DSCN3550In our December newsletter we told you about 19 year old Micaela Hurtuk’s latest brilliant idea to provide “Shoes that Grow” to children in need of sturdy, long-lasting shoes in Puerto Vallarta.  Well, thanks to her efforts and some very generous donors, she and her family in early February brought and distributed 50 pairs of these amazing shoes to some very excited and happy children and teens living in the impoverished areas near New Beginnings.

IMG_5942 2In addition, Micaela, who is in 11th grade at Sage International Charter School in Boise, Idaho, raised almost $2000 more, allowing us recently to buy the “boxing class” students new tennis shoes, plus new shoes for many of the SOS scholarship students.  AND, the Shoe Fairy will have funds for more shoe purchases for many months to come.

THANK YOU, Micaela – you are a shining example of what young people with vision and determination can accomplish.

Meet a few of our newest SOS Super Students

IMG_5939Dashany Anahy Valdivia Arreola is 19 years old and is studying to become a chef.  She is a sophomore in a 4 year program in culinary arts at Instituto Technologico de Valles de Banderas and is an excellent student.
Dashany lives with her mother, twin sister (see below) and two brothers in the San Juan de Abajo neighborhood outside of Puerto Vallarta.  Her mother works two full time jobs in order to support  the family.  Dashany mentioned her mother as the person she most admires because of her strength and determination to always do everything in her power to give her children what they need.  Her father abandoned the family when she and her sister were very young and has very little contact now with any of the children.

Reading and exercising are both important activities for Dashany.  She lifts weights, loves to dance, and visits the library frequently.  Her goal, with financial support from Children’s Shelter of Hope’s SOS (Sponsor One Student) program, is to complete her four-year degree program and to own a business within five years.  She is driven and focused, and is convinced that her dreams will be reached if she continues to work hard to achieve them.

IMG_5944Josahandy Valdivia Arreola is Dashany’s twin sister.  She, at age 19, is a sophomore in a four-year program in tourism at UDEG University.  She, too, has inherited the strength and focus of her single-parent mother, and has always earned excellent grades at school.
Josahandy loves arts and crafts, design, sewing, and anything that requires creativity.  She also loves to sing; although she says that she would be embarrassed to sing in public.  Her goal is to finish her degree in tourism and then travel the world.  She wants to experience different cultures and see as many countries as she possibly can.  She is a bit shy, but very determined to have a successful future.

IMG_5758Francisco Javier Ramos Mejia (Paco) has a very inspirational story.  He is 21 years old and is in his third year of medical school at Centro Universitario la Costa (CUCI). He has been living on his own since he was 14 years old and now cares for his younger brother as well.  They live together in a very humble one- room shack above his grandparents’ house.  He has two other siblings.
Francisco is a very entrepreneurial person.  When he is not at medical school, he is currently an event organizer.  He conducts puppet shows and does documentaries.  He wants to use his medical degree to work in disadvantaged areas.  Paco also wants to change the Mexican medical system and focus it more on preventative.  He feels that Mexico unnecessarily spends too much money to treat the symptoms of medical problems and that this money could be better used to prevent those problems in the first place.  He is a very intelligent, outgoing, thoughtful, and articulate individual.

These special students are role-models for their friends and family because they understand the importance and power of a good education.  A donation of $300 will make it possible to pay for a full semester of school tuition, uniforms, shoes, books, etc. for one of our SOS students.  PLEASE help us to make a difference by sending a donation today marked “For SOS” or specifically for any one of these amazing young people.

“Oh Say Can You See?” or In Mexico – “José Can You See?”

One of our board members recently noted the lack of eyeglasses worn by street and beach vendors and their children in Puerto Vallarta, and this raised an important question – “How do poor people get eye exams and glasses?”  Since public schools do not offer vision screening and eyeglasses are very expensive, many people are forced to “get by” with poor vision or may not even be aware of not seeing clearly.  Children struggle in school and may fail to learn to read because they cannot focus clearly on a printed page.  Seeing well can help you to do well.

