Friday, February 16, 2018

Gathering with Friends, Celebrating what is Possible

Below is a post by Cathy Callans, NW Regional Board Member, about the pequeños in the Seattle Leadership Institute/iLEAP programs and the joy she finds in being a part of the NPH USA family! 
The NPH Seattle Leadership Institute program and the iLEAP program, both here in Seattle, have provided the Northwest Region with a gift that keeps on giving. Each year 6 pequeños, usually university students, spend a year here in Seattle, living with host families, working on English skills, self awareness/growth and leadership in the hopes of returning to their countries to become future leaders within the NPH organization. Another 10-12 pequeños/employees attend a month-long iLEAP leadership program here at different points throughout the year.

These programs provide our Northwest NPH community with a unique opportunity to have these students and employees share the impact of our programs as ambassadors for NPH.

One such opportunity came up in January when I invited 6 close friends to attend a dinner at my home. This dinner was prepared by the leadership students, with ethnic foods native to their countries. The students wore celebratory clothing from their home countries and welcomed each guest. Throughout the evening there were ample opportunities for them to share their stories and experiences with NPH with the guests, making it a memorable evening for all. I truly believe there is no better way to connect with this organization than by taking a trip to one of the NPH homes, or by interacting directly with the pequeños. It was an evening every single one of my friends will never forget. And as a result, NPH will hold a special place in their hearts forever.

They showed their gratitude by giving generous donations to support NPH and the Leadership program, so it was a successful event that was a win win win for everyone, my guests, the pequeños, and NPH.

I encourage everyone to work to find unique ways to connect family, friends and colleagues with NPH pequeños and employees directly whenever the opportunity presents itself!

Friday, January 19, 2018

2017 Highlights from NPH USA!

2017 was another wonderful year at NPH USA, where along with the generous support of our donors, sponsors, and volunteers, we were able to continue our work to break the cycle of poverty and truly transform the lives of children in need throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Below are some highlights from each regional branch of NPH USA! Thank you for being a part of this life-saving work!

Northwest Region
  • In the NW, we graduated the sixth (and welcomed the seventh) annual cohort of 6 young leaders from NPH to the Northwest for a year-long program of study and leadership development.
  • The NW Associate Board for young professionals sponsored a variety of fun and successful events in Seattle, including Carnaval for a Cause, Hunt for Hope, and a Trivia Night. AB members also sponsored fundraisers at their companies!
  • Support of our events grew dramatically, including our third annual NPH USA Northwest Golf Classic, which nearly doubled in size, and our record-breaking Gala, which raised more than $400,000! In particular, we increased our corporate sponsorship significantly from past years.
  • We welcomed 180 new child sponsors, and 21 Northwest donors contributed $5,000 each to provide a scholarship for a university student at NPH.
  • We celebrated 8 successful years of leadership from Katie Hultquist as Regional Director and transitioned in new staff roles, with Ross Egge as Regional Director and Glory Visario stepping into new responsibilities as Development Manager!
  • We raised more than $1.9 million in general funding to support our children and the work of NPH. Thank you to all!
Carnaval Fun

NW Golf Classic
Seattle Institute and I-Leap

Southwest Region
  • In 2017 we had the most successful turnout we’ve ever had with our golf tournament, Holes Fore Hope! It was great spending the day with our wonderful donors playing a fun and charitable round of golf.
  • In September we made it a goal of ours to start up an Associate Board in our region, and we got off to a great start! In the first three months we hosted a holiday party and an event at three Kendra Scott locations across Arizona, and were able to raise nearly $11,000! For 2018, we plan to raise more funds for NPH by hosting monthly events and expanding the size of our associate board.
  • In the Fall we were thrilled to have the Pequenos from El Salvador here with us. We spent time in Danville, California and Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. We were able to see them perform at several events, and learned more about what life is like at Casa Sagrada Familia.
  • In 2017 our team was able to grow our footprint in the Southwest region. We hosted events in Tucson, Texas, and Colorado, that we never had done before. We also continued to grow our presence in Northern California and locally in Arizona. By reaching out to these new areas we have been able to connect with long-time donors, former international volunteers, and new supporters to NPH!
  • Each year we look forward to our Faces of Hope Dinner. We had an amazing turnout and our silent and live auctions were a huge success. Frank Donaghue and NPH Honduras National Director Stefan Feuerstein gave very inspiring speeches!

