Tuesday, August 31, 2021

"I have never felt more welcomed into someone’s home in my life..."

Below is a blog post written by India Zietsman Donor Relations Manager in the Midwest Region - enjoy!

I started working as the Donor Relations Manager of our NPH USA Minneapolis office on March 9th, 2020. Even before that first day at the office, I dreamt about my first trip to one of our NPH homes. I knew that traveling was part of the job when I applied and it was a highlight of the job description for me. I value that NPH USA sends their fundraising employees to visit the homes so that we have a deep understanding of our work.  

During my onboarding, I spoke with numerous co-workers to learn all about my day-to-day work as well as the general mission of NPH. When coworkers spoke about our programs and kids, they lit up. They explained that there’s something intangible and indescribable that makes NPH truly special. Every co-worker would say, “When you visit a NPH home, you’ll understand.” 

My third day in the office, my boss Stephanie and I decided I would plan to visit NPH Guatemala and NPH Nicaragua during the summer of 2020. However, as we all watched the world shut down with the arrival of the pandemic, I knew my chances to visit a NPH home in 2020 were extremely low. 

Fast forward a year and a half. The United States is slowly opening up with the arrival of the vaccine. My co-workers are buzzing because finally, we are planning our first trip to a NPH home since the pandemic hit. And guess who’s on the list of attendees? ME! I truly screamed with joy when I found out that I’d be traveling to NPH Honduras in August 2021. I had watched all of the videos on NPH USA and NPH International’s YouTube accounts. I had read almost every article, webpage and brochure about our programs and our kids. I had learned as much as I possibly could from afar. After a year and a half, I’d be able to experience it all in-person. 

I have never been more overwhelmed with both joy and nerves at the same time in my life. A million questions came up: What did I need to do to prepare for this trip? Would the kids like me? Would the kids be excited to meet us? Would my Spanish (which I hadn’t used in 5 years) come back? And many more that I’m too embarrassed to admit in a blog post.  

We landed in Honduras at 3pm on a Tuesday and began driving to NPH Honduras, also known as the Ranch. Everyone who’s been to Honduras knows that driving there is slightly terrifying. Cars don’t just drive with a purpose there… they drive aggressively; constantly trying to overtake slower cars ahead of them on one-way roads. When we arrived at the Ranch, I think we were all grateful to be off the highway and inside the gates of the safe, gorgeous, calming property. We were also in awe of the enormous size of the Ranch. I got lost almost every time I walked around up until the last day of our trip. 

After three days of quarantine and a negative rapid COVID test, we could finally meet and spend time with the pequeños. Once again, my nerves and joy took over. I could feel myself shaking with anticipation. My first night with the kids, I had dinner with some of the older girls in their hogar, which is Spanish for “home”. When I stepped through the door, all of the girls ran up to me. They immediately gave me hugs, said “hello” or “hola” and asked me to come sit and eat with them. They were so excited to have me there and talk with me in my rusty Spanish. I have never felt more welcomed into someone’s home in my life. After dinner, they convinced me to dance and sing with them to American songs. I typically refuse to sing in-front of ANYONE. But looking into their eyes and hearing their pleas, I couldn’t say no. 

I walked back to the visitor’s center that night with the biggest smile on my face. My heart was overflowing with love for the girls I had met. They were all incredible. They immediately opened up to me – telling me about themselves, sharing laughs, and asking me all about myself. Now that I have had time to reflect, I recognize that I’ve never experienced anything like it in the United States. I was a stranger to these girls when I first arrived but left their home as a friend, as a member of their family. 

Hogar after hogar that I visited each day after that first dinner with the girls, I had the same experience. Kids running up to me just to offer a hug and say hello while I walked past the playground. Kids yelling my name as they watched me walk by their home. Kids sharing their passions and interests with me either through words or actions. I fell in love with all of them. I finally understood what my co-workers meant when they said, “When you visit a NPH home, you’ll understand.” 

I now have seen with my own eyes that NPH is truly unlike any other organization. NPH understands that every one of our kids is special and unique. While in Honduras, we were asked to describe NPH in two words. My words were holistic and human. I knew about our holistic programs before traveling to Honduras. I had read that they encourage our kids to be fully themselves, and that they have the power to empower. However, I only connected to the deep humanity of our work when I met our kids. Meeting them has given me a face to think about when I talk about our work. Today, I sit in my office and smile knowing that the work I’m doing is supporting them: those kids with beautiful dreams, incredible talents and huge hearts. 






Monday, February 8, 2021

Rise to the Challenge

With a strong start to 2021, NPH USA has kicked off the year with a first quarter initiative to promote gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Girls in Latin America face higher disadvantages because of their gender. According to UNICEF, 1 in 4 girls who live in poverty in Latin America do not go to school to work in domestic care tasks and 25% of girls will get married before they turn 18. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these issues and increased the divide. Empowerment of these girls is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and violence.
 
