Friday, October 26, 2012

HAITI :: Hurricane Sandy roars through Port-au-Prince

The following message comes from one of our partners in Haiti, Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax, who just returned from Port-au-Prince. Once again, this tiny nation has been hit with a natural disaster, devastating the people even more. Below are his observations of Port-au-Prince and the circumstances surrounding those living in the area. 


Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax
I am writing you to let you know of the situation in Haiti following Hurricane Sandy. I just returned from a trip to Port-au-Prince. The situation is devastating. The storm stayed for almost five days. The rain fell without ceasing. The wind was very strong. The streets are flooded. In some areas the water is waist deep. On my drive to and from Port-au-Prince, I saw many bridges that have fallen and are destroyed. I have seen streets that I pass everyday, now are rushing rivers. As much as this saddens me, I am not surprised. With the infrastructure we have, these results are to be expected. The departments that were affected the most were the South, South East, West, Nippes, and Grand Anse. It saddens me that school just began three weeks ago, and already there is another problem for the people of Haiti. There are many people who were still living in tents or in unsafe housing, and the hurricane took away what shelter they had. Hurricane Sandy has left many people displaced and with no place to turn to. Many families in Haiti already had a difficult time providing for their families. Now after the hurricane, it is more difficult to find food to eat, and people who give food cannot provide for everyone who needs it. I am asking for you to please continue to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. It means so much to me, and to the Haitian people. Thank you so much for these prayers and for everything you have done for us already. It is appreciated so much. I cannot put into words how you have helped the people of Haiti.


As always, please keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Like-minded folks

Rotary President Bob Competti
It is always our pleasure to speak with like-minded folks who share our passion for service. In the past months, our schedule has been filled with presentations to churches, civic groups and Rotary Clubs all the way from Louisiana to Ohio.

Just this week, The Red Thread Promise received a warm welcome from Lancaster Rotary (Ohio #375). Sonya (Vice President) and Glenna (Jacob's Fund Director) savored the opportunity to hear about this club's volunteerism in their community as well as their strong mentoring program for foreign exchange and local high school students. Rotary's motto, "service above self" marries so well with our own mission. 

Then it was our turn, sharing our own stories about the work we engage in the United States through Jacob's Fund. We introduced the club to Cameron, Landon and Brandon, sharing how hippotherapy and therapeutic riding are changing their lives.

The children's book donated in The Red Thread's honor
At the end of the meeting, Rotary President Bob Competti presented Sonya with a book being donated to the local library in honor of The Red Thread Promise, a practice this Club has long employed. It was very touching to see the care taken in choosing a children's book with a red theme and the beautiful bookplate inside.

We are happy to have met this caring group of individuals. What a great addition to our busy week!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Tony atop Pumpkin during therapy
A positive outlook
On the beautiful, misty Friday morning of September’s trip to McKenna Farms, Glenna spotted Tony and his therapist, Kristen, leading Pumpkin—a strikingly beautiful horse— from the barn to the outdoor arena. As they walked, Tony was telling Kristen, “Well, not every weekend can be a great weekend!” 

That’s so typical of Tony – he brings a positive attitude to all life’s challenges of which he has endured many. 

Glenna greeted him at the gate of the arena. Tony vigorously shook Glenna’s hand, replying in his unfailingly polite manner, that he was unable to talk right then as he needed to focus on his riding. Glenna stepped aside, watched them enter the arena and quietly observed his session with the therapist. 

One of the most beautiful moments was in the ring, after warming up the horse for the ride. Kristen regarded Tony and said, “Pumpkin looks really happy this morning. Do you think he’s happy?” Tony replied simply: “He’s happy. I’m happy. There’s a big smile on my face!” 

Jacob’s Fund wants to keep that smile on Tony’s face. If you’d like to help, donations can be made via check (to the address at the top right) or via our handy PayPal button (right sidebar). Thank you for you continued support of children in the United States.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Tony and Pumpkin

Good hearts and good heads 
Sharing the many ways children’s lives have improved because of your support is our gift of thanks to YOU. Our recent visit to McKenna Farms allowed us to follow up with Jacob’s Fund Kids, hear about their journeys, celebrate their successes and offer additional support as necessary. 

During that trip, our team was able to visit with Tony, a Jacob’s Fund scholarship recipient. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Tony’s journey has been a hard one and life continues to throw challenges in his path.