glassesJust as we found out with Micaela’s Shoes That Grow project (updated below) people are constantly coming up with bright, inexpensive ideas to help those in need around the world.  We recently heard about Scot Love from Glasses for Missions, a ministry of EE International (  Their focus is to meet this important physical need for improved vision as they share the Gospel and share God’s love with those receiving eyeglasses. They provide the necessary materials in a kit form and a two-day workshop to train up to 17 nationals and missionaries to make glasses for children and adults with vision issues.  The trained team then has the knowledge and resources to do eye exams and make over 300 pairs of glasses at outreach locations. They can also provide information about the importance of good vision and eye care. The frames will be made onsite in about 15 minutes, require no welding or soldering, and are very durable and attractive.  The process involves bending stainless steel wire on a simple jig using common hand tools, all provided in the kit, along with an assortment of lenses of various powers that pop into the frames.  The actual cost per pair of glasses is LESS THAN fifty cents! Yet, the difference this can make in the life of a child or adult is invaluable.

Our foundation board is anxious to obtain a kit and arrange for the training session right away.  The cost to Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation for the kit and training session to get us started is around $1000 US. Since our focus is on children and teens, we hope to involve many of our SOS students (see article below) in the training and then send them, with support and guidance from our wonderful Mexican representative, Bety, into secondarios (middle schools) and prepas (high schools) in poor neighborhoods to do exams and provide needed glasses to students.  What a powerful message to have our dedicated, focused SOS students helping other students in need of support.  We are very excited about the possibilities with this new project.

Picture1If you would like to help make this happen please send a donation right away marked “For Eyeglasses” so that we can purchase the kit and arrange for Scot to come for the training.

An Intersection of Two Dreams

Casa Connor 5In 1999, when Yolanda Sanchez decided to dedicate her life toward children with disabilities and helping their families, she founded Pasitos de Luz (little steps of light), a day-care facility, in a small house owned by her family.  For eighteen years she, her staff, and volunteers have been providing free services of nutrition, physical rehabilitation, special education, and much more to these special children. Over 120 families benefit regularly from these services; however there is a waitlist of many more needing therapy and treatment.Casa Connor 4In 2011, Yolanda had a dream of a new, much larger facility, and as fate and karma would have it, Peter and Teena Oudman shared this same dream.  They became involved in finding donors and volunteers so that construction for Casa Connor could begin.  Teena and Peter have devoted their efforts over the past five years to building a new 22,000 square foot facility for Pasitos de Luz, and on October 20, 2016  Yolanda and the Oudmans, along with community members and families of children with disabilities, celebrated that their dreams have come true.  Now with the building construction complete, they are only baby steps away from being able to improve and expand services to the current children, take on new families, and provide much needed respite for families who live with special needs children in poverty.  However, Casa Connor 2Casa Connor still needs essential equipment – beds, tables and chairs for the dining area, soft sofas for holding the little ones, shelves, etc. before they can move the children and staff into this wonderful new rehabilitation center.  They also need funding assistance for hiring more medical personnel, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc. to meet the needs of their growing group.  If your heart is touched, as ours have been, by these dreams and the realities they are making possible please consider making a donation through our foundation for Pasitos de Luz/ Casa Connor.

A Gift to Yourself or Someone You Love

By Connie Vincent, former Board Member and constant supporter of CSHF

ConnieCancer. Alzheimer’s. These are two of our most feared words, and I hope you and your family are never touched by either of these diseases. In my case, I have seen my husband fight lung cancer and my mother live with Alzheimer’s.  But I have learned that with the right knowledge and action we can survive cancer and prevent Alzheimer’s.

I have some good news for you.  My book Not Going Gently, a fusion of Alzheimer’s science and memoir, is now also available in Spanish, both in print and on Kindle as No Me Iré Dócilmente:  El relato de una psicóloga que lucha contra la enfermedad de Alzheimer, por su madre. ..y quizá por ella misma.  Translation credits go to Ingrid Acosta G. in Bogota, Colombia.

If you haven’t already read this book in English (or even if you have!), now would be a good time to read it again or give it as a gift ––because in both languages the introductory price of the Kindle edition ($6.99) is reduced 30% for a limited time.

Spanish coverPaperback copies can be obtained through at a cost of $12.95 for the Spanish edition or $12.50 for the English version.  AND I will make a donation of 50% of my royalties to Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation for each book, Spanish or English, ordered through Amazon.  Please simply drop me an email at when you order so that I can track the donation properly.

How else can you practice your language skills and learn how to prevent Alzheimer’s while reading an engaging mother/daughter memoir?

Check it out on or on