Tuesday, December 24, 2013

HAITI :: Seeing Stars buys food!

Original Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) by Cris
Posting so many thanks today is making Christmas Eve feel more like Thanksgiving. 

In that spirit, thanks to Cris Letourneau for her creative idea to support the food drive! She recently published an e-book and is giving a portion of the sales to TRTP. 
"My goal is to raise $500 and we are almost there! To date, I have $396 to send to the kids. That includes book sales to people in 27 different states, 5 countries, and 3 continents!" ~ Cris
If you are interested in seeing (or ordering!) Cris's book, click here and help feed the kids!

HAITI :: Thank you, 3 Birds Boutique!

Ashley, 3 Birds proprietor, and family
A big thank you to 3 Birds Boutique for their recent donation! The boutique gives a portion of the business proceeds to our medical program in Haiti, bringing care to those who wouldn't otherwise receive it. Proprietor, Ashley, shares her personal story of family medical challenges and why she has chosen to support The Red Thread. 

Thank you, 3 Birds!

HAITI :: Non-traditional gift exchange


The great ideas just keep coming! 

A class of Texas students opted for a non-traditional gift exchange this Christmas. Instead of buying gifts for one another, each was challenged to donate $3 to the St. Vincent's food drive. The kids raised $127 which was matched by the Williamson family. That's 305 meals given by one group of students for another group

Bless those young hearts!

Monday, December 23, 2013

HAITI :: 9,063 thank you's!



We are so so thankful to share how wonderful our supporters are. Your generous spirits are glowing as we report that over the course of 8 days, together we have raised $7,552 to buy food for St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Haiti. 

That, friends, is absolutely amazing.

With these funds we can purchase food for over one month to feed the residential kids and staff at St. Vincent's. Because of your support, we are able to provide THREE meals a day for that time and then some!

Our goal is two full months of food and we are well on our way to achieving that goal. 



We'd like to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who has participated in the food drive thus far. Donors stretch across the United States to Canada and all the way to the Netherlands. The word is spreading and we thank you for your continued support.
  • Tina T.
  • Debra P.
  • John L.
  • Teresa C.
  • Robin L.
  • Eric M.
  • Alison S.
  • Stephen F.
  • Randa F.
  • Marc P.
  • Dina P.
  • Allyson P.
  • Cinda C.
  • Sherl O.
  • Alicia F.
  • Julie M.
  • Bruce J.
  • Michael S.
  • Lenni M.
  • Kathy A.
  • Patricia M.
  • Bradley H.
  • Jane M.
  • Jennifer T.
  • Kelley K.
  • Adela H.
  • Robert S.
  • Richard + Karen Y.
  • Morna S.
  • Ann R.
  • Barb R.
  • Robert S.
  • Jordan
  • Hana Y.
  • Doug Y.
  • Eric B.
  • Greg + Annie K.
  • Ellen G.
  • Ann B.
  • Lauri F.
The Red Thread is so blessed to have people like YOU following our progress on our blog, Facebook, Twitter and giving as you are able. If you'd like to help, please send your tax-deductible donation (memo line: food) via PayPal or check to:

The Red Thread Promise
249 N Belfield Ave
Havertown, PA 19083
Attn: Kathy Korge Albergate

Thursday, December 19, 2013

HAITI :: Wonky math


Yes, friends, our 800 number from yesterday was wrong. But wrong in a GOOD way. We've actually sent enough $$$ to date to purchase 2,400 meals for the kids at St. Vincent's! 

Sometimes, it's good to be wrong!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

HAITI :: 800 meals and counting!

and counting!!!
Your response to the food crisis at St. Vincent's has been amazing! We are thrilled to share that in only a few days, we have already raised and sent $2,000 to St. Vincent's. That translates into 800 meals, friends.

What's more? Tina, a supporter from Texas, travelled with us to St. Vincent's this past summer and was able to spend a week with the kids these funds will feed. She has offered to match donations up to $2,375 (total). These kids are near and dear to her heart and we are thankful for her generous offer.

