Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What does it mean to be called?

Below is a post written by Jennifer Turner, NPH USA Southwest Region Development Officer!

I just received my Advancing Philanthropy magazine, July issue and was headed out to meet up with a long-time friend and colleague in the nonprofit sector.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

I arrived early for our visit so I began to look through the issue and came upon an article about our profession, Called to Do Well and Be Good by Paul C. Pribbenow, Ph.D., CFRE.

That’s when I read a passage that resonated with me, perfectly describing how I felt having built a career within the nonprofit sector and especially my work with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) USA.

In 1998 I started my service as a Youth at Risk Business Advisor in the US Peace Corp.  I served in Jamaica and upon completing my two years, relocated back to the US to continue in the nonprofit sector focusing on development and philanthropy.  

I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible organizations and generous individuals over the years.  However, my heart was always with the needs of youth abroad… so when the opportunity came along that allowed me to pair my skills in fundraising with my passion for international youth work, my heart leapt!

For almost two years I wake up every day grateful. Why?  The kids of NPH, no matter the age, the country or the circumstance are inspirational to the point where it’s an honor to share their stories and successes.  What they accomplish with the support of NPH embodies the essence of success.  And my work is to share their stories.  This work is my passion, which drives my happiness, which humbles me with gratitude.  And the donors and funders of NPH are just as incredible. 

Reading this passage was an eloquent reminder…

I’m so blessed to be in a profession where I love what I do, meet incredible people who become meaningful friends and despite any negative elements that surround me - I’m pulled towards inspiration that introduces me to yet more incredible people.

And for those who know me well, having the opportunity to become a part of the NPH family has been described by them as “Jenn found her dream job!” – a sentiment I resoundingly second.

So… yes, I have been called.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Fiercely Loving: the job description of no one, the responsibility of everyone

Volunteer Katie Johnson puts her all into her work: teaching English and music at the primary school, giving piano lessons in the afternoon, and leading Chicas Poderosas, a girls’ empowerment group. Below is a post by her.

When I first received my job offer from NPH Bolivia, it seemed that most of my time would be spent teaching children new subjects and skills, something that I was happy to do; however, one misconception that I had was that the people I would be serving would be uneducated.

Well, imagine my surprise when one of the kids here, Maximiliano, explained that he knew much more than I. “Usted no sabe nada,” which literally translates to “You do not know anything.” While it comes off a bit rude, it was actually quite true.

He would use this phrase for anything: a word I didn’t know in Spanish, a Bolivian holiday that I didn’t know existed, or ways to butcher pigs, kill snakes, and hand-cut grass. All of which were things he knew, and I did not.

It took me almost four months to realize that fulfilling my job description, teaching English and music, not only wasn’t enough for the kids, but it wasn’t enough for me either. I eventually realized that the best way I can help the children that I work and live with is to love them as powerfully as I can every single day.

It is the job description of no one here at our home, but at the same time it is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer.

Many of our kids come from abused or neglected backgrounds. To show them what true love looks like has been my greatest challenge. Love starts with a connection, like kicking around a soccer ball or helping with math homework, and advances toward empowerment and support.

It is an incredible feeling when one of my students is giving up on a piano piece because it’s too difficult and my words are the ones that encourage them to keep trying. Experiences like this, albeit small, teach me how impactful my support can be on the children here at NPH.

The hardest part of loving our children unconditionally, however, is when I need to show them tough love. When a child calls me a bad word, cheats during an exam, or refuses to do their chores, I have to sit them down and explain to them why their behavior is unacceptable. This can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even awkward, but I do it because truly loving someone means wanting them to be the best possible person that they can be.

While I knew I was capable of loving the children here, I certainly wasn´t expecting to fall in love. Every volunteer has a house of kids that they spend most of their time with. My house is San Francisco, filled with 10 to 12-year-old boys. It took a while for them to trust me, and even longer to respect me, but every moment with them is one that I cherish.

With nine months under my belt, and eight months left in my service, a part of me is excited to go home to Chicago, sleep in my own bed, pig out on American food, and be with family and friends; however, there is a bigger part of me that is devastated to leave and explain to my boys why I won´t be tucking them in every night anymore. It will be one of the hardest things I will have to do.

The role of the volunteer is ever changing, flexible, challenging, and certainly not for everyone. But the goal of the volunteer is to love fiercely and powerfully for the short time that they are present in these kids’ lives. I hope that I will have accomplished that goal by the time I leave.

(Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Friday, August 9, 2019

NPH USA Midwest Celebrates Supporter Rick Reichmuth

As our Midwest Region gears up for the Football Legends Classic 2019 at the Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington, Illinois, we would like to take some time to highlight this year’s Emcee: Rick Reichmuth. Rick, an AMS Seal-certified meteorologist, is the Chief Meteorologist at FOX News and FOX & Friends. After originally pursuing a career in banking, Rick decided to follow his dream and has now been working in the meteorology industry for over 17 years.

In 2017, Rick launched the Weatherman Umbrella, a one-of-a-kind umbrella that can withstand anything. It can endure winds up to 55 mph and effectively repels all water. Additionally, there is an app that allows users to locate their umbrella via Bluetooth and get morning notifications about if their Weatherman Umbrella is needed. The Weatherman Umbrella is currently available in three different styles: collapsible, stick, and golf. Thanks to the hard work of its founder and CEO—Rick, himself--Weatherman Umbrella has taken off.

Before Rick was a nationally recognized meteorologist and CEO, he served as an international volunteer at the NPH Mexico Miacatlán home in the early 90’s. After receiving a degree in Spanish Literature from Arizona State University, Rick headed down to NPH Mexico. Once there, he spent a little over a year focusing on active physical therapy for the home’s special needs children. Currently, our Mexico home supports 719 children and provides 1,677 services.

Rick is generously donating his time and his Weatherman Umbrellas to the Football Legends Classic. Rick, thank you for your continued support of NPH’s mission, and see you on the green!