Thursday, January 26, 2012

Volunteer Extraordinaire

Below is a story shared by Southeast Regional Child Sponsorship Manager, Sherman Humphrey, about an extraordinary supporter, Natalie Duran, or as Sherman describes, Volunteer Extraordinaire!

Natalie Duran is committed to making a positive difference in the world, and has proven this through her support of Friends of the Orphans. We have Natalie to thank for connecting the Friends SE office with the Latin American & Caribbean headquarters of Federal Express (FedEx LAC). Since 2006, thanks to Natalie’s advocacy of Friends of the Orphans, FedEx has donated $50,000 to support the children of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, provided emergency overnight shipping of medicine to patients in Haiti, participated in regional events, and donated over 15,000 children’s books.

By introducing Friends of the Orphans to the Community Relations Board at FedEx LAC, Natalie put the Friends of the Orphans mission on the radar of this extremely charitable, and socially responsible, worldwide leader in shipping and logistics. Since 2006, the relationship has continued to flourished.

In 2011, FedEx invited Friends of the Orphans to partner with them for the annual FedEx Entrega program. This program, which aimed to collect over 15,000 children’s books for NPH Mexico, Guatemala and Dominican Republic, was a huge success. Over 15,000 books were collected and delivered to the three homes, in addition to an advertising and PR campaign both in the United States and abroad. In Miami, for example, FedEx presented the organization with a check for $10,000 “to encourage the love of reading in children” at a Books & Books reading event with Miami Heat player James Jones.

But Natalie’s support and advocacy of Friends runs deeper. She has also been a frequent volunteer at the Friends warehouse, helping to pack Haiti-bound containers with critical need supplies. In 2010, Natalie arranged a shipment of seventeen pallets of relief supplies from Miami to Haiti just days after the devastating Haiti earthquake (one of the first shipments of relief supplies to enter the country, from anywhere in the world!). Not only did she help to ship the pallets – she also came out to pack them!

Friends of the Orphans is extremely grateful for Natalie’s support! THANK YOU NATALIE!

Natalie directing volunteer crews while packing containers for Haiti.

Natalie on the phone, coordinating the shipment of 17 pallets of relief supplies to Haiti in the days following the 2010 earthquake.

Thank you to all our supporters like Natalie who helps to transform the lives of the children we support.

To learn more about volunteering, click here. You can also contact your regional Friends office to find out more about how you can help! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elle and Molly

Last fall, Molly and Elle, two girls from Seattle, were looking for a service project to do at their high school, Bishop Blanchet. After connecting with Friends staff, Molly and Elle started a project to get the entire student body involved in child sponsorship. 

They hosted an assembly to share the project, and Blanchet’s Community Periods (homerooms) paired up, appointed representatives, and chose their new Godchildren. 

School-wide fundraisers have raised money for their sponsorship donations, and the students have become engaged in writing to their Godchildren. The project has continued into this new school year, with Elle and Molly introducing the new freshman class to the project. Their school event hosted Juan Manuel Pineda of NPH El Salvador for an all-school assembly, where he shared his story and his music.

Thank you so very much to Elle and Molly for being great Friends!!!

Here is Elle with Juan when he visited their school.

Do you want to learn more about how you can help spread the word? Click here!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Choose love rather than hate...

Father Rick Frechette shares some of the great accomplishments of the work of Friends and NPH in Haiti, now 2 years after the devastating earthquake.

"Choose love rather than hate,
a smile rather than a frown,

Choose to build rather than to destroy,
to persevere rather than to quit,

Choose to praise rather than to tear down,
to heal rather than to wound,

Choose to give more than to take,
to respond rather than to delay,

Choose to bless rather than to curse,
to pray rather than to despair."


Dear Friends,

This time last year, I wrote about our beloved chapel, St. Philomena, which had stood through the destruction and shock of 2010. She was cracked and weakened, and held up by struts, inside and out, which looked like crutches. A church on crutches—a fitting image in a country where so many people were left limping, or limbless, or worse.

“Choose to build rather than to destroy”

During 2011, the chapel enjoyed an artistic renovation, and a beautiful painting of resurrection now covers the once broken stones of the back wall. The front wall was repaired and secured with additional support. Throughout 2011, we find ourselves to be guided by the spirit of Resurrection, as we rebuilt so much of what had fallen, and even more beyond that. Building up healthcare, education and outreach services, building up programs and people, such that of all our leaders are Haitian, many of them hailing from our original home and school, St. Helene. The post earthquake programs of 2010 have flourished and continued to grow to serve the marginalized and unfortunate, and give dignity to thousands.