Tina and Elisme, a residential student at St. Vincent's
Let's take Tina up on her offer. Let's max out her matching donations and keep going! If we combine the funds already raised + another $2,375 + the matching funds, we will feed ALL residential students and staff for one month, thus meeting The Red Thread's short-term goal. 

Our long-term goal is to feed the kids for two months. The math is simple: $.83 per meal...less than what most Americans spend on a cup of coffee. 

We are thankful for private donors as well as our partners at West Tennessee Haiti Partnership and Friends of St. Vincent's who are working toward the same goal - feeding those precious kids! It is wonderful to see everyone coming. 

The Red Thread is so blessed to have people like YOU following our progress on our blog, FacebookTwitter and giving as you are able. If you'd like to help, please send your tax-deductible donation (memo line: food) via PayPal or check to:

The Red Thread Promise
249 N Belfield Ave
Havertown, PA 19083
Attn: Kathy Korge Albergate

Sunday, December 15, 2013

HAITI :: Food crisis at St. Vincent's escalates

Have you ever tried to write something but the message is so upsetting that you can't get the words out adequately? That's the way we feel now as we share the severity of the food shortage at St Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children, our partner in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


Ever since a large international agency stopped supplying food to the Center without explanation, St. Vincent's administration has been working diligently to find a sustainable solution. Expenses have been drastically reduced and all available funds used toward food. 

This critical shortage has even forced them to restructure who they feed and when. (Author’s note: I can NOT even fathom having to make these kind of decisions.) The current situation only provides food for 76 residential students and 10 residential staff on a rotating schedule. Loosely translated, that means they don’t get 3 simple meals of beans and rice every day – some days they do, but many times they do not.

Tragically, the Center's electricity was recently cutoff as they are unable to pay the growing debt. Instead, they have diverted those funds to buy beans and rice to feed the students.

In a recent correspondence, Father Sadoni, Director of St. Vincent's, stated:
Occasionally an agency gives us some rice and beans, but it is not enough to operate the Center. We have re-approached other agencies but without success. We are now truly breathless. All St. Vincent's input is spending in the food program. At the time I wrote this report to you, there is no electricity at St. Vincent's. We don't have enough money to pay the current debt. This is the first time since my ascent to the management of the Center that I find myself in such a situation. Despite these problems, I keep hoping that one day St. Vincent's will meet its needs and that there will be no debt to pay. And we could easily feed our children.
Our hearts are broken to hear this. Our compassion brings us to action. So we are going to DO SOMETHING. 

We are asking 2 things of each and every Red Thread supporter:

  1. SHARE this message. Tell others of the need. Show them the pictures of St. Vincent’s kids from our blog / website / Facebook / Instagram. If each of us shared this message with 10 friends / co-workers, what a difference we could make!!!
  2. GIVE something. Donations of any size help! It costs approximately $6000 to feed all residential staff and students for 1 full month, 3 meals per day. That breaks down as such: $2.50 feeds 1 person 3 meals per day. (Author’s note: you can’t even go to McDonald’s for ONE meal for $2.50!) 

NO ONE should go without sufficient food – ever. Let’s do our part to feed the kids and start 2014 on a positive note for our brothers and sisters at St. Vincent’s.

Donations can be made via PayPal through our website or via check. Checks may be sent to:
The Red Thread Promise
249 N Belfield Ave
Havertown, PA 19083
Attn: Kathy Korge Albergate

Thank you!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

UGANDA :: Saving lives

What a joy to receive word from Missy in Kampala. Through these stories below, you can see your gifts at work with abused women in Uganda.



Mary. As the oldest daughter in her family, Mary had been serving as the primary caregiver of her gravely ill mother. During that tragic time, she and two other family members were raped and beaten during an invasion in their community. 

