Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HAITI :: Help put an end to hunger pains

Deaf students sharing their one substantial meal per day, THANKS TO YOU
(all photos courtesy of West Tennessee Haiti Partnership)
Our hearts break a little more with each new conversation with Father Sadoni only to hear that the food crisis for the children at St. Vincent’s is not improving as we had hoped. While a partnership of teams researches both aquaponic and aeroponic garden solutions for St. Vincent’s long-term sustainability and to minimize future food shortages, there is still a real need to fill the children’s bellies now

This, friends, is where your support continues to be critical. 

St. Vincent's serves as a dormitory, school and community for the deaf and blind as well as those missing limbs and children who have impaired cognitive abilities. Due to unforeseen circumstances, St. Vincent's lost it’s main food donor in 2013. Ever since, Fr. Sadoni has been working fervently to establish a new food source for the children so they can grow and thrive while in his care.

Currently, the residential students and the live-in caregivers receive two meals per day. The breakfast is light, usually bread and butter. Lunch consists of a single plate of beans and rice. All meal service for non-residential students (close to 200 children) has been put on hold with no reinstatement date in sight.

In an attempt to ward off hunger pains at bedtime, older residents—mainly teens and young adults—set aside a portion of their lunch to eat in the evening. The younger kids often don’t fare as well. No doubt it is difficult for the smallest ones to set aside part of their meal when their stomachs are still growling.

To add to their plight, the filter on the St. Vincent’s water purification system needed to be changed and the system shut down, temporarily cutting off their water supply. Thankfully, this should be rectified quickly, hopefully by the end of this week.

The situation is bleak now, but there is always hope! Our friends from West Tennessee Haiti Partnership were at St. Vincent’s last week to provide well-child checkups and reported that the kids are still relatively healthy. They were kind enough to snap a few pics of the kids at lunch time (pictured here). The children's spirits were high and, as usual, they thoroughly enjoyed having the US team in their midst for the week. They are doing remarkably well under the circumstances. 

With your WONDERFUL HELP, we met and exceeded our $12,000 food goal in March 2014. For this we extend our gratitude as do the children! However, in lieu of the circumstances, our team has decided to continue the food drive until the situation changes for the better. 

With your gifts, we will continue to feed the kids in the short-term, ending their hunger pains NOW, while long-term solutions are set in motion. THANK YOU for both your gifts and sharing this need with others who may be in a position to help. 

Every gift counts.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: An open invitation to the farm

Jacob's Fund Director and one of the therapy horses
A Jacob's Fund volunteer staining wood
Can you feel the warmth of the sun?
Can you smell the fresh country air?
Can you hear the horses whinnying?
Are you ready to get your hands dirty?
If not, that time is coming!

The Red Thread team is taking the first mission trip of 2014 to McKenna Farms. We’ll be heading to Dallas, Georgia for a 4-day trip April 24 – 27. We’d like YOU to consider joining us. 

The Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail
The horse barn and temporary sleeping quarters upstairs
The Red Thread team will be spreading love to the kids, meeting the horses, working on the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail, planting flowers, mulching, weeding and anything else that needs doing. We’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the patients and their families, spend time with some of the therapists, and see the magnificent horses that help provide this healing therapy.

The details
  • McKenna Farms is located at 3044 Due West Road, Dallas, Georgia 30157
  • Plan to arrive on Thursday, April 24 in the late afternoon or evening. 
  • Volunteers will sleep in a combination of therapy buildings, in the farm house or above the barn. 
  • Plan to bring your own sleeping bag or air mattress / sheets / blankets, bath towels and toiletries. 
  • Meals will be provided all day Friday and all day Saturday. If you have dietary restrictions, just let us know and we’ll accommodate.
  • Plan on cool nights and warm days. 
  • Horses, hay, dirt, weeds, mulch, paint and wood stain are all part of the mix. Dress accordingly.
  • Departure is after breakfast on Sunday, April 27.
  • The cost is $100 per participant. 
  • Space is limited.

How do I volunteer?
To request an application or learn more, please contact Jacob’s Fund Director, Glenna Fisher at 513.423.0108 or

Applications are due April 12, 2014.

We look forward to meeting you in Georgia!

Child receiving therapy
Volunteers bringing in the horses for the night

Thursday, March 20, 2014

HAITI :: $12,000 goal reached!

$12,000 will provide 14,400 meals!
Your generous spirits have shone vibrantly since we told you about the food crisis at St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. Today we are ecstatic to share that we reached our goal of $12,000 to help feed the children! This will provide 14,400 meals and keep their stomachs full for quite some time. 

We are humbled by your amazing response and thrilled that so many of you shared the need with others to broaden our reach. In short, we couldn't have done this without you and we are so grateful.

TRTP Vice President guest lecturer at The Ohio State University

Mendenhall Laboratory, The Ohio State University
TUESDAY, March 18 :: Honored to be invited as a guest lecturer at The Ohio State University, TRTP Vice President Sonya Yencer spoke with students at the John Glen School of Public Affairs in a non-profit management class. 

She shared her experience in marketing a 501(c)(3) from the ground up with little to no budget, focussing on how social media plays a huge part in that strategy. Students watched TRTP videos from Tell Collective and Physicians For Peace and surfed through TRTP's online presence as part of the presentation. She talked about the challenges of growing the organization without a paid staff, fundraising and cultivating volunteers. Students asked great questions and sparked some new ideas for The Red Thread's outreach team.