Frank Donaghue and supporters at Faces of Hope

The growing Associate Board

Midwest Region 
  • The pequeños from NPH Nicaragua provided great music and folkloric dancing during their tour of the Chicago area this past spring. The group was hosted by families from Sts. Faith, Hope, and Charity Parish in Winnetka and Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park. We raised a little over $70,000 in revenue and opened up new sponsorships with an annualized value of roughly $11,000! Many thanks to our host families and local organizers. We couldn’t do it without you!
  • The weather cooperated this year for our fifth annual golf outing featuring NFL Hall of Famers and other football greats from years past. Stately Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington was once again our beautiful and accommodating host for this event, and the event set a new record in terms of the amount that was raised!
  • The historic and eclectic Hotel Allegro in Chicago’s Loop was the location for our annual Gala and After Dark events. For the fourth consecutive year, the NPH USA Midwest Region Associate Board hosted the always fun Gala post-party, aptly named After Dark.
  • Thanks to the organizing and running efforts of Midwest Region Board member Chris Ambroso, Team NPH USA’s marathon runners raised $5,200 for the children of NPH!
  • This year, the Midwest Region directed seven trips to NPH homes in Guatemala (three times), Honduras (twice), Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Participating on those trips were 159 people who were able to experience for themselves what life is like at an NPH home!
NFL legends and members of the golf outing committee

MW Gala

Midwest Region sponsors Colleen and Jeff Knupp visiting NPH Nicaragua in June

Upper Midwest Region
  • Thanks to the generosity of benefactors, the Upper Midwest Region raised $2,165,000 in 2017!
  • Our region’s Young Professional board hosted four successful fundraisers, and through these events, they raised $14,864 for the children of NPH! Congratulations and well done to this dedicated group of individuals.
  • A shout out to a group of 15 youth for starting up a new youth ambassador group this past year in the Twin Cities and surrounding area who raised $2,016 collecting donations from friends, and hosting a scavenger hunt and a jingle bell run!
  • Celebrando a los Niños Gala was yet again a successful event with over 400 attendees and raising over $378,000 to advance the mission of NPH PLUS an additional $100,000 matching gift!

Celebrando a los Niños


Young Professionals

New Youth Ambassador Group

Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region
  • The Greater Boston Irish community came together once again to celebrate the 8th annual Irish Hearts for Orphans Benefit Dance that raised more than $160,000 for NPH USA in April! Multiple Irish bands provided entertainment, a Caribbean Cruise was raffled off, and there were amazing silent auction and raffle items.
  • Eleven schools throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire opened their doors and hearts to the children of NPH Guatemala this fall during our 2017 Pequeño Tour. Also, four parish communities welcomed the NPH Guatemala pequenos into their Churches—including one brand new to NPH! Not only did parishioners host children, but the parishes combined for more than 100 new child sponsorships!
  • Our NPH USA Duxbury Council threw their first house party fundraising event, Oysters for Orphans, which was a resounding success! Originally set to cut off tickets at 75, the demand was so high for this event that our hosts graciously allowed us to increase that cut-off to 90! In total, this event raised more than $25,000! Our hosts for the event, Ben and Victoria Lloyd, also helped lead a youth trip to the NPH Mexico home in June of 2017. The Duxbury community has truly embraced NPH USA and the future looks bright for this partnership!
  • Our NPH USA Hingham Council threw their first annual Love without Limits Masquerade Ball at the South Shore Country Club in Hingham. Local band, The Catunes, rocked the house and got everyone out on the dance floor as they raised money and learned more about the mission of NPH USA. The event raised more than $50,000 and set a wonderful foundation for future events in Hingham!
  • Twelve groups took trips to various NPH homes in 2017, including school and church groups! In total, 147 people from our region went on group trips. Thank you to St. Paul’s School in Hingham, the SMASH LifeTeen program out of Hanover/Norwell, B.C. High, Holy Family Parish in Duxbury, Northeast Catholic College, and St. Anselm’s College for running trips, and for all other travelers who choose to spend their time with the children of NPH!

Youth from Duxbury had a great time at NPH Mexico

Irish Hearts for Orphans Honorees Dr. James O’Connell, Steven & Deirdre Ginns, and Fr. Joe Raeke pose for a photo with event co-chair, Winnie Henry

Love without Limits Masquerade Ball

Pequenos from NPH Guatemala played soccer games with the students at schools they visited on the tour.