For a year, Mary was unable to receive the medical care that she desperately needed to help recover from her trauma. Her family lives on less than a dollar a day and cannot even provide enough food to feed all of the children in their home. Mary's only option was to seek treatment at a local government hospital where she experienced discrimination and still could not access adequate care. 

When she came to us for help, our primary goal was immediate medical care. Unfortunately, we had to wait over a month until her mother was better and her responsibilities as caretaker decreased. Only then was Mary able to see a doctor. 

One of our many concerns was the severe stomach pains she had been experiencing for the last several weeks. Thankfully, we were finally able to take Mary to the doctor last week for both a gynecological exam and general physical. During a follow up visit, the doctor discovered that Mary was suffering from an advanced ameba. This common parasite is very prevalent in Uganda but can be treated with an antibiotic. However, if left untreated, the parasite can enter the blood stream and cause death. 

Mary is now undergoing treatment to remove the parasite from her body. Her prognosis is good and we expect a full recovery thanks to your generous support of her care. 
"This exam literally saved her life
Her family would not have been able to afford this exam or
treatment without the help of The Red Thread." ~ Missy

Jackie and Missy
Jackie. For the first time in many years, Jackie was also able to see a doctor, thanks to support from The Red Thread. This medical care has been pivotal in her healing and rehabilitation from the many traumas she has suffered. Following her care, she is doing much better, is happy and empowered. She has even enrolled in English, computer and sewing classes! 
"We are grateful to The Red Thread Promise for your 
partnership in assisting these girls within our community. 
This access to medical care is pivotal to the work that we 
are doing to assist in the healing, rehabilitation and 
empowerment of these young girls." ~ Missy

Please prayerfully consider supporting our work with Missy in Uganda. Together, we can promote healing and HOPE to battered girls across the globe. Donations can be made via our the PayPal button in the sidebar or check (sent to the address at top right). Thank you!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

JACOB'S FUND :: Sharon's kids

We know that your mailbox is full of solicitations from charities. Ours are too. We wouldn’t ask if there weren’t a real need—but indeed there is—and we’ve just learned of it. The good news is that this one is easy and inexpensive. 

Our need is simple:

*$5 or $10 gift cards to McDonald’s or Wendy’s
*$5 or $10 gift cards to Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree and Dollar General
*Small, clean, gently used toys



Here’s why we’re asking:
Our friend Sharon, a former missionary to Africa, provides therapy to children with mental disabilities in the heart of Appalachia. The kids she works with have failed to respond to traditional therapies but are having great success through Sharon’s creative therapy and incentive program.

While some of the incentives cost nothing (i.e. getting to stay up 15 minutes past bedtime, having a friend over to play), some do. Sharon explains:

I have a Rewards Bag and everything in it is assigned a certain number of points. The kids can choose rewards commensurate with the points they’ve earned through good behavior. I usually shop at Dollar Tree or Dollar General for the items, spending $1 to $3 each. Older kids love to go to McDonald’s for a meal. Sometimes I take them out for a Coke, just so we’ll have a place to do therapy, since the home is often small and chaotic (or has bed bugs or lice, and I can’t enter it). 
The great news is that the incentive program is working beautifully! Sharon has seen much success and wants to continue the program. The bad news is that there is no budget for these items, an expense in excess of $200 per month that Sharon has been footing alone. 

This is our opportunity to help. Jacob’s Fund takes seriously our promise to help needy and disabled children. We know that you do, too. If you can help, please send your contribution of gift cards or pre-owned toys to:


Glenna Fisher
Jacob’s Fund Director
1630 Tipperary Drive
Middletown, Ohio 45042-3875

Monetary donations can be sent to:
The Red Thread Promise
249 N. Belfield Avenue
Havertown, PA 19083

Thank you for your continued support! 

HAITI :: Methodist on a mission


I met Eric on Saturday morning.
It was our last day of the trip [Haiti, November 2013]. I know now, after talking to him for more than 30 min, why he introduced himself to myself, a stranger sitting in the shade, sifting through countless photos on the computer. 

