Investing in their Future

Carlos with Marilu and BellaI do not know the number of children who have resided at the Refugio Infantil Santa Esperanza since it first opened its door to 14 children.  Some children are there only for a few days – others for years.  Some have made such an impact on our lives that we are unable to let their memory go.   Their names are “Moi, Lupita, Teresa, Angel, Zuliin, Elisa, Aron, Carmen and Carlos,” to name just a few.   My fellow board members and I wonder if we were to see one of these children on the street would they recognize our faces?   Yes, a few times, to my delight, I have heard a little voice singing the silly song the children taught me during their kitchen duties or have heard my name called from a passing bus.

Through Facebook, I personally have been able to see a glimpse of a few of these children’s journeys after leaving RISE.  I can view pictures of them at school, work, baby showers, and I have now begun to watch their own children grow.  Some of their stories are heart breaking as the cycle of under-education and teenage pregnancy continue.   But there have been those who are strong and on the path to a better future.  Two such examples are Carlos and Carmen.

CarlosOn his very own, Carlos, whom some might remember, applied for and received a full scholarship at a high school in Guadalajara.  He has grown into a handsome man and is still kind and caring.  His grades are excellent, and he plays on the starting lineup of his school’s soccer team.
The other is Carmen, who is being sent by YOU, our donors to a vocational school where she will graduate with a certificate as a hair stylist.  She has become confident, and each time I see her she  seems more beautiful.  She personally strives to improve her English so that her options after graduation are many.

But these success stories are not about the board of the Children’s Shelter of Hope – they are about YOU.  YOU are the ones who  gave us the ability to invest in good schools, the funds to pay for qualified tutors, the ability to enrich their lives through sports, music and even karate.
The scholarship granted to Carlos has provided for his every need.  It even pays for his transportation home to visit his family.  And I’ve heard that he always finds time to return to RISE so that he can visit the Madres (as shown in the picture).

However, Carmen still has 3 months left of school and a long list of needed supplies.  The amount is small compared to such schools in the U. S. (approximately $600 U.S. remaining).   But the funds still need to be raised– can we COUNT ON YOU “again” to secure the future of this well deserving young woman?

Outfit A Child


I have just returned from Puerto Vallarta for a board meeting of the Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation and some much loved time with the children at the Refugio and Pasitos de Luz.

Nov. 2012 009In the 15 days I was there, 5 new children arrived on the door steps of RISE – YES, five children, PLUS the 3 who arrived from Child Protective Services (DIF) in August.  This now gives us 47 children who reside full time at RISE and whom we help support through your generous donations.

When a child arrives, they come only with the clothes on their backs.  Soon after children arrive a brief evaluation of their physical and mental needs is made.   Three of the children’s heads were so infested with head lice that there was no other option but to give all the girls a ”butch” hair cut. Our psychologist reports that these children had experienced both physical and mental trauma, but sadly, it was not from the hair cuts.

Since my own children are grown, I asked myself “How much will it cost RISE to provide just ONE child with the basics they will need?”  Since I did NOT know, I decided I needed to go shopping for 3 t-shirts, 3 underpants, 4 pairs of socks, tennis shoes, sandals, 2 tops, 1 pair of shorts, 1 skirt, 1 dress and a pair of pajama’s.  The total expense for just one child was approximately $1500 Pesos OR “$120 US (the amount requested for being a current  10 x 10 Child Sponsor for one year).  Now multiply that by 5, and if 5 more arrive, multiply that again!

And with all this said, I am happy to announce our newest board member, Susan Solomon, who will soon be directing our 10 x 10 Program and will be introducing to you new ways you can help our mission.



For the “wonderful,” we would like to thank all of you who opened your hearts to the children of RISE and Pasitos and made their return to school an exciting experience. With your support, our Back to School Matching Funds Campaign was a huge success. Like you, we believe that education is the key element for the future of these children. Without education, they will have little opportunity to fulfill their dreams for a brighter tomorrow.

With the amount donated, the staff at RISE bought $530 worth of new shoes and socks; $175 paid for new uniforms; and $160 was spent on backpacks, school supplies, registration fees and books. At Pasitos, $200 was used to buy new puzzles and books.

But that’s just the beginning:

Chely, a lovely young woman (the oldest of five siblings) will be attending the UNIVA High School. $1435 went to pay for her registration, uniform, books and tuition through December. Chely is very focused on her education and is a good role model for the other children.

