Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

A message from A. Frank Donaghue, Friends' Chief Executive Officer: 

I recently returned from my trip to El Salvador and Honduras on Thanksgiving Morning. Needless to say my experience was utterly inspiring. The kids and young adults we all work to support are worthy of every effort given to our mission. What was most noticeable to me, especially from the students attending the  leadership training  from all our homes in Central and South America in Honduras, was the depth of spirituality and gratitude that our future leaders possess.  At every Liturgy, a student prayed for blessings on our donors, volunteers and staff. 

From a beautiful Quinceañera, to a graduation of kindergarten and grade school children, to a training, to dinner in the baby house, gratitude and faith was the most prevailing feeling.

Gratitude; I want to express to you in the deepest sincerity with the words of Paul.  "I give thanks to God for the gift of you".  I extend that to you on behalf of the children you help, give a home, feed, educate, shower with joy and provide with safety.

It is such a privilege  for me to work with everyone at Friends and NPH and share our commitment and passion. 

Happy Thanksgiving,


P.S.  Meet my newest Godchild, Darling.  She is 5 and lives at the home in Honduras. This picture is from her recent Baptism.  She is absolutely awesome. That smile alone gives you a reason to be Thankful.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I learned how very simple it is with some generous, helping hands to help out those in need...

Hey! I am Connor Van Ribbink, and I am a senior at Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, AZ. I have been involved with Friends of the Orphans for the majority of my life. I love everything about Friends of the Orphans. I love the commitment everyone in this organization has to bettering the lives of orphaned and abandoned children all across Latin America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I love the countless volunteers who have answered Father Wasson’s call to serve. Above all, I love and admire the pure and untouched happiness of the children of Friends of the Orphans. 

I have had the incredible privilege to witness this inspiring happiness many times, but most notably on my trip to the home in Mexico and my two trips to the home in Guatemala. Upon my latest trip to Guatemala I felt a calling to make a greater impact within my community for Friends of the Orphans. I answered this call in two ways. First of all, I made some changes to the Friends of the Orphans club within my high school with the goal of making our club more active. Our club of high school students now meets during a school break to write letters to our Godchildren. The second change I made was to create a fundraising event that would bring both our NPH club as well as other supporters of Friends of the Orphans in our community together to raise money for the kids of NPH. I thought of the idea to create a fundraiser held at Flip Dunk Sports for students all around the Phoenix and Scottsdale area. 

Flip Dunk Sports is an indoor trampoline park owned by Mrs. Lori Price whose son, Zach, has traveled to Guatemala with me twice. Thanks to her generosity the fundraiser was held November 2nd and half the admission cost was donated to Friends of the Orphans. In total, I am proud to say we raised $400 for all the kids of Friends of the Orphans. My goal is to pass this fundraising event on to my younger brothers to manage next year following my graduation from high school. I further intend to continue fundraising for Friends of the Orphans while I am in college. I learned how very simple it is with some generous, helping hands to help out those in need. I have an incredible passion for the cause, and I am confident this passion will continue for the remainder of my life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Long-time sponsors, the Hundt's, receive the annual Humanitarian Award!

Friends is pleased to announce we gave our annual Humanitarian Award to the Leo and Mary Lou Hundt, longtime Sponsors and great Friends! Mary Lou and Leo Hundt have been involved with NPH and Friends of the Orphans for over 25 years. They are Godparents to nine children and are in contact with 17. In the last 15 years, they have visited five NPH homes a total of 24 times. Leo served on the Friends of the Orphans National Board of Directors and was Chair of the Southeast Regional Board of Directors. They recently initiated an eye glasses mission, testing the vision of 215 children at NPH Honduras and delivering 109 pairs of glasses. They hope to expand the mission to NPH Mexico in 2013. We are eternally grateful to Mary Lou and Leo for their dedication and generosity. They have truly transformed the lives of our children and are making the world a better place. Below is a picture, Mary Lou shared with us of Farid, her godchild, that is currently finishing his year of service in Haiti.

The Hundt's with  Art Massolo, Southeast Regional Board Chair

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Domingo and I

2012 Southwest Pequeño Tour 
"Domingo and I" by T.J. Decker 

Hello. Good morning Bishop Nevares, clergy, family, friends, and guests. I am T.J. Decker, a senior at Brophy College Prep, and I am honored to speak in front of such wonderful people this morning. I have been a part of Friends of the Orphans and Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos since Kindergarten here at OLPH. Every year, our class sponsored a pequeña named Karen from Mexico, and we donated monthly to help support her. This was a great experience at such a young age, and we even got to exchange letters back and forth, which helped us to learn our Spanish. When I started as a Freshman at Brophy, I signed up for NPH club at the club fair because it was familiar to me. That year, I talked to fellow Brophy brothers who had gone on the mission trip previously, and they highly recommended the trek to NPH Guatemala in Central America. The next year I wanted to go on an immersion trip so I planned it out with a few friends that we would go to Guatemala and visit the awesome kids at Casa San Andres. The experiences on this trip opened my eyes and heart to what NPH is all about – love. 