“Choose to heal rather than to wound”

As we reflect on the second anniversary of the earthquake, which is also our 25th year in Haiti, we can see very clearly the fruit of our labor in all we have accomplished.

-The Fr. Wasson Angels of Light program for vulnerable and displaced children permanently cares for 180 children daily, while an additional 700 children from the community attend the onsite primary school.

-St. Helene in Kenscoff opened their doors to over 60 new children.

-A housing complex was built for our high school and university students.

-The new maternity program cared for and delivered 4,799 babies.

-Neonatalogy gave life to 640 premature and endangered babies.

-Our cancer center has served 140 children providing them a second chance in a country where cancer is s death sentence.

-Public health services reach 20,000 people still living in the deplorable condition of the tent cities.

-The Rehabilitation programs of St. Germaine and Kay Elaine assisted 1,500 adults and children.

-More than 1,600 jobs are provided with each person supporting a family of four.

“Choose to give more than to take”

We gave:

-3,000 bags of rice weighing 25 kilograms each

-852,000 loaves of bread

-199,000 packages of pasta

-1,728 trucks of water

-thousands of burials, too many to count.

-thousands of cement blocks to make homes and cobblestone to build roads.

"Choose to love rather than to hate”

On this 25th anniversary of our programs in Haiti, it is important to remember our mission. Fr. Wasson built NPH on the gospel values of unconditional love and acceptance, and of indebtedness to the community. Work and responsibility continue to be cornerstones of the home. 

“Choose to persevere rather than to quit”

In memory of Fr. Wasson, and his commitment to children, at a moment when the earthquake dead were being recounted under high publicity, I imagined the many children of Haiti asking to be counted as the living…

“We are God’s children
The fruit of the earth
destined for greatness
we’ll show you our worth
Count us in as the living
The eager, the bold
Count us in as true friends whose proud stories are told
Count us in as the grateful for life and for bread
count us in we beg you
count on us, it’s our promise
Let’s begin!"

To view a slide show video of our work, click here

Fr. Rick Frechette, CP

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coffee and Conversation with our International Volunteers!

Stacie Henrickson, Office Administrator/Volunteer Coordinator in the Northwest Region of Friends of the Orphans shares about their recent “Coffee and Conversation” event, held quarterly and featuring a different topic each time. This quarter’s topic was the International Volunteer Program.

One of my favorite aspects of Friends of the Orphans is our International Volunteer Program. I love being able to travel and experience the NPH homes vicariously through our 60 amazing international volunteers. Each week I take time to read a few of their blog updates and step directly into NPH and all the adventures and challenges they are facing. One of my favorite blogs is Carrie Daut’s - technically, she was a volunteer and is now an employee, but she still counts in my book. 

So, when I found out the topic for our last quarterly “Coffee and Conversation” event of 2011 would be the International Volunteer Program (bonus: the event was at Starbucks Headquarters with free coffee), I marked my calendar right away.

About 20 Friends of the Orphans supporters gathered to hear from a panel of four former international volunteers:

Jim Hall, NPH Honduras (2002-2003) – Jim lived in Honduras with his wife Chris and son Isaac. He is now on our Regional Board of Directors and a child sponsor. Jim recently launched his own photography and video business.

Joe Cotton, NPH Nicaragua (2005-2006) – Joe served as President of our Regional Board of Directors and is also a child sponsor. Currently, he is enrolled in the Masters Program at the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry. He is also an experienced youth minister who works with the King County Detention Program.

Angela Klaassen, NPH Honduras (2008-2010) – Angela graduated from the University of Portland and now lives and works in Seattle. She is a child sponsor and will be helping to launch our Associate Board for young professionals who want to support Friends of the Orphans.

Malia Cranmer, NPH Guatemala (2000-2001) – Malia is now a pediatrician and is also a child sponsor. She recently hosted our annual former volunteer gathering and also brought a table of guests to Faces of Hope this past spring.