NPH provides life-changing initiatives for young girls, like our Youth Development, Chicas Poderosas (“Powerful Girls”) and Higher Education programs – each helping transform young girls into educated, confident, self-assured, young women with the potential to achieve their biggest dreams. 


The NPH Chicas Poderosas programs work with young women and girls to challenge their surrounding cultural norms. What expectations have been given to women in the past, do not have to apply for their future. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to define an inclusive future for the mothers, the daughters, and the communities they live in. Raising awareness and funds for the programs that empower the youth of NPH will perpetuate inclusivity.
 
That’s why 2021 has started out with a nationwide campaign to CELEBRATE HER – an opportunity to celebrate the girls, the women, the daughters and mothers! In lieu of celebrating, we’re also focused on educating. Celebrate Her is a national effort to bring to light, the injustices against females, as much as it is about empowering NPH girls to stand up for themselves, make healthy decisions in their relationships and demand the respect they deserve.

As mentioned, we’re collecting gifts to celebrate females, raise awareness for gender equality, and support the empowerment of girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
 
Who is your HER? Is there a woman in your life who is tenacious, resilient and inspiring? Are there a few? We see those same qualities in many of the girls and young women who join the NPH family. Consider honoring the transformational women in your life with a gift to empower the lives of young women and girls across the NPH family with our tribute giving program! 


When the idea of focusing on gender equality to start 2021 reached board members, a domino effect took place. Current and former NPH USA national and regional women board members decided to come together and create a collective challenge as part of CELEBRATE HER –  supporting the movement in a big way and challenging YOU to do the same. 
 
As of February 8th, over $86,000 has been committed to challenge you by 16 inspiring women! Are you up for the challenge? Support the movement and give a gift in honor of your HER to contribute to the empowerment of young women and girls at NPH!
 
Rise to the challenge!  Give a gift in honor of your HER.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Reflecting on 2020 as we move into 2021!

As we embark on a brand new year, it feels vitally important to reflect on all we have overcome in the past year. 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges, but thanks to the support of our incredible staff, board members, volunteers, sponsors, and donors, we still managed to help thousands of children in need throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It is only through your dedication, generosity, and deep compassion that we were and remain able to continue our critical mission of raising children, transforming lives, and supporting families. So, let's take a moment to remember some of the highlights from the past year. 

  • Though trips to visit the NPH homes were quickly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NPH USA decided to bring the homes to their supporters in another way. Amidst the global health crisis, families have found strength inside their homes. The NPH family is no different. The “NPH Open Home Series” was born and inspired by the open house theme; a popular event in the United States that is a friendly, casual time when people are invited to come into your home. Home evokes the image of Family – a core NPH principle. The live video series was an invitation for supporters, old and new, to come into the NPH world in more ways than one. To view episodes from the NPH Open Home Series this year, visit www.nphusa.org/openhome/.

  • Change the World. Start with the Children., a new book detailing the life of Father William Wasson, his philosophy, and how he changed the world was published in April 2020! It includes words from Father Wasson himself, his four principles of successfully raising compassionate children, stories about those who were directly impacted by his unconditional love and support, and excerpts from the his original manuscript written in 1976. The book showcases his philosophies for raising the children in his NPH, and ALL proceeds from book sales were/will be donated to NPH USA! Learn more here.

  • You know what they say, the music never stops! Even when times are difficult and stress levels are high, the NPH family finds a way to come together. Last June and July, NPH USA hosted a 14 day, virtual concert from their home to yours! The online event, called Summer Sounds for the Pequeños benefit the NPH mission as much as it did the ears of its’ viewers. Over 20 musical talents submitted original songs on behalf of raising support for the NPH mission. Musical performances included pequeños, hermanos mayors, and NPH USA supporters. 

  • Following the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Frank Donaghue, the board of NPH USA interviewed a very strong pool of candidates, ultimately approving the selection of John Deinhart as our new President and Chief Executive Officer! John Deinhart is no stranger to NPH. He has been a friend and supporter of our organization since 2007. John has served on our National Board of Directors and is currently serving as Board President for the Father Wasson Legacy Endowment, and also is a member of the Midwest Region Board of Directors. He has generously supported our programs as a child sponsor and University Scholarship Sponsor. John’s commitment to our mission, deep knowledge of NPH, strong results and experience in leading teams and fundraising made him a perfect choice to lead our organization forward. You can learn more about John here!

  • Typically, each fall, NPH USA hosts events across the United States to raise funds for the homes, health services and educational programs of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. This year though, due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, we moved our events online and hosted a the first-ever single national virtual gala on October 17! “While we had concerns about moving from our traditional in-person events, our supporters stepped up to the plate and made an amazing difference tonight. They participated in remarkable numbers and gave enthusiastically.” stated John Deinhart, President and CEO of NPH USA. More than 1,100 people registered for the event, which was broadcast on the Auction Harmony platform, and we raised nearly $1.2 million was raised that very evening, including over $120,000 from an online auction!