Last year, I got selected again to attend the trip and this time was truly special because I spent an entire week with the pequeño I sponsor, Domingo. My experiences in Guatemala have been a blessing to me. My first trip was a wonderful surprise. I showed up at Casa San Andres and quickly whipped up my soccer skills and tried to keep up with what seemed to be the Guatemalan National soccer team. As a group, we visited the old capital of Guatemala, Antigua, and explored this ancient city with the pequeños. We also had an opportunity to take a boat on Lake Atitlan, which is a huge lake with three volcanoes jetting out of it. I had never seen anything like that in my life. The week-long trip went by so fast, and at the end I was wondering about the service component of the trip. We did spend time painting murals on the walls in the Casa de los Especiales (the special needs dorm), working on the farm and in the kitchen. However, I began to realize that the pequeños gave more to us through their smiles and cheerfulness than we gave to them. You could make errors while speaking in Spanish and they would just grin at you, help you and proceed giving you a hug. You could give them a piece of candy and they would be grateful and would do back flips. They just loved us. 

On my second trip, friends kept asking me why I had 10 pound weights in my luggage. Once we got to the orphanage, they figured it out. In one of Domingo's letters to me, he wrote that the doctor told him he needed to stop doing pull-ups because his shoulders were too big so I brought him dumbbells. Domingo had never used weights before, so I taught him how to do a simple curl. I believe that I learned more about Spanish and myself in small conversations like this. Whenever I tried to buy Domingo shoes or a new soccer jersey, Domingo always said no and told me to save my money. Smart kid! He always insisted on buying food or candy for us to share. It was hard to leave Guatemala because Domingo and all of the other pequeños became my family. I still email Domingo frequently, and he always apologizes if he cannot reply back to me in less than a day! I keep telling him no problem, but I guess he misses me that much. I know I miss him. 

I encourage each and every one of you to get involved with Friends of the Orphans and Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. My experience of sponsoring Domingo has been life-changing nonetheless. These children have never had the opportunities that we receive daily, but they continue to have a great outlook on life. They all have a dream – to become a doctor, teacher, soccer player or musician. So please consider sponsoring the dreams of these children and watch them thrive. It is incredible how much of a difference any one of us can make for a child by sponsoring a pequeño at $30.00 per month and sending them loving and supportive emails. I hope that very soon, you too can all have a picture of your own pequeño on your refrigerator as a constant reminder that you are changing their life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NDP Students Spend Spring Break Helping Orphans

Submitted by Joseph Fagan, Theology/ Friends of the Orphans Club Moderator 

If there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13), then in the life of a high school student, “laying down one’s Spring Break for one’s friends” must be a close second, and fourteen members of NDP’s Friends of the Orphans Club did just that. 

While many of their friends spent their Spring vacation on the ski slopes or the beach, DJ Seamans, Maura Kelly, Rhett Johnston, Maddie Frazier, Douglas Wong, Patrick Reilly, Allie York, Heather Huennekens, Natalie Wojtanowski, Edmund Wong, Annie Kaiser, Will Seamans, Francesca Decastell, and Daniela Cuellar, spent their Spring vacation at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (Our Little Brothers and Sisters) orphanage in central Mexico. Part service trip, part cultural immersion experience, each of our students takes something different from the experience, but they all describe the trip as life changing. Throughout the week, we help the NDP children with their chores; do arts-and-crafts projects and other fun activities with the special education students; play sports with the older kids, especially soccer; we take some of the pequeños (little ones) out for pizza and a trip to a local water park; but most of all, the participants in this mission trip provide a level of one-on-one love and attention that just isn’t possible for the staff in a home of over 800 children. 

The Friends of the Orphans Club prepares for the trip each year with a supply drive here on campus and this year we delivered fifteen large boxes of clothing and school supplies when we arrived at NPH Mexico in Miacatlan, Mexico. Some of our students who go on the trip (and their families) support a pequeño at NPH with letters of support and financial help through Friends of the Orphans, and this trip allows them to meet and really get to know that child. While this financial and material support is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty in which the pequeños would otherwise be trapped, it is impossible to express the emotional impact on the pequeños that knowing that they have padrinos (Godparents/patrons) who care about them, love them, pray for them, who will write to them, and who may visit them. 

Midway through our day at the water park, after Rhett Johnston (NDP ’12) had spent three or four hours taking care of his seven-year-old pequeño, I asked Fernando who Rhett was to him. He beamed as he said, “My friend, my padrino, my daddy!” I don’t think that Rhett or Fernando will ever see themselves – or the world – in the same way again. 

Both of Will Seamans (NDP ’15) brothers (Graham, NDP ’09 and D.J., NDP ’12) have been on the trip multiple times, but even so, Will says that it was a different experience than he expected. “I knew what we were going to do; that I would make new friends and that the trip would be fun,” he said, “but no one can really describe the relationships. You just have to experience that for yourself.” 

Our students are right. This trip is life changing. For them AND for the pequeños.

Mr. Joseph Fagan, NDP students and their pequenos at Our lady of Guadalupe basilica in Mexico City.