It’s because Eric knows everyone and he didn’t know me (yet!). He is one of those people that may be in the background, but knows every nuance of the property, every employee, and every guest that has been here over the past 48 years. This 55-year-old man, sporting a handsome smile and creased face, has been working here all his life. 

After a short minute, he quickly got to the point of our conversation: Eric wanted to know if this was my first time in Haiti and what I was doing in his country. I shared that it was my 9th visit over the past 3 years and I was excited to be a part of my church’s first mission trip to Haiti. We worked at a Methodist school in the mountains, Ecole Methodiste d’Duplan, and a school / orphanage for special needs children in Port-au-Prince, St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. 

At this news, his eyes twinkled and he began sharing his own deep thoughts about people with handicaps and how God uses them to work in our lives. I regret not having a video camera pointed at this man’s friendly face to fully and accurately relay his thoughts, but alas, I will need to paraphrase from memory. 

Eric told me that everyone is the same. We are all born into this world as God’s creatures. Some are normal (his word) and some are not. Some can hear; some are deaf. Some can walk, while others have an accident that takes away their ability to move. As normal (his word) people, at any time, we could lose our hearing or our sight or our ability to walk from many circumstances. In essence, we are all the same. God doesn’t see our differences – God loves everyone and uses our differences to give opportunities for service. 

As he looked over my shoulder at the photos of St. Vincent’s kids, he told me that God calls each of us to do something different. I nodded fervently and began to walk him through the pictures, telling him about each child: Oxilus, Judith, Marie Line, Mackenson... 


Sonya and Oxilus
When we finished looking at the photos, he pointed to my chest, looked me squarely in the eye, and said that God wrote it on my heart to work with handicapped children. He said he could see the love in my eyes for those kids. It was the children that kept me coming back to Haiti. At these words, I teared up and replied “these children are my family. That’s why I come back again and again. There are so many opportunities to help, to love and to be loved.” Now it was his turn to nod and smile back at me. 

He pointed to himself and said God didn’t call him to work with handicapped children. God called him to fix things. His love is keeping up the property and buildings that make up the guesthouse; keeping the guesthouse cars running reliably (a never-ending task in this country); driving mission teams to and from their worksites; fixing the showers and the toilets; maintaining the swimming pool. 

THAT is his calling. It is what God wrote on his heart. And he has followed that calling for 48 years. Through his service at the guesthouse, people like me can come and serve in our different ways. We can follow our individual callings, wherever they may lead. 

It is through our varied strengths that we are able to make a difference in this world and be made whole by serving others. I guess that’s what’s makes me a Methodist: belonging to a church that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active engagement with our world. Putting faith and love into action. Sounds quite like The Red Thread Promise to me.

(Editorial by Sonya Yencer, TRTP Vice President)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

HAITI :: One-of-a-kind gifts

On the heels of yesterday's post, we'd like to offer the opportunity for others to enjoy Locson's art and our annual blown glass ornaments. All items below are for sale and are as unique as the person who made them. Each painting is an original signed by the artist (includes artist photo). Ornaments are hand-blown; color and design vary; quantities are limited.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit both the artist and The Red Thread's programs. What a fun and meaningful way to purchase something beautiful and know that you are making a global difference.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these items, please contact Sonya via email or call 614.316.9491. We will do our best to ship in time for Christmas delivery.