What a great opportunity to share real world experience with the young adults interested in the non-profit world! Thank you Kim Ratcliff and The Ohio State University / John Glen School of Public Affairs for allowing us to be a part of the class for a night.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

HAITI :: $5 million dollar donation for St. Vincent's

(left) Father Sadoni, Director of St. Vincent's
(center) Mary White
(right) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
photo credit: Mary Frances Schjonberg

We are tickled pink to share that St. Vincent's recently received a $5,000,000 gift from a donor in New York. This gift will allow the center to begin it's rebuilding efforts more than 4 years after the devastating earthquake.

Who is this benefactor and why a gift so large to St. Vincent's? 

Mary White is a physician and member of St. James Episcopal Church in Manhattan. Ms. White remarked that at St. Vincent's "the needs are in sync with who I am. These are children, many of whom have been abandoned by their parents. I'm an adoptive mom; I'm a physician and it's a place where a lot of medical care is given." 

Her gift is by far the largest donation she has ever made. “For me as an individual I have never done anything like this; not even close,” she said. “I felt euphoric afterwards,” she said. “I felt that God meant this to be.”*

It all goes back to connections, the foundation on which The Red Thread Promise is built. 

Who do you feel connected to today? 
And what are you going to do about it?

*See the full article

Thursday, February 27, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: The benefits of equine therapy

Cameron and Landon
Over the years, we’ve witnessed some pretty amazing things. Time and time again, the silken red thread has brought people from all walks of life together to help children in need. We love sharing these stories with you, but no story is quite as good as being there in person, to better understand something to the fullest.

That’s why we’ve created a new video about hippotherapy: to help our supporters better understand how life-changing equine therapy can be for children. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video must be worth at least 1,000,000. 

In the video, you'll hear Cameron and Landon's mother, Melissa, share her boys progress since they began hippo therapy. Recently, she also sent this update: 
Both boys are now potty trained! Cameron is learning to read and write this year. He is almost completely independent and thriving. Landon has recently learned to answer questions and understands yes and no. I am very close to having a conversation with him. The other day he brought me some play food and asked me if I was hungry. I almost fell off the couch! It was the best play food I have ever eaten and a moment I will hold dear to my heart. He has learned to read his name first and last and is singing about 5 songs. We are forever blessed to have had help along this journey and are eternally grateful to The Red Thread Promise. To God be the Glory! ~ Melissa

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

HAITI :: The red thread of destiny meets Widline

(Photo courtesy of New Life For Haiti / Todd Pierson)
What does our name mean? Over the past 10 years we've answered this question dozens of times, but our recent encounter with Widline, a 14-year-old Haitian girl, explains it beautifully. We'd like to share her story with you.

The Red Thread Promise's name is rooted in an ancient Chinese proverb that speaks of a silken red thread of destiny that connects us all. It is said that this thread may tangle or stretch, yet never break. People who are destined to connect will do so, regardless of location or circumstance. When we feel the tug of the red thread from a child in need, it is our promise to help.

Over the past few months, Widline began tugging. And it's through an unlikely set of circumstances that we met her.

(Photo courtesy of New Life For Haiti / Todd Pierson)
In the summer of 2012, in a small village on the far west peninsula of Haiti, Widline was with friends, doing what they usually do when the intense Haiti heat reaches the brutal point; they were taking turns jumping off a ridge into the Grande Anse River. Childhood fun turned to tragedy when Widline made her final jump. As she began the plunge into the cool river, she struck a submerged tree limb, sustaining serious injuries that left her in severe pain.

Doctors are rare in her isolated community. She hurt constantly for four months before she was able to be seen. The initial diagnosis: a spinal injury for which she received a brace and crutches. But her young body had already begun to heal incorrectly, leaving her with a permanent limp and pain, unable to navigate the dirt paths safely in her community, go to school or help around the house. Her life was turned upside-down in a single moment.

Volunteers from New Life For Haiti working in her village came to know Widline and her family. Touched by her circumstances, they wanted to help this little girl. The red thread became visible as their team began the lengthy process to secure her a passport and raise funds for corrective surgery in Chicago (USA).

X-ray of Widline's pelvis
(Photo courtesy of New Life For Haiti / Todd Pierson)
Knowing that it may take the better part of a year for Widline to make it to the states, mutual friends of both organizations asked if The Red Thread could help. A storm of emails and conference calls ensued, making the red thread visible again, as we connected Widline to our partner, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bheki Khumalo (TN). Dr. Khumalo agreed to see Widline during his visit to Haiti the next week. Following a series of x-rays and a full evaluation, it was determined that she did not have a spinal injury, but rather a fractured hip. Dr. Khumalo proposed a comprehensive plan for her treatment in Haiti, saving thousands of dollars and avoiding the tremendous culture shock that a child from a remote village would likely sustain in urban Chicago.

Dr. Khumalo
(Photo courtesy of West Tennessee Haiti Partnership)
The red thread wove its silken way through this child’s journey: from a remote village to a team of American volunteers to the Red Thread Promise, and finally to Dr. Khumalo. Each of us felt its tug, urging us to work together for this ONE child’s health and wellbeing. Sometimes it takes money; sometimes a volunteer willing to go the extra mile; and sometimes it takes phone calls and emails to make a lasting difference in a child’s life.

That’s what The Red Thread Promise is all about: advocating for needy children to provide the best medical care available to kids like Widline who have no access to the treatment they need to lead healthy, productive lives. That’s her story and our story, connected by the red thread of destiny. That’s who we are. And we’re glad you’re a part of it.

Widline's home and family
(Photo courtesy of New Life For Haiti / Todd Pierson)