And there is more:

With your help, we are sending two of the boys from RISE to a school that will help them with their special needs. They are both bright, with the ability to excel, but they were struggling in public school. Even though one of them is receiving a scholarship, the tuition for both is over $375 per month, and the amount for registration, books and uniforms was another $1200.

But we’re NOT done yet:

Many of you who have spent time at RISE may remember Carmen and her sister Lucia. Although Carmen left RISE several years ago, we learned in August that she has been struggling to support herself. Philippa Vernon Powell of New Life Mexico helped Carmen register for a school to become a beautician. There she will learn not only about styling hair, but also how to give manicures, pedicures, etc. With the kind assistance of Philippa, Carmen was able to secure a scholarship to pay for part of her tuition, and with YOUR help we are paying the balance of $350 for her tuition and the supplies she needs through the end of December.

And it keeps getting better:

One of the obstacles of communal living is finding a quiet corner for homework or seeking out a staff member to answer questions about assignments. So with YOUR help, we are now paying a portion of the salary of those employees at RISE and Pasitos whose time is spent encouraging and assisting the children who would possibly fall even further between the cracks without this extra attention.

BUT ALL of this was only possible because of you, our donors. As you read through the list of accomplishments, I hope you also noticed that most of the funding for these worthy causes has been paid only through December. So, yes, you will be hearing from us again when we ask for your support for the remainder of the school year.
Whether or not you participated in our Back to School Campaign this time, if you agree with our vision for these children’s future, we hope you will contribute to our cause for these children’s “second” semester.

Childhood Memories

Do you have a childhood friend who is still there for you?  Or a sibling you shared a bedroom with and at times, talked to till the wee hours of the night?  The Refugio Infantil Santa Esperanza (RISE) always reminds me that there are such children residing within its walls – children who many not be related through family ties, but who are together through situations beyond their control.

BFThrough the generosity of donors like you, RISE has been transformed into a wonderful testament of what can be accomplished together.  Although projects like new bathrooms and playground equipment are completed, we must never lose sight of the fact that this is NOT just a beautiful, empty building….instead it is the home for many children.  This “home,” this “refuge,” this “haven,” will be where their childhood memories are formed, their values strengthened and for most, their education completed. That is why your continued support is so vital!

Bella and Fatima are such children.  Many years ago I took a picture of them.  A recent photograph shows how they have grown and thrived in the nurturing environment that is RISE.  Both have known no other home.

Under the caring wings of a dedicated staff and generous supporters like you, we are confident that Bella and Fatima, and other children like them, will continue to have a safe place to call home.  To enrich the lives of all the children at RISE, some of the experiences we enjoyed in of our youth are now being offered to them. Each Saturday many of the children participate in the Boy and Girl Scouts program, taking hikes into the mountains or working to earn another badge.  During this summer break they are also attending the  “boot camp” program that Chris wrote about in her article.  And several of our girls who love to sing are being offered the change to lift their voices together –  a video on our website shows an impromptu performance.

It is a struggle each year to raise the essential funds needed to pay for just the basic expenses for this home called RISE. Our needs are even greater right now as we help the staff prepare the children for the beginning of school.  It is also hard for all of us at the Children Shelter of Hope Foundation to ask again for your help.   But this year we have an exciting opportunity that we know you will want to participate in – that being a matching funds campaign!!!!  Are you ready to join us?

Our “Forever Child”

On May 3rd, our very unique child at RISE turned 19.  Her name is MariCruz.  Possibly when you personally visited the Refugio you were greeted by this very vivacious girl and wondered about her sometimes “bizarre” behavior.  And many of you may have memories of your own regarding her – one of mine is when she decided to stuff her bra with a ½ kilo of warm, fresh tortillas – an event that did not make the Madres happy needless to say.

Several days before MariCruz’s birthday, Chris Amo told her if she was “good” we would take her to McDonald’s for lunch.  Every day we were greeted with the same questions, but FINALLY her day arrived and off we went.  The drive was a good time for us to “confirm” what she would be eating – but it was not the food, but the Estrella watch that came with her happy meal that delighted her the most.  While at McDonald’s she truly enjoyed greeting all with “Today is May 3rd and it is my birthday and I am 19.  What is your name?”  The kindness shown to us and HER by the staff and other patrons was greatly appreciated.

Continue reading “Our “Forever Child””