Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wheelchair Promise Program

We wanted to share our new All Terrain Wheelchairs with you. They are RED and we are loving it! Each one will come with a tag that says "Donated by The Red Thread Promise". This is the style that will be used for all future shipments to Haiti and wherever else they are needed.

To date, we have raised funds for 160 wheelchairs! Our first shipment is already in port in Haiti but has not yet cleared customs. The second container is completed and will be shipped as soon as we understand what is holding up the first container in Port-au-Prince.

Included in the second container are additional medical supplies for St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children, including:
  • adult- and child-sized wheelchair sizes
  • seat belts for children's wheelchairs
  • canes
  • crutches
  • scales
  • electric instrument sanitizer
  • 3 test wheelchairs: trike wheelchair, recliner, porter
  • repair/maintenance parts
  • tarps
Our rugged, all terrain chairs are $325 each, adult- or child-sized. The price includes shipping.

If you are interested in sending a wheelchair to a needy child, please send your donation to our address (top right) or you can pay electronically via PayPal. Clearly mark "wheelchair" in the memo line.

Thank you for your support of our Wheelchair Promise Program.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gift giving this holiday season

As we enjoy this Thanksgiving day and Black Friday looms on the horizon, many people are gearing up to engage in the busiest shopping season of the year. Hours spent online or running from store to store, searching for a parking spot, enduring long lines, comparing prices, looking for the perfect gift.

According to the National Retail Federation's 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, "U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping... NRF continues to expect holiday sales to rise 2.3 percent to $447.1 billion."

If the online shopping forecast from ComSource becomes a reality, "total online holiday spending will reach $32.4 billion this year, up 11% from last year's $29.1 billion... Online spending totals are already surpassing those of 2007—before the recession— which leads (us) to believe that this season will see record sales."

Commercialism is alive and well around the world. But maybe you are searching for something more meaningful, a gift that keeps on giving.

This year, The Red Thread Promise challenges all of our family, fans and friends to "Change your gift giving and transform your heart".

Please take a moment to read our latest appeal and consider including The Red Thread Promise in your gift giving this holiday season. (Double-click on the image to enlarge.)

Being Thankful

On this Thanksgiving day, we wanted to share this excellent editorial from the Pickerington newspaper (Pickerington, Ohio) by a writer who recently traveled to Haiti. (Double-click on the article to enlarge.) She so captured the spirit of the Haitian children in her words!

What she described is what draws us to this tiny country—that silken red thread of destiny revealed in a child's enormous eyes and wide smile.

We are thankful for Joanne, who shared these words with us today.
We are thankful for the opportunity to work with children, to make a difference in their lives.
We are thankful for your positive thoughts, prayers and financial support.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CHINA :: ORPHAN UPDATE - Hua, then and now

January 2008

March 2008


May 2008

December 2008

June 2009

October 2010

Here is our handsome boy, Hua, from Love Without Boundaries. Once a tiny premature baby, he has grown into a healthy almost-3-year-old.

Hua was born prematurely during the incredibly harsh winter of January 2008 in the Anhui Province of the People’s Republic of China. He weighed only 1kg (2.2 lbs) when he was born and was in need of serious medical treatment so that he could learn to eat on his own, gain weight and thrive.

The Red Thread Promise teamed with Angel Covers and Love Without Boundaries to provide Hua the intensive care hospitalization and round-the-clock care he needed to survive. Hua remained in critical condition for several months, receiving special formula and specialized care that our partnership was able to provide.

Due to this early intervention, Hua thrived. He learned to suck on his own and take all feedings by bottle. He was eventually released from the hospital and has been growing like a weed ever since.

His birthday is coming up in January 2011 where he will celebrate in the orphanage (the actual date is unknown). Thank you to everyone who supported him in his infancy. He is going to make a great addition to a special family some day.

The Red Thread Promise is proud to provide the medical treatment that these little ones need— procedures and care that they would not otherwise have access to. We hope that you will find it in your heart to support our mission.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Orleans – Day 2, Part 3

After hearing about what a special place St. Vincent’s was to the disabled population in and around Port-au-Prince, the room fell silent as Fr. Sadoni recounted his personal experience the day Haiti shook.

The day that changed everything...

On January 12, 2010, Fr. Sadoni was driving to meet with a parishioner. He felt the car begin to shake violently and they were suddenly being pulled off the road. The air was thick with clouds of dust, forcing Sadoni and his 2 passengers to stay with the car, waiting for the air to clear. When they could see again, they realized that the streets were impassible. So they moved the car to the sidewalk, and journeyed on foot to the parish and then on to St. Vincent’s.

