered me his piece without hesitation!  

These beautiful children share toys and clothing. They eat and pray together in their respective homes. NPH is their family. Executive Director, Marlon Velazquez explains, “When a child comes to NPH, he is never made to feel like the new kid. I say to the other kids, ‘Victor, this is your sister Carla or your brother Manny.’” The children are now part of a big family which will nurture them with patience, compassion and education. Marlon continues, “I tell the children, if you see your brother or sister crying, you sit down and cry with them. They are your family.”  

Joseph, a high school sophomore, understands that once you become a family, “You literally have to forgive and accept your family and that’s what they do at NPH.”

All of us plan to bring the spirit of NPH back home. Bennett, a high school junior who calls the trip “transformative,” vows to “love my friends and family unconditionally, especially my own brother who has always been there to protect me.” We left with a full heart, knowing the importance of our new family.
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pilot Laptop Computer Project at NPH Mexico

NPH USA's first pilot laptop project was the result of a collaboration between Gilbert Classical Academy (GSA) and NPH sponsors, Teresa Ventoza from the SW region and Sarah McNary from the NW region. It was coordinated with and received enthusiastic support from Belinda Roda of the SW office.

It started with Teresa’s and Sarah’s idea of providing a laptop to second year service students headed to university and blossomed through a conversation at the Southwest Region’s NPH Gala. Mr. Erik Gilman, who teaches service learning to high school students at GSA, was sitting at a table with Teresa. Erik heard about the idea and suggested that this need could be a perfect match for a class project at GSA in partnership with Arizona State University’s (ASU) STEM service learning program. Four students from the junior class of GSA, under the direction of Mr. Gillman championed the project and decided to come up with a way of obtaining computers that could be refurbished for the students in the NPH home in Mexico.

The STEM service learning is a program sponsored by ASU. To qualify for the program, students find a project that helps a non-profit organization, write a proposal to obtain funds, and, once approved, work on completing it and delivering it to the organization. The GSA students enthusiastically embraced the project and did a wonderful job of refurbishing laptops and loading them with software tailored for the university-bound recipients. It truly was a labor of joy and connection across these two student populations that enriched both groups.

Six young women benefited from this initial collaboration and were overjoyed with this tangible support for furthering their education. While this was an initial pilot project, the need exists for more laptops to support other university-bound students and this presents an opportunity for future projects. For more information, contact Belinda Roda at
broad@nphusa.org.

"It is truly a joy and a privilege to be part of the NPH family and to be able to encourage these remarkable young people to continue their education. My darling Goddaughter is one of the young women who received a computer and I know that she, as well as the other recipients, felt elated by this expression of support and confidence in them as they take this next important step in their education. Huge thanks and kudos to Erik Gillman and the students at Gilbert Classical Academy for making Teresa's and my concept a reality. It would be wonderful if we could build on this promising beginning." - Sarah McNary

"It was a privilege to be part of the link between two groups of young people who are doing what they can to make the world a better place. My hope is that this pilot computer program inspires other groups to reach out across borders to help each other." - Teresa Ventoza
 
 
 
 
 


 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Without this trip I would have never realized the true joy that comes from giving back to others...

Below is reflection written by sponsor Isea Kelley after returning from a youth trip to NPH DR this April.

On the morning of April 14th, I arrived at the airport with my father and my close friend to head off on a weeklong service trip to NPH DR. Little did I know that the week ahead was going to change my life forever. When we arrived in the DR, we walked outside as a wave of heat hit us all, and with a sigh of relief we all secretly appreciated the warm weather we hadn’t experienced in months. We got on the bus and rode through the streets of San Pedro to the NPH home. This was the first time I had seen such poverty - there were families of five packed on small mopeds and cows eating garbage bags on the side of the road. About 20 minutes later we drove through the gates of NPH. We got off the bus, put our things in the visitor's house, and took a tour. Although it felt somewhat awkward at first to be in a new place with new people, I loved every minute of walking around the home with hot rain hitting my face.

The next morning we were eager to spend time with the kids! Upon arriving at the boy’s house a little boy wrapped himself around my legs and would not let go. He was playing on the ground with sticks and pulled me down by his side to play! I didn’t realize this at the time but this little boy, who I now sponsor, changed me forever. We spent the rest of the day building and flying kites together! It was eye opening to see the kindness and openness these boys, and all of the children at NPH, have for each other and for us as visitors.