----------------------------------
2013 "HOPE" ORNAMENT
Despina Kalgaros, Lancaster, PA, USA
Hand-blown glass
$32 + shipping
Molds or other reproduction aids are never used
so each is a unique piece of glass art

Each ornament has the Chinese character for HOPE


----------------------------------
THE MARKET
Locson Petit-Homme, Duplan, Haiti
Acrylic on canvas, 13w x 36t"
$250 + shipping

The Market
The Market, detail

----------------------------------
HAITIAN SUN
Locson Petit-Homme, Duplan, Haiti
Acrylic on canvas, 13w x 36t"
$250 + shipping


Haitian Sun 
Haitian Sun, detail


----------------------------------
HUMAN SPIRIT
Locson Petit-Homme, Duplan, Haiti
Acrylic on canvas, 13w x 36t"
$250 + shipping


Human Spirit 
Human Spirit, detail 1 
Human Spirit, detail 2

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

HAITI :: The visible red thread

Sonya and one of many aspiring art students
Art connects people. Without so much as a single word, colors on a canvas or lines on a page can bring strangers together. In some instances, art creates a unique foundation on which to build relationships. 

Art, like love and hope, is a language all its own. It knows no boundaries. It is something to be shared. Regardless of who you are, or where you come from. Irrespective of size, shape, color, race, gender, religion, economic status or language. What a gift—a gift that Sonya was more than happy to share with many during our last trip to Haiti. 

The art of Zentangle, a form of meditative drawing, was the conduit for connecting with people throughout the week: from children in a remote mountain schoolyard, to highly competitive street vendors peddling their wares in the city, to students at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. 


Some of the beautiful Zentangle tiles created during the trip
(Sonya's on the left; Locson's first attempt on the right)

The Duplan schoolyard

It began with a single teenager whose curiosity got the best of him during recess on the team’s first day in Duplan, a rural mountainside village. Sonya spread out her art, sat down on a concrete bench and began to draw. She looked up to find him intently watching her every pen stroke. Of course, she invited him to give it a try and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Throughout the week, Sonya’s impromptu class grew from one to 12—using every pen, each pencil and all the paper she brought—with more than 20 observers at any given time; each anxiously awaiting their turn. These normally aloof teens showed an amazing curiosity for Zentangle, their interest increasing daily. It was wonderful watching the kids progress from tentative drawing and dissatisfaction with their work to complete confidence and asking for more paper! 
The first art student
His intense concentration was impressive

Locson

As Sonya worked with the kids on that first day, a sprightly 20-something arrived at the school in hopes of selling his artwork to our team. What a blessing this young man turned out to be! Not only was he a fantastic painter (per Sonya: “possibly the most talented artist I’ve met in Haiti”) but, more importantly, a kind and caring person.


Locson and Sonya during a Zentangle lesson
Although the two just met, a strong bond quickly formed between the two. In turn, the pair reviewed one another’s art, discussed techniques, materials, cost and value. Over time, they set aside the small talk and delved deeper, talking about inspiration, their individual art instruction and Locson’s aspirations to open his own studio in Haiti to nurture the artist in every child.

While the students were in class, Sonya taught Locson Zentangle. He was a natural! When they were done creating art together, they spent time in the Haitian tradition, haggling over the price of some stunning paintings.


Sealing the deal sale (lucky Sonya!)
During breaks when the kids came back for more drawing lessons, Locson voluntarily translated Sonya’s instructions for the growing student body. He encouraged kids who were ready to abandon their drawings to continue; he made suggestions for others to improve their work; he encouraged them to practice drawing.


Learning to Zentangle
He was SO proud of the final product!

Unforgetable gifts

On our final day in Duplan, Locson returned and spent the morning with Sonya and the students. Before the team’s departure, he entrusted her with three gorgeous paintings. He asked for no money or agreement. His only request was for her to see if anyone would be interested in them in the States. 

He gave these three gifts with no guarantee that Sonya would return. 
No guarantee of payment. 
No guarantee of returned artwork. 
Only trust that she would be a woman of her word.  

Locson's generous spirit will never be forgotten. His gifts to our team were more than three beautiful paintings—but also gifts of time, talent, and his love of the Haitian people. 

We look forward to our return to Duplan and reconnecting with Locson.

Some of the local children, like Basmani (above)
and her brother below, don't attend school in Duplan,
but were regular visitors during our week at the school
Pure concentration
Duplan students showing off their masterpieces

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CHINA :: A home for DXX!