It was so wonderful to hear from such a varied group of former volunteers – they served in different homes, held different positions, some returned several years ago and others more recently, and they have followed very different career paths. Even with these differences, they all shared some of the same joys (being part of a big family and spending quality time with the kids) and frustrations (language barriers and culture shock when coming home). It was also enlightening to hear the unique experiences of each volunteer – for example, Jim built relationships with the maintenance team and still sends money each month to help support one team member’s children through school. And we’re pretty sure Joe is the only volunteer who has ever opened a locker and found a live owl! He had some of the older boys to thank for that one.

The audience also asked a few challenging questions, for example, is there a negative impact on the kids from having volunteers come in and out of their lives? The panel agreed that the kids are happy to have attention for any length of time, and the kids also feel volunteers are part of a big family and know that when one family member leaves, another will come to spend time with them. In addition, all of the panelists keep in touch with children and/or staff at the homes and sponsor a child, and some have even been able to return to visit.

Guest pequeño Emir Ricaño, in Seattle for a year participating in the International Leadership Program, was able to share what international volunteers have meant to him at NPH Mexico – that an additional person cares about him and takes an interest in his life – and really reinforced how impactful and important this program is.

I believe everyone, myself included, walked away from this event feeling warm and fuzzy thinking about the kids at NPH and how great it is that people will volunteer for a year to help others feel cared for and important. 

If you are in the Seattle-Bellevue area, we encourage you to keep an eye on our Northwest page for upcoming events, including our quarterly Coffee and Conversation events next year, and events featuring the International Leadership Program Participants.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Father Wasson Angels of Light Program in Haiti

Dear Friends,

Today is a very special day for all involved in the Father Wasson Angels of Light (FWAL)
program of NPFS Haiti.


Four days after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, our program began operating out of a few tents where children could come to spend part of the day, away from the misery and share in a little joy and comfort of playing games and receiving a meal.

Now, two years, later FWAL has two homes where 183 children are living in a safe
environment, and we just finished the construction of our beautiful new primary school for a total of 800 children (including those who live in our homes). We have 128 staff working for our program, working for our children, with energy and a lots of love.

We are very grateful to all of those who helped and supported us from the beginning and who are still doing so. All our children thank you, and we hope that you will celebrate this day with us in thought and prayer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We are a family.

We grieve again on this second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, for those who lost their lives, for those who suffered so terribly, and for those dealing with its aftermath.

We must continue to do what we can to help, to show that we have not forgotten, to offer our love and support to the people of Haiti as they continue to recover.

And we must not lose hope, even if we must do this work alone. For we are not alone; we are a family. And God loves our family.

God bless.

John Iberle
Interim CEO, Friends of the Orphans

Click here to learn more about the work Friends and NPH is doing in Haiti. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NPFS Haiti 's 25th Anniversary Right Around the Corner!

Below is a message from Father Rick Frechette, discussing the fast-approaching anniversary of the St. Helene home in Haiti and the mission of NPH.

In just two weeks, on January 23, 2012, NPFS Haiti will celebrate 25 years of existence. It is not easy to celebrate festively in the face of the ongoing devastation in the country, but to celebrate every other way is surely in order!

During January, we will ask our new Archbishop, Guire Poulard, to celebrate mass at Kenscoff (St. Helene). It will be a mass of thanks-giving, remembering all of our children, staff, benefactors, those who have died and Fr. Wasson. 

We have every intention of using our anniversary as a time of evaluation and redirection. We will spend 2012 reviewing the trajectory of these 25 years, analyzing if we are still on track with our goals, suggesting ways of improvement, and getting feedback from those who have benefitted and worked in our programs in order to improve.

Please keep us in your prayers for this new year, that it might be a year of great grace for all of us.

Best regards,
Fr. Richard Frechette, CP

Click here to read an article by Father Rick about the history of NPFS Haiti, the great accomplishments of our collective work and looking forward to the future there. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's a Brand New Year!

All of us here at Friends bring in this new year with strong pride in last year's accomplishments, great hope for future successes, and a steady motivation to continue transforming the lives of children in need. I want to thank each and every one of you for all that you do to help us realize our mission – supporting the children of NPH. It is only with your generosity and support that we can care for the Pequeños providing them with a safe and loving home. It is because of you that Fatima from Honduras knows someone will always be there for her; that Silvia from Peru will always have a nutritious meal to eat; that Jesel from the Dominican Republic has clean clothes to wear and the chance to be a happy child. I can not stress enough how important you are to our NPH and Friends family. 

Thank you for all that you do. We look forward to a wonderful 2012 where we continue to work together to raise children and transform lives.

John Iberle
Interim Executive Director