During the week we helped out around the NPH home and in the batey. Singing classic Disney songs at the top of our lungs, we loaded giant sticks in a truck and mixed concrete. Working each day in the batey was a way for us to help and meet other children and adults. While we were mixing concrete, strangers would walk by and give us a cheerful “hola”. These small gestures at both the NPH home and in the batey filled my heart – as sharing a wave or a hello with a stranger in the states is rare. Never in my life had I had more fun, than when we made an assembly line passing heavy buckets of concrete to one another while listening to Spanish Pop music. The rest of the week, when we weren’t working, we spent time with the children. There was endless amounts of playing games, dancing, making kites, playing catch, and drawing. Although all of these things seem simple, the time we spent together with the children was so valuable and special. 

As the week came to an end it was heartbreaking. Endless amounts of hugs were given all around and we had to say our final goodbyes. A few tears rolled down my cheek as I said goodbye to Jose (the boy I met on the first day), some were tears of joy and some of sadness. Joy because I was so incredibly thankful to have been given this opportunity and to meet such kind and amazing people, but sadness because I knew that I would have to wait so long to come back. My time at NPH DR was a time that I will cherish for the rest of my life, but I know that I will hopefully be able to go back sometime soon. This trip changed me for the better - without this trip I would have never realized the true joy that comes from giving back to others. I am extremely thankful for this experience, the children, the people I met, and the friends I made both in the DR and right here at home!
 



Monday, July 10, 2017

There is a pure happiness and love at the NPH homes that lifts me up…

Below is reflection written by sponsor and Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Junior Board member Angel Deschamps after returning from her recent trip to NPH Dominican Republic.

I first travelled to the NPH Dominican Republic home on a school service trip over a year ago. I was afraid that my Spanish wasn’t good enough to develop relationships, but as soon a little boy came up and asked my name, all my worries went away. I learned that language barriers are something you can overcome, and quickly decided to sponsor this confident, mischievous little boy who had stolen my heart. I love that our relationship has been built on memories shared, and not stories told. When I returned this year, I was officially a sponsor, not just a visitor. Reunited with my godchild, we were excited to spend time together – eating lunch together and spending time in the park. My godchild seemed so proud that I was his madrina – sharing this with all his friends and caregivers – and I could not be happier to be sponsoring him!

NPH has given so much to me. What really strikes me is that the kids are so happy at NPH. I've now visited both the NPH Dominican and Honduran homes and have found that although the children may come from difficult backgrounds, they all still manage to smile and enjoy life. When I am at an NPH home my troubles fade and everything is put in perspective. The children are grateful to have a place to call home and to have people who care about them. There is a pure happiness and love at the NPH homes that lifts me up. I am now a member of the Junior Board in my region, proudly wear NPH bracelets, and tell anyone and everyone who will listen to me about my time at NPH. I do it in hopes to give back at least a little to the enormous gift NPH gave me. I'm extremely grateful to NPH and to my godchild who continues to show me what really matters in life.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mariela's story...

Hola everyone.

I am Mariela from NPH Mexico. Please excuse my English…those ESL classes are working slowly for me. 

I am grateful for this opportunity to be in front of you. The people who make NPH possible, without knowing us, you have decided to be part of our life. 

I would like to share a little of my story with you.

So, how did I arrive at NPH? One of the most impactful moments of my life was when my father abandoned us, and my mom died from cancer. I was 7 years old. 

My sisters (Anahi) and (Lucero) and my brother, Christian, and I were left with my Aunt Victoria, who was a single mother. She already had 2 children, one who was disabled. I cannot imagine how hard it was for her to take care of all of us. 

I remember the day when she told us about NPH—how it would be better for us there and that she would always support us. I was 8 years old, and I did not understand what was going on, but I was scared. 

When I came to NPH with my sisters and brother, it was so different. There were so many children and the house was so big! 

Time passed and things changed, and after a while, everything was great. I had many friends at school and we played every day. Sometimes, I wondered where my family was and why I was in NPH. 
 

I just wanted to have my mother and father. 

A “normal” family. 

But then I realized that all the people that were around me at NPH, were now my family. They were the people with whom I share a story, share a life, and that no matter what our past is, we are now making a new story, together. 

At NPH, I kept studying and after high school, we all give 2 years of service to say thank you to NPH before going to university. During my years of service, I took care of a group of 50 girls between 9 and 12 years old. It was really hard work – but during this time I learned that even though I was still young, if you act with love you will be an inspiration for others.

When I thought about the university, I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life. 

