Below is a reflection from sponsor, volunteer, and NW Associate Board Member, Bailey Bangerter, who shares with us about her amazing experience at NPH Mexico.
Joining NPH Mexico in 2011 as the home's Communications Officer (CO), I was stepping into a life-changing whirlwind of events that have led me to where I am today. Having the dual job as CO and mentor to the high school students, I gained immediate insight into the tireless work that goes on behind the scenes to run the organization, as well as the ins and outs of the daily life of the children. While interviewing children to feature their stories on the website, it was difficult for me to grasp the depths of the tragedies and trials they had faced at such young ages. It was a privilege to hear the stories of our children as the home journalist, although it was an even deeper honor when the children opened up and shared their lives with me as a friend that had gained their hard-earned trust.
Before coming to NPH, many of these children were shuffled from one temporary shelter to the next, separated from their siblings. I am proud to be a part of an organization that gives children a true sense of stability and family-life. When they join NPH, they know that this is their “home”, where they can finally be liberated from the fear that they might be without education, food or shelter. I fully believe that NPH aids in the goal to break the cycle of poverty of the world.
NPH owes its success and longevity in large part to the organization's founder, our beloved Father William Wasson. He laid down the strong foundations of love, forgiveness and a merciful path, that the home continues to uphold. Father Wasson once said, “I believe that if we’re going to change the world at all, I believe that we have to start with the children, and we have to start in changing their hearts”.
I saw firsthand the good in these children and the depths of their hearts when I was forced to cut my yearlong volunteer commitment short for a family emergency. I was notified of my mother’s sudden decline in health one day, and I was scheduled to fly back to Seattle the very next morning. With the abrupt announcement of my unfortunate circumstances during bedtime prayers, I was overwhelmed with tearful hugs of well wishes, heartfelt notes scribbled in seconds-flat, and a few tokens of remembrances, including small stuffed animals, necklaces and crosses.
In the ensuing months, I devoted much of my time to my mother, staking out UW Medical Center as our new primary residence. I was torn between being selfishly devastated to have been robbed of my final few months at NPH and being selflessly grounded in the every day struggle of supporting my mother. My soul was overwhelmed to hear that the high school girls were praying for my mother’s recovery during their nightly bedtime prayer circle. My mother actually recuperated to a point that she was able to transition into the outpatient setting. I attribute these few months out of the hospital partly to the prayers and unfailing support of my family at NPH.
I owe so much to the children of NPH as they brought a gleaming light into the darkest point of my life. My mother, arguably the most beautiful person inside and out, passed away 3 months after I left NPH. The only factors that kept my spirit afloat were the love and encouragement from my three sisters, my close friends, and my new family of pequeños, fellow volunteers and staff at NPH Mexico. I was able to just hang on, with the anticipation of visiting my kids in Mexico every 6 months for graduations in July and Christmas celebrations in December. I only accepted jobs that permitted these semi-annual vacations and all my spare change went to my flights and travel costs.
Five years later, I’m still devoting much of my spare time to this organization, as an active member of the NW Associate Board, a proud Godmother of 13-year-old Rodolfo and a mentor of Irene, one of the six impressive students participating in the yearlong immersion program here in Seattle. Becoming a part of NPH has enriched my life in so many ways and has had a greater impact on my sense of self than I could have ever imagined.
As those who devote themselves to service often come to realize, when you set out with the idealistic goal of “making the world a better place” and “helping the less fortunate”, you end up investing in yourself more than anything. Through all the trials and challenges, you leave the experience as a stronger, more accepting and loving individual, with the life-long mission to work towards a more peaceful society. As father Wasson once said, “We are all brothers and sisters and we all must care for one another.” I am forever indebted to my brothers and sisters at NPH for caring for me over the past 5 years.