People walked the streets in shock, searching for family members

The destruction was unimaginable. They passed “people sobbing, body parts in the streets”, people wandering around in shock, buildings flattened, rubble everywhere. When they reached St. Vincent’s, the two-story buildings that housed the dormitories, clinics and school had collapsed into the middle of the street. It was as if someone had given the building a nudge and tipped it over.

St. Vincent's buildings collapsed into the street

The students were terrified and confused. Thankfully, St. Vincent’s staff moved swiftly and were already evacuating the children from the damaged buildings when Sadoni arrived. (Author’s note: I can not imagine helping 350 healthy children during these circumstances, let alone blind, deaf and disabled children using crutches, canes and wheelchairs.)

Ten people from St. Vincent’s lost their life that day: 7 precious children and 3 dedicated employees. In the midst of their mourning, the group continued to focus on the living, helping to reunite families and caring for those whose permanent home was St. Vincent’s.

After 5 long days, the staff was able to locate one of the missing children, whom they presumed was dead. Instead, she had made her way to her family’s church. She was trapped in the debris there for 4 days before she was rescued and returned to St. Vincent’s.

With no shelter, the staff, children and Sadoni spent one week living on an open soccer field. They received no support from the locals who didn’t sustain damage from the quake. It was truly “every family for himself”.

The “growing smell of decay” forced the group to move out of Port-au-Prince in one of the only things they had left: their bus. They headed north to Montrouis where they lived in tents on church property for several weeks. The kids loved being out of Port-au-Prince but they were deathly afraid of the ocean with threats of a tsunami. Warner, a faithful employee of St. Vincent’s, played guitar every day, a blessing that helped to soothe the children.

Students with Fr. Sadoni and Fr. Squire in Montrouis

During their time in Montrouis, everything that was not destroyed in the earthquake was stolen from St. Vincent’s campus. Desperate people looted everything, including all documentation.

Upon the groups’ return to Port-au-Prince, Sadoni worked to find someone to clear the rubble from property. With help from Children Mission for the Blind, they were able to coordinate with the French Army to clear the area. Thankfully some of the doors, tables, furniture that was not destroyed or stolen was salvaged. But most everything was gone.

The French Army clearing the site

Today, the entire space has been cleared and is ready for rebuilding

And that’s where The Red Thread Promise steps in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Orleans - Day 2, Part 2

We’d like to paint a picture of St. Vincent’s for you, based on our conversations with Fr. Sadoni, Priest in Charge of Ephiphanie Church and St. Vincent’s Director for the past 3 years.


Exterior of St. Vincent's

St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children School and Medical Facility was, and still is, a unique place in the heart of Port-au-Prince. It was the first school in Haiti to care for disabled children and, over the past 65 years, has never lost its focus. Located just one block away from the Presidential palace, St. Vincent’s serves some of the most disadvantaged children in the city—blind, deaf and mute children as well as those with other physical disabilities—with ages ranging from 5 to 18. It is the only facility in Haiti to work with the blind.

The school began with just 70 children and has grown to serve 350, 150 of which are living in the dormitories. The center provides education and continuous health care to these exceptional young people, teaching them the skills necessary to take care of themselves beyond their time at St. Vincent’s and prepares them to become productive members of Haitian society.

Another equally important goal of the center is to change Haitian’s perception of people with disabilities. They envision a future where these exceptional children receive high quality care and access to mainstream opportunities in both school and work no matter where they are in Haiti.

Three different groups of children arrive at St. Vincent’s door on a daily basis:
  • Day students come to school every day but return home in the evening.
  • Boarding students stay year round but go home during vacation.
  • Displaced and orphaned students live at the center year round. It is their home.
The school provides both elementary and secondary education. The basics of reading, writing, math, history and geography are taught. English is taught during the 3rd cycle. The classroom structure for the school is as follows:
  • Kindergarten: 5 year olds
  • 1st cycle: 6-9 year olds
  • 2nd cycle: 9-12 year olds
  • 3rd cycle: 12-15 year olds
One of the many classrooms

St. Vincent’s respects the different learning styles and capabilities of its varied student population. The center seeks out the highest level of teachers for the classrooms. They are also committed to developing partnerships with other organizations that work with disabled people in order to insure that the services delivered on site are of the highest caliber.

Some of the deaf students

The school deals with its deaf children differently than all other schools in Port-au-Prince. While everyone else teaches lip reading, St. Vincent’s teaches its students sign language. Unlike Braille, which is universal, sign language is not. It is generally taught in the spoken language of each country. Since the nuns who started St. Vincent’s were from Massachusetts, both American and French sign is taught.