Southeast Region
  • In early March 2017, a talented group of 12 Nicaraguan Pequeños in their late teens came to participate in activities in Miami. The Pequeños, who were hosted by families involved with NPH USA, toured museums, enjoyed a beach excursion, visited a family-oriented festival called Carnaval on the Mile and attended mass at Church of the Little Flower during their three-day visit!
  • On the last evening of the Pequeños time in Miami, the Southeast Region Board held a celebration with a reception for 50 donors and new friends of NPH USA, featuring a wonderful program of traditional music and dance performed by all the Pequeños.
  • In April, NPH USA and India Hicks Collection collaborated on a Great Shopping and Philanthropy event. Friends of NPH USA were invited to shop the Collection to benefit the children of NPH, where 40% of the total sales were donated to support NPH homes!
  • Spring Fling 2017 was held in May as a reception for NPH USA donors and supporters. It was a fun evening of food, drink and a raffle. Along with networking among the attendees, a short program of wonderful stories about NPH homes was shared with the 40 guests.
  • A premier dinner event was held in November at the home of a board member. It was a gathering of 22 invited guests, as well as a special visitor, Frank Donaghue, our very own President and Chief Executive Officer at NPH USA. The focus of the evening conversation was the NPH University Scholarship Program that provides financial help for over 400 motivated university students and how companies and individuals could support university education for these NPH scholars!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The hugs, the greetings and the genuine smiles filled my heart to the brim...

Below is a testimonial from former international volunteer Elizabeth Lanham who led a trip to NPH Guatemala this past summer! Enjoy!
The most important thing for me when I left Guatemala, after working for a year in the medical clinic, was to stay connected.  So when NPH USA approached me about leading a trip with a group of high-schoolers out of Boston this past July, I immediately said yes.  I knew I wanted to share the beauty and preciousness of the children at NPH with as many people as I could, but little did I know what a beautiful experience I was in for by bringing these two groups together!
The teenagers came equipped with activities and age-appropriate games to play with the children of NPH.  Several of them had studied Spanish and they were all eager to jump right in and get to know the kids.  We were handed a schedule our first day which had us sharing meals, playing games with the kids, and participating in their daily routine.  We were also given tasks such as weeding out the garden and working in the kitchen.  One day we even made a trip to an outlying school in a pueblo to bring food, school supplies and piñatas: extending the generosity of NPH beyond its own borders to neighboring communities.
What makes a difference for those who come to visit NPH is a willingness to engage in all that the children do and experience.  For instance, whether you like the food or not, you eat it.  Whether you want to go to church or not, you go and participate.  Whether you want to do your chores or not, you give your best effort.  And whether you are shy or not, you still smile, approach each other and accept each other for who you are with appreciation.
Having worked at the foundation, for me the entire trip was like coming home.  The hugs, the greetings and the genuine smiles filled my heart to the brim.  I love those kids and I love even more seeing others fall in love with them too.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Welcome NPH Seattle Institute Students!

Over the past month, we have been delighted to welcome the 7th annual cohort of the NPH Seattle Institute to the Northwest. The six talented young leaders chosen for the program this year are warm, thoughtful, and dedicated to giving back. They have been adjusting well to living with their homestay families, and have started intensive English classes at Seattle Central College. Northwest staff, regional Board members, Associate Board members, and international volunteers have all had the opportunity to meet the students at various events, including visiting the pumpkin patch, weekend BBQs, and a welcome gathering up on Whidbey Island. Please join us at the NPH USA Northwest Gala on November 4th to meet the students!  You can also follow their progress on the Seattle Institute blog or on the Seattle Institute Facebook page. Meanwhile, we wanted to share these bios of the new students with you. Bienvenidos!
Class of 2017 – 2018


Ever, Bolivia
Ever is our first Bolivian participant in the Seattle Institute. He already has numerous experience in cross-cultural interaction and transition since he just finished his second year studying Industrial Engineering in Monterrey, Mexico. While he was in Bolivia, he spent four years assisting youth from two different age groups in their leadership and youth development programs. When asked about why he wants to come to Seattle, he replied, “I wanted to come to Seattle to experience growth as an adult. I want to develop my professional and personal skills to keep serving my NPH family, which is what Fr. Wasson wanted all of us to do.”