A new family is born
Great news brings huge smiles to our faces. Today held news like this. 

Remember little DXX from China? She was officially adopted on Monday! Here she is with her forever family (she is in pink). Aren't they beautiful? 

This is EXACTLY why we fund medical care for orphans in China - so they can enjoy improved health for the rest of their lives AND have a better chance of adoption. 

We wish DXX and her family a lifetime of happiness. Thank you all for your support of this precious child.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

HAITI :: Hippotherapy in Port-au-Prince

One of the beauties at Pascado
Imagine the impact we could make 
on more children's lives if Jacob's Fund transformed from a domestic program 
into an international one.


The possibilities give The Red Thread team goosebumps!

Nestled behind one of the thousands of concrete walls in Port-au-Prince, you'll have to look carefully to find Pascado Athletic Club Centre Equestre (Pascado), a large equestrian farm in Cité Militaire. Sonya had the opportunity to visit Pascado during our trip this November and was excited to note the similarities between the Center and our partner farms in the states. 

Pascado showcased some typical Haitian qualities—such as stables made of concrete and gravel "paving"—but the main elements of all three farms were the same: lots of horses, stables and tack, riding arenas and TREES! Yes, those green leafy things so foreign to Port-au-Prince are beautiful green trees, adding to the serenity of the property, a true oasis in the heart of the bustling city.

The main viewing area
Small arena where most therapy begins
Julia, a rider at Pascado and our too-kind tour guide, led us around the property, showing us the different areas, arenas and stables. She also introduced us to one of the two therapists at the farm, Milo, who has been treating people since 1998. Like in the USA, trained therapists work with doctors to better understand the patient's condition and map out a strategic hippotherapy plan to maximize its effectiveness. With the help of eight therapy horses, therapists treats children and adults with various physical and neurological conditions, including deafness, hearing impairment, mutism and autism to name a few. 

Sound familiar?!

We look forward to continued conversations with Pascado to see if hippotherapy might be a good option for children at St. Vincent's and other places. 

The large arena
Hay and feed barn

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

JACOB'S FUND :: Why?

Kyle and sister Kaylie
As a charitable organization, The Red Thread Promise works hard to let others know exactly what we do: helping needy children with disabilities in the United States through Jacob’s Fund. We do our best to explain hippotherapy – a new term to many – and how therapy delivered on a horse opens new worlds for children, far beyond the limits of therapy in a clinical setting. We often speak of the bond between the child and the horse.

Today we’d like to focus on our deepest reason for why we do what we do: small victories.  We rejoice in the milestones of physical development that each child reaches; we’re brought to tears when a child speaks for the first time; and we whoop with joy when a wheelchair-bound kid takes steps on his own.

Kyle, a Jacob’s Fund ridership recipient, loves his horse and his hippotherapy sessions. His excitement is palpable when he steps out of the car at Hilltop Equestrian Center and heads straight for the barn. His vocalization has improved, and he’s able to stay on task longer during hippotherapy sessions. These are some of the physical, observable changes. Kyle’s accomplishments come close to the heart of why we do what we do at Jacob’s Fund.  

But outward signs don’t tell the whole story.  

The real story is told inside families, in the everyday events with moms and dads and brothers and sisters whose lives are entwined with these special children, children like Kyle.  

Buddies
We think these photos says more than any words we could write. They give a tiny glimpse into Kyle’s world with his family and underline why we all work together to bring hope and healing to kids like him.  

Kyle's family
Kyle’s parents shared this photo and message with us:
Occasionally Kaylie asks to sleep with her bubby as she did tonight, and this is how I found them sleeping. So precious! She is at times saddened, of course, with Kyle's disabilities, but I'm so proud of her. She's wise beyond her years and cares for him almost like a mother.
Here, in the heart of a family, we are reminded of a scrap of scripture: that they may have life, and they may have it more abundantly.

Helping children have a more abundant life – yes, that’s what Jacob’s Fund is all about.