Blind students learn to read and write in Braille and also work with music. The school had a music room where the students have lessons and study. Many excel in this field and aid in teaching the younger students.

St. Vincent’s housed multiple single-room clinics including orthopedic, auditory, optical, neurological and general where children could be seen for their various maladies as well as a surgical room, pharmacy and brace shop where orthopedic braces and prosthesis are made. Operated by local physicians and volunteers, these services were made available to both the students of the center as well as local residents.

The brace shop was another unique aspect of the center. Not only was it the first facility to fit and make prostheses and braces in Haiti, but it also has the distinction of being the only facility in Haiti that is entirely staffed by deaf employees. Full-time workers make and repair prosthetics, orthopedic bracing, crutches, and other apparatus needed to correct many deformities for residents and local people.

St. Vincent’s was (and still is) truly a gem, deep in the heart of Haiti.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

JACOB'S FUND - McKenna Farms spruced up by Home Depot teams

Three Home Depot teams from the Atlanta area joined forces this week on a Team Depot project to help a local non-profit, McKenna Farms Therapy Services. On Thursday, November 4th, district teams 2, 87 and 234 in the Atlanta market sent 30 volunteers to work at McKenna Farms, an organization that specializes in therapy for special needs children.

Volunteers worked diligently throughout the day to greatly enhance the landscaping around the non-profit's main building. They cleaned up the existing landscaping, planted over 30 new live plants including azaleas and other shrubs, and spread new mulch.

Another group of volunteers erected a fence and spread gravel in an area that would be a new employee parking lot, while others provided much needed maintenance to a horse trail. This trail, The Jacob Beachy Memorial Sensory Trail, was originally built two years ago by a Team Depot project with a team from the Mid-South region.

The trail is named after Jacob Beachy, the namesake of The Red Thread's own Jacob's Fund. Jacob’s Fund provides hippotherapy to children with chronic disabling conditions in the Atlanta area. It is a specialized form of physical therapy in which a horse is used for treatment. Numerous children at McKenna Farms have received our help through Jacob’s Fund. The results are amazing improvements in speech and vocabulary as well as improved muscle control and balance.

Thank you, Home Depot, for caring about these exceptional children.

Jacob Noah Beachy was born on May 21, 2004; he died on July 21, 2007. Our work through Jacob's Fund is to honor his life by helping other children enjoy the fullest possible lives.

CHINA :: ORPHAN UPDATE - Yin Xi, part 2

Please keep Yin Xi in your thoughts and prayers. We just found out that he was admitted to the ICU yesterday with meningitis. They suspect it is viral because the IV therapy that he received last week should have killed nearly anything. This complication will affect his surgery date. But it is certainly better to wait until he is 100% well before doing such an invasive procedure.

Also on our minds today are the 35 other babies and toddlers as well as their caregivers at Swallows Nest. The weather has already changed in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, and is much colder. The heat in the building is regulated by the city and the "turn on" date isn't for a few more weeks. So they bundle the babies up and use space heaters but it is still cold, thus increasing the chance for sickness and pneumonia.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Little Yin Xi is now 5 weeks old and gaining much needed weight in preparation for his upcoming spina bifida surgery. Unfortunately, harsh winters can take a toll on these fragile children.

Since our last update, Yin Xi developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital on October 30th. He has since been released into the care of Swallows Nest where, under the doctor's direction, they administer his medications and give him the love and affection needed for his full recovery. Thankfully, all pre-surgical testing is complete and now we wait for his health to stabilize so we can proceed.

According to Swallows Nest, he is eating well again but cries alot and appears uncomfortable. He will be taken back to the hospital on Wednesday but his caregivers are unsure if he will be well enough to admit and receive the procedure. We will keep you updated on his health and progress.

To date, The Red Thread Promise has raised and sent $2,000 toward his surgery (total cost is $5,000). Although we have not yet reached the full amount, having given nearly half will help Swallows Nest in their efforts to secure additional funding. Every little bit counts.

In late October 2010, a post-surgical 18 month old from Swallows Nest was adopted. We are hopeful with this early intervention, Yin Xi will also be so fortunate. Next year we want to give you an update that he has gone to his forever family all because of your generosity - all because you cared about the health of a baby you will probably never meet.

We encourage you to prayerfully consider support Yin Xi by making a donation to The Red Thread Promise. Simply put "Yin Xi" or alternately "China baby" in the memo line of your check or PayPal.