Where did I want to go? What did I want to do? Archaeology? History? Administration…well, in the end, I chose Dentistry. But why? This is a good story…
One day when I was 17 years old, I did something wrong—though now I can’t remember what it was. As a result, I had to help the dentist at NPH in the mornings for one year. Although I did not like helping at first, I loved helping the dentist so much, that it became my dream to be a dentist. 

I studied dentistry at the university in Monterrey in northern Mexico for 6 long years…and I graduated one year ago, right before I came to Seattle.  

It was not easy, but I did it and now I am Dr. Mariela Jaime!
 

Now I am here in Seattle for the NPH Leadership Institute. Studying, growing as a person, being responsible, and trying to learn how to be a leader in my community. It is an experience that has allowed me to grow personally and professionally, and it has given me the opportunity to share with my brothers and sisters from other countries.

I have chosen to become an inspiration for my younger brothers and sisters, following the legacy of our beloved Fr. Wasson—who founded NPH. I am only a small part of the seeds that he planted and 

I know he is proud of us all. 

When I return to my country, a new stage will begin in my life, where I am going to face the world outside NPH. It scares me, but I know have the skills, values, and family to succeed. 

I want to end by taking this opportunity to say thank you for believing in NPH, supporting me, and being part of my life. Thank you for helping to give us opportunity and education. NPH really transforms lives, and I am an example of that. 

If you have any questions, feel free to talk to me or the other leadership students here. We would love to answer any questions you have. 

Thank you!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saravia's Journey

Below is a speech by Saravia, a young woman from NPH Honduras who is currently in the Seattle Leadership Institute and is goddaughter to our Northwest Regional Director, Katie Hultquist! Saravia gave this speech recently at a friend and fundraising event in Portland! Check it out!
Hi everyone! My name is Saravia and I am from Honduras.  I want to tell you a little bit about my experience with NPH.
WHY NPH?
When I was 8 years old, my mom died.  Bad…. YES.  But it really had no effect on me.  She had not been in the picture in years, because she had gone to the United States.  In the U.S. she had another daughter, and only returned to see me and my sister a few times each year.  My Father was not around either, at least not yet, not until I turned 16.
 
I was raised by my stepfather, then my aunt Emoly.  When Emoly died, my grandmother came down from the United States to take care of me, my sister Maria and 2 cousins, Allan and Johana.
Eventually, my grandmother returned to the United States to take care of my younger sister. 
Now, all my family lives in the US, except for the 4 of us.
After my grandmother left, the government stepped in and placed us in NPH. 
I was 12 at the time. 
NPH…,  Not my family.
At first, NPH looked like a place to take advantage of.  Anything and everything I could put to my use was for me. 
However, this attitude I had eventually drove me to escape.  This place was way too confining, too many rules.  So I finally… ran away.
Lucky for me my father took me in for a couple months.  I did anything and everything I wanted.  No rules.  That is what I thought I wanted.
Now I was truly on my own, and I thought this was good – being free. No studying, No responsibilities.  Awesome.
 
But the reality was different. Sometimes freedom meant danger, and sometimes it meant there was no direction and no opportunity.
One day I woke up and I asked myself, what am I doing with my life?  Is this it? 
No, I needed more.
I wanted more.
Those 4 years being at NPH DID change me.
I’ve seen what you can achieve. 
There is a lot more to life.
I picked up the phone and called a social worker at NPH.

They told me I could return to NPH if I spoke with the directors of the house. Not just the National Director of Honduras, but also the directors of all the boys’ and girls’ houses. 
Lucky for me, they took me back.  
I am thankful that I had the guts to call that social worker and ask to come back.
From that day forward, I changed.
I started attending leadership meetings. My house, Hijas del Pilar, ended up choosing me to represent them at these meetings.
But…, it’s not the way you would think. 
I was chosen because I represented something different.
I had run away. 
I was a taker.    
I was a negative leader.
Now there’s a term for you, a negative leader. 
How did I feel about this? 
At first I was disappointed.  Then I realized this was the person all my brothers and sisters knew.
They did not know the NEW… me.  They could not relate to me, but I would let them know through my actions and my words that I had changed. 
That I was one of them. 
That I belonged.
That this was my family and my home.
Sure, I had my biological family, but now NPH was my family also.
The leadership group changed me.
I started to look at life differently.
I began to take on more responsibilities.
I became aware of the role I play in NPH and in our greater society.
I never could have dreamed it would happen, but I graduated from high school.
This is one of the greatest celebrations of my life.
I felt proud.
Everyone I cared for was there to see it.
My future was looking up.
Maria Teresa, my sister, got her High school degree and moved out of NPH. My two cousins left NPH and started their own family.
Only myself still in NPH. 
After seeing what happened with my sister and cousins, both leaving NPH, I was going to stay with NPH.
I could see that people who leave often don’t realize their own potential.
I realized what I wanted, where I want to go, and NPH would help me with that journey.
When I finish my year here in Seattle, I plan to move onto my next dream, university and an advanced degree. My interests are criminology, electrical engineering or even going to Haiti to learn about disaster relief.  Right now, I can’t decide so I’ll just figure it out next year when I go home.
In addition, I want to find a way to return my services to NPH.   
I have been blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime, maybe even 2 lifetimes… given my situation.  The understanding and willingness shown to me only reinforces in me the NPH way. 
To all of you, from me,
and on behalf of my fellow leadership students and all my brothers and sisters in NPH,
thank you for your support. 
You make all this possible.
If you have any questions, feel free to talk with me or one of the leadership students.
We would love to answer any questions for you.
 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