For most children, their mother is the foundation of their world. For Tony, his mom, Carol, was all that and more: she was his caretaker and complete support system. After only two years of therapy at the Farm, Tony’s mother was given a diagnosis of esophageal cancer, inoperable and terminal.

The underpinnings of Tony’s world collapsed. The family’s resources and energy centered on his mother's health and care. Without a stable home life and unable to continue his therapy sessions, Tony began to withdraw; his attitude and behavior began slipping. 

That’s when Jacob’s Fund stepped in. Thanks to your help, we were able to provide continuous weekly therapeutic riding, and Tony went on to qualify for the 2011 Equestrian Special Olympics. In her last weeks, Carol was able to watch her son compete and capture medals, cheering for each victory!

Shortly thereafter, Tony’s world turned upside down. Since his mother’s passing, he has become homebound, spending most of his time on the computer or just listening to music. His family is often absent and opportunities for outings are practically nonexistent as are social interactions. Thankfully, a weekend caregiver drives him to the Farm once a week for his one-hour sessions, the only consistent thing in his life. 

Tony recently completed a work adjustment program offered by the state of Georgia and successfully worked at Goodwill, TJ Maxx and other short-term jobs, with transportation provided by the state. Back at home, and without transportation, Tony is unable to hold a job, something he desperately wants and needs. He is currently on a waiting list for life-skills classes as well as for placement in a group home.  

While his body grows thinner and thinner, his hope and optimism is heartbreakingly beautiful. Tony may never be able to live independently. But his urge to take charge of as much of his life as he possibly can inspires us to find ways to help him live his life in the fullest possible way.

We know The Red Thread Promise community is full of good hearts and good heads. As you consider Tony’s story, we are open to fresh ideas for how to further help this wonderful young man, so full of hope and potential! If you or someone you know has experience working with adults with autism, we’d like to hear from you. Responses can be sent to

Monday, October 8, 2012

ATW :: Nicaragua / Juan update

Juan on the day he received his new ATW

Remember Juan in Nicaragua? Juan received one of our All Terrain Wheelchairs (ATW) in late 2011. Lucy, our contact from Accion Esperanza / Partnership for Hope (Ashland, OR), recently visited Juan in his community of El Lagartillo and shared these brief updates:

  • Work is underway to make the front entrance to Juan's house wheelchair accessible
  • Juan received the replacement parts for his ATW (including new tubes and tools)
  • He was pleased to note that the replacement tires for his ATW are a standard size bicycle tire that is locally available

"It is far superior to any chair I have ever been in. 
It is fast and stable and looks forward to using it daily."
~ Juan

We will continue to update you on Juan as information becomes available. Thank you to our donors for their prayers and financial support of our programs. Together we are indeed making a difference.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

JACOB'S FUND :: McKenna Farms part 4

Lauren, a gold medalist in the 2012 Equestrian Special Olympics 

Amidst the weeds, dirt and stain, we were able to observe children receiving hippotherapy as well as those doing therapeutic riding in the outdoor arena. Team members had the opportunity to visit with patients and their families as they arrived, listening to their stories of how this unique therapy has changed the life of their child or grandchild. Their accounts of children learning to balance, to walk, to say words, to form sentences, and achieve a multitude of accomplishments that they never dreamed they were capable of warmed our hearts. These stories affirmed the importance of the scholarships Jacob's Fund provides so that children can receive this life-changing treatment even if their family is undergoing financial hardship.

A young rider receiving hippotherapy

Parents and grandparents thanked our team for what we were doing on behalf of the children, whether they were the recipients of a Jacob's Fund scholarship or not. Team members received hugs and blessings from complete strangers who appreciated us and our work. Riders thanked us for posting their photos and stories on our blog. It was humbling to say the least.

The outdoor arena, where the "magic" happens

We left inspired by those we met at the Farm, renewed in our dedication to provide scholarships so every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential. If you would like to contribute to Jacob's Fund, checks can be mailed to the address at top right or use our handy PayPal button in the right side-bar. Thank you for your continued support of children in the United States.

Tony during his therapeutic riding

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

JACOB'S FUND :: McKenna Farms part 3

Our teenage volunteers, Hana, Jaden and Elyse, learned some basic horse care from Jessie and some of the other farm hands. The kids helped in the barn, feeding and watering the horses, cleaning out the stalls, as well as bringing the horses in from the fields in the evening. 

                            Elyse fastening a cover to keep the flies off the horse's face

Getting a little taste of barn life
Jessie showing Hana "the ropes"

Preparing to take the horses in

A bonding moment