Darlyn, Guatemala
Darlyn arrived in Seattle having just graduated with two degrees in Physical and Occupational Therapy. She is passionate about women’s leadership and access to healthcare. Darlyn also participated in an iLeap Global Leaders session two years ago. When asked about what leadership is, she responded, “I believe that leadership is inspiring others through my actions towards other people. To lead isn’t only directing, but it means we have to work together to make sure that our world is easier, rather than harder, and equal.” She hopes to continue her support of NPH as a Physical Therapist upon her return to Guatemala.

Farid, Honduras
Farid hopes “to learn more about servant leadership and continue to grow into my full potential as an NPH leader.” He is bilingual in Spanish and Hatian Creole and in his final years of obtaining his degree in Psychology from the national public Honduran university. Farid brings a diverse background to his experience in Seattle, including a one-year long internship in Haiti at the NPH home, working as a religion teacher in NPH Honduras, and participation in four youth leadership conferences. “I can’t wait to experience all that I will in Seattle! I’m excited to learn about leadership, myself, English, and be in my homestay,” he says. “This experience will help me work better and smarter for our NPH family.”

Maria, Honduras
Maria became involved in leadership when she joined the “Youth in Action” group in Honduras. She hopes that Seattle will push her out of her comfort zone and into new personal growth. Maria is studying education, with the goal of imagining what improved education systems would look like in Honduras. She is a globally minded leader devoted to youth development and women’s leadership. She says, “I believe that being a leader means being responsible for that actions that you are making. It means taking initiative to start and continue something that no one else can. It means being an example for others, working in a team and being willing to learn from your mistakes. A leader should be inclusive and creative, not just someone who orders others around.”

Darich, Nicaragua
Darich is entering his final year of university studying Business Administration and he will complete his degree upon returning to Nicaragua. As the coordinator of the youth leadership group of NPH Nicaragua, he brings his unique experience to the cohort. Darich knows that the program will be challenging, but he is excited for the challenges and opportunities. “I wanted to come to Seattle to participate in a program that will help me grow as a person, opening doors to opportunities both professionally and personally. This program will give me the skills to confront challenging situations, make important decisions, and make me more cross-culturally competent.”

Yomara, Nicaragua
Yomara just graduated with a degree in English Education. She has participated in four different international youth leadership conferences and has assisted in different leadership groups in the Nicaragua home. Yomara says that she is a leader that acts from faith and love. “My main goal for Seattle is to prepare me better as a leader so that I can serve my family and my country,” she says. I want to help improve education systems so that we empower our youth and young adults so that they have the opportunity to be responsible men and women who always fight to achieve their goals.” Yomara is excited to learn more about leadership and eventually return to the NPH Nicaragua home to teach English.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's so easy to sing the praises of NPH and all they do to improve the lives of the children in their care...

Below is a testimonial from Lorraine Riedl in our Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region who recently visited NPH Guatemala!
Amazing! That's how my seven year old granddaughter, Magnolia, described her stay at Casa San Andres, the NPH home in Parramos, Guatemala.
July 24th through July 28th, my son, granddaughter, a friend and I travelled to Guatemala to visit the children that we sponsor. Although it wasn't my first trip to an NPH home, or my first trip to Casa San Andres, it was as exciting as if it were.
There's an immediate connection with the children and staff that makes you part of the family. My granddaughter and her godsister were inseparable, and she enjoyed playing and spending time with all the children. It was fun for the adults, too. I fell in love with a 6 year old lovely little girl, a kitten lover, who I am now sponsoring in addition to the goddaughter I went to visit.
Everyone at the NPH homes receives a first rate education. They are also given the opportunity to learn a trade, such as baking, cooking, woodworking, or welding, to name a few.  Sports are also a big part of their daily lives. They are nurtured physically, mentally and spiritually.
I return from each trip energized. It's so easy to sing the praises of NPH and all they do to improve the lives of the children in their care. Because of those who sponsor children, volunteer and dedicate their time, and share their love and knowledge with the children, those young people have the opportunity to achieve a bright future.
Please visit your godchild, or visit an NPH home and sponsor a child while there, and discover the miracles that NPH, with your help, can perform.

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 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

"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!