NPH has taught me the value of family, friendship, service, and the importance of God in our lives.

Below is reflection written by sponsor Claire Schnorr from the MA-NE Region after she visited NPH Guatemala this spring.
 
After visiting NPH Guatemala, I now view the world with a different and more grateful perspective. NPH has taught me the value of family, friendship, service, and the importance of God in our lives. The children at NPH embrace these values fully, as well as excelling in academics and athletics. They are grateful for their supporting family at NPH, and give back to their family through service. The care they demonstrate for their home has inspired me to give back to my own community. 
 
It's amazing how one child can truly make such a change in your life. While visiting I was able to meet my godchild, who couldn't have been more gracious and loving when sharing her NPH family with us. Within two days I felt welcomed and close with members of the NPH community. I now write to my godchild frequently, as well as think often and so fondly of the rest of the children at NPH. I am so grateful to now be a part of the NPH Guatemala family! 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Current International Volunteers!

It’s time to highlight our current International Volunteers! Meet the 28 wonderful contributors to our NPH USA mission. SO MANY thanks to everyone!
 
MEXICO
 
Danica Sanders, Nurse, NPH Mexico
My experience volunteering at NPH Mexico is difficult to put into words. Every day is filled with hugs, laughs, talks, play, many chores (at times cries and tantrums), but most importantly love. I think before I came I didn't realize the impact I could have on the kids, or the impact they could have on me. I truly cherish every moment with the them, whether it be a one on one talk with one of the girls in my section before bed, making goofy videos, helping with homework, hanging out in patio on the weekends, braiding hair (mainly them braiding mine or teaching me), or snuggling up and watching a movie. They are so open, honest, accepting and loving. I know I am going to miss the million "holas" while walking through the home. I am going to miss hearing my nickname Danicoco (which has spread throughout house) shouted from all different directions. I am going to miss the special moments of watching siblings hang out and play together during their free time. And above all, I'm going to miss the endless beautiful smiles and hugs. I am lucky to have been able to be present in a small, but meaningful part in their lives. They inspire me every day and this experience will forever be with me. I have heard once you are part of the NPH family, you always stay. I feel lucky to now be a member and be able to watch my family here in Mexico grow.
 
Kaleigh Barret, Women’s Empowerment, NPH Mexico
If I had to pick one word to describe my experience as the Girls Empowerment Coordinator, I would choose transformative! I could never have imagined just how much my views would be challenged, broadened, and transformed to include the perspectives of these amazing young women. These girls are so wise and talented, and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to help them find their inner greatness. I am so proud of who these girls were, who they are today, and who they will be in the future!
 
Aaron Ruder, Caregiver and Communication Officer, NPH Mexico
My time at NPH has definitely been challenging to say the least. But when I look back at all the amazing memories I have made, I know it has all been worth it. From jumping into the pool fully clothed with my section to helping create a terrifically spooky haunted house, these are the times I will remember far into the future when I'm asked how I spent my twenties. Though my time here is wrapping up quickly, I still am eager to see what surprises the next few months have in store and how I can attempt to make my mark at NPH México.
 

 
Katrina Christian, Librarian/Caretaker, NPH Mexico
NPH is a place in which I have experienced more emotions than I ever thought possible. The contrast between utter exhaustion and frustration of a long day followed by the pure joy and overwhelming excitement of a sweet hug and giggle has become my norm over the past year, and I couldn’t be more content. At this place in the middle of rural Mexico, I have found new friends, true happiness, boundless love, and have come to know a more profound sense of myself. Reflecting on the past months and the few weeks I have left, I am filled with love for the messy, giggly, crazy little ones I have spent the better part of a year with, and although I might not miss the surprise cockroach, this place and these people, both little and big, will always have a huge chunk of my heart.
 
Sierra Kaptain, Caregiver, NPH Mexico
No matter how horrible they may have misbehaved during the day, my girls always give me a goodnight hug that is guaranteed to be bigger than the tantrum they had thrown earlier. And the hugs are always accompanied by 'I love you. Please don't go. Dream with your family. See you tomorrow.' Moments like those show me that all the children want here is to love and be loved. I had never imagined I would receive just as much of it as I give back to them, nor did I think I would be called mommy hundreds of times a day. We, as volunteers, may not be a biological parent, grandparent, or sibling to any of the kids, but we love and treat every one of them as if they were our own - and that to me makes NPH a pretty special place. 
 
 
Joey Schiappa, Swim Lesson Instructor & Photographer, NPH Mexico

Whitney Janicki, Caregiver, NPH Mexico
 
 
GUATEMALA
 


Katie Nelson, SLP Assistant, NPH Guatemala
I am working as the speech therapist in Guatemala. I could make a long list of the incredible moments I've had in the past 8 months here. There are little moments every day I look forward to like walking lazily arm in arm with a couple of the girls and chatting, passing the littlest kids every morning on the way to school and saying good morning to each one, and hugging goodnight to the girls in my home every night before I head back. These are the moments that make the feeling of this being home undeniable.
Brittney Byrd, Nurse, NPH Guatemala
I am three months into my year as a volunteer nurse at NPH-Guatemala and I feel confident saying volunteering with NPH is the hardest thing and the best thing I've ever done. Being a volunteer is tough; there are countless challenges that accompany learning a new language, and living in a culture and country that is not your own. But these challenges pale in comparison to the joy that the children have brought into my life. I have realized it is the small moments with the children, that is what makes it all worth it. These little moments are by far the best. When a child runs up to give me a hug, shouts my name from across the soccer field or waves to me at mass to come sit with them; holding a child's hand as they have stitches removed, or reading bedtime stories with a sick child spending the night in the clinic; these are the moments that fill my heart and make me overjoyed to be a part of the NPH family.
 
Willis Allen, Activities Coordinator, NPH Guatemala
 
Matthew Callans, Montessori ESL teacher, NPH Guatemala
 
 
 
HONDURAS
 

Claire Magnuson, Women’s Empowerment, NPH Honduras
NPH has turned me into a person I would not have recognized a year ago. In all the best ways. This complicated, frustrating, loving, and incredibly strong family has shown me what it means to be human, and they’ve accepted me unconditionally as a human and as a new part of their family. Whether it’s from my Chicas Poderosas, my Hijas in hogar (household), or my fellow volunteers, I feel as though I’m always learning: about society, about love, and about myself. I am so grateful to NPH for the unconditional love it’s given me and taught me to give, and for introducing me to another side of myself.

 
Monica Meeks, Holy Family Surgery Center, NPH Honduras
15 months later, I am still in Honduras! I decided to extend my service at NPH in order to help start a surgical outcomes research program at the Surgery Center. I also am enjoying having a few more months with the lovely ladies of Hogar Guadalupe. It's sad to think that my time to return home is drawing near, but I'm so grateful for the wonderful experience I've had volunteering at NPH. It truly has been the best year and a half of my life.
Alex Hanel, Communication Officer, NPH Honduras
As the Communication Officer in Honduras, I am lucky to have the opportunity to work and spend time with both children and staff from all areas of the home. I found out about NPH through high school trips to Guatemala, and jumped at the opportunity to spend a full year after college. I get to spend my nights with the oldest boys, 15-18 years old, and still am continuously learning from them and the rest of the kids about how important and beautiful family can be, biological or otherwise. It has been a great but challenging nine months so far, and I'm looking forward to what's to come as I wrap up my year. 
 
 
Lauren Pach, Caregiver, NPH Honduras
As a tía for the babies of NPH Honduras, my days are always filled with laughter, tears, stories, songs, hugs, and kisses. It has been so rewarding to watch the children grow and learn over the last nine months of my service. I have watched kids take their first steps, say their first words, and go to school for the first time. I am thankful for every single one of them and the love and friendship that they give me. 
Alexandra Hickman, Holy Family Surgery Center Brigade Coordinator, NPH Honduras
My time spent at NPH so far has been the most amazing experience of my life. Though I am still young, I hope that I will take with me for the rest of my life what I have learned from these kids: to love without fear, to be happy with what you have, and to realize that life itself is a blessing. The kids love in unexplainable ways, they are happy even though they are from backgrounds and situations that children should never even know about, and they live life like it is a blessing. Every day here is a reminder of why NPH is such an important and special place.
Josh Pfau, Tutor, NPH Honduras
A quote from our director, Stefan Feuerstein, my first week at NPH describes how I wish to spend my time here: "If you allow your heart to open fully... you will experience love." This has become a mantra I use when spending time with our kids. Making an effort to be open means becoming incredibly vulnerable but it is necessary for developing deep and lasting relationships. When he said "allow your heart to open" it implies that it takes a constant and conscious effort. This effort yields the fruits of our labor; love.
 
Erin Comber, Teacher, NPH Honduras
If you told me that I would live in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for over a year awhile back, I would probably tell you that you are crazy. Yet, moving to Honduras and working with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos has been an amazing experience for me. My days are always filled with excitement: teaching English in the Montessori school, tutoring 10 to 15 year olds, and working in an hogar for adults with special needs. I have fallen in love with the culture, country, and people here. I treasure every hug, every time I hear “Teacher!” screamed from across the ranch, all the dance/ Zumba parties, and each great conversation. I am really excited to continue to grow, learn, and love as I continue my time here.
 
 
Katie Kaiser, Holy Family Surgery Center, NPH Honduras
The days here are full but life overall is simple and really sweet. I walk a mile to and from work, past cows and horses. I take cold showers and kill cockroaches daily. I sometimes start work before dawn (or right after), but the stars and the birdsongs at that time of day make it worth it. I get a lot of hugs and I learn a TON every day. The days consist of three main things: time with my fellow volunteers and housemates, my job in the surgery center (aka the “quirofano”) and hogar (Spanish for home) with the 4-8 year old girls. We spend 6-8 pm each night and every other weekend in hogar. Mine is with the 4-8 year-old girls in Casa Suyapa, the house with the youngest kiddos on the ranch. Each night, we eat dinner together and help them get ready for bed. As my parent friends can imagine, it gets pretty chaotic sometimes trying to get 16 girls in (and out) of the shower, jammies on, teeth and hair brushed and in to bed. But the reward for all the chaos are the little voices coming out of the dark asking --"Duermeme?" or essentially "will you cuddle with me while I fall asleep?" Having a six year fall asleep in your arms while you sing to them is pretty much the best feeling in the world. I don't know much yet about where the girls came from or their lives before NPH, but I am grateful for that ignorance. It gives me the opportunity to know them for who they are now and not what has happened to them. I can already tell they will be the hardest part about leaving this place.
 
Jason Abbott, Holy Family Surgery Center, NPH Honduras

Grace Callow, Nurse, NPH Honduras

 
 
Noah Forrest, Tutor (7th – 9th grade), NPH Honduras
 
 
Morgan Gagnon, Nurse, NPH Honduras
 
Lauren Nun, P.E Teacher, NPH Honduras
 
 
 
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
 
Kelsey Agather, Sponsorship and Communications Assistant, NPH Dominican Republic
It is very hard to summarize being a volunteer for NPH into only a few words; however, being surrounded by so many open, accepting, and loving children teaches us many things. We learn our flaws do not matter as much as we think because everyone has flaws. We learn to laugh and seize the moment. We learn to dance like no one is watching. It is marvelous to walk outside and hear a child scream your name or your nickname (mine’s crazy), turn your head and watch as one, two or three children race toward you to give you a hug, nothing, absolutely nothing beats this moment. You have a rough day at work, or you are feeling homesick, the children here always have the remedy. 
 
Alexa Bryan-Capellas, ESL teacher, NPH Dominican Republic
I'm currently serving at NPH Dominican Republic as a primary school English language teacher. Along with working in the school, I am also offering classes in the neighboring bateyes and starting a few outreach projects there. My house placement is with the ingresos (the newest boys coming into the NPH family) and while we are a full house, we are a very happy one!
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
Hannah Mulhausen,Visitor Coordinator, NPH Dominican Republic
 
 
NICARAGUA
 
Emily Doyle, Communication Officer, NPH Nicaragua
My time as an NPH volunteer has been the most challenging and the most rewarding experience of my life. From getting to know all my coworkers, to holding every conversation in Spanish, and especially to starting and ending my days with "my" 5- to 10-year-old boy, I know that this is something unique and wonderful that I will never forget! I'm so grateful to be a part of the NPH family.