Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HAITI :: FOOD UPDATE :: A big hearted teenager

Jaden celebrating his birthday with French silk pie
Teenagers are amazing… 
Words we don't hear strung together often enough! This may be contrary to many opinions, but The Red Thread team stands by it. Here's why.

Jaden is one of those kids whose birthday lands right after the Christmas and New Years hustle and bustle. Family and friends are partied out, the festivities have come to an end, and people are trying to get back into the swing of work and school. Post-holiday blues prevail and the idea of pulling together a celebration seems more like work than fun.

It was no surprise that only three people gathered around Jaden at the table to sing Happy Birthday and enjoy French silk pie on his 13th birthday. But what happened after the subdued celebration surprised everyone.

As the family was preparing to send a donation to The Red Thread for the food drive, Jaden placed his combined birthday and Christmas gift—a $100 bill—in the donation cup. His mom and dad asked him if he was sure this is what he wanted to do. 

His response was simple: "I'm not poor. I don't need this." 

With Jaden's donation, we have received $10,659.93 toward St. Vincent's food allowing us to provide 12,792 meals! 

What an example this young man has set for us all.

Birthday money provides 120 meals

Saturday, January 18, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: Rotary hears our story

Glenna Fisher, Director of Jacob's Fund
We love telling our story. So when Rotary of Middletown, Ohio, invited Glenna Fisher, Director of Jacob’s Fund, to speak during this week's meeting, she was delighted. “Knowing Rotary’s dedication to service and international understanding, I knew that they would not only listen to our story, but would hear it with both hearts and minds,” Glenna said.

“The Red Thread Promise’s story—from Zhou-Zhou in China, the first child whose surgery we sponsored, to Kyle, whose hippotherapy we support at Hilltop, just minutes away from where we were meeting—is a story of loving children and helping them live their lives to their fullest potential.”

The Red Thread Promise hopes to partner with Middletown Rotary to help children in the Cincinnati area through Jacob's Fund. As one of the Rotarians said following Glenna’s presentation, “There are so many children in our area who would benefit from hippotherapy.”

We whole-heartedly agree. Together with our supporters from Rotary and across Ohio, we hope to make a lasting difference in their young lives.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

HAITI :: Seeing Stars buys 600 meals!

3-Dimensional stars by Cris Letourneau, CZT
Time and time again we share stories of our team's interactions with disabled children in China, Haiti and the USA. We post photos of mission trips showcasing volunteers working on behalf of these extraordinary kids. We continually tell how your donations make a difference in the lives of children. And we love, love, love sharing the creative ways that people support The Red Thread Promise and inspire others to do the same.

Here is a follow up on our post from Christmas Eve, 2013 where one of our long-time supporters had a great idea and ran with it. 

Cris, a Certified Zentangle Teacher in central Ohio, heard about the food crisis at St. Vincent's. She saw a need and wanted to make a difference. In December 2013, she published Seeing Stars, an ebook of instructions and templates for creating 3-dimensional star ornaments. Inside the book she wrote about St. Vincent's and promised to help feed the children with every book sale. The rest, as they say, is history! 

The Red Thread team recently did a mini-interview with Cris. We asked why she felt compelled to help and how she arrived at the idea of writing a book. 

* * * * *

When I thought about the kids at St. Vincent's sitting in the dark, hungry at Christmas time, it just about broke my heart. Hearing the news on my dad's birthday was even more upsetting. My father was a physician whose motto was, "All God's children get sick. And when they are sick, I will help them get well, whether they can pay or not."  

At first, I thought, "What can I do to help?" I am not a physician; I am an artist. Normally, I am a "write a check and be done" person. But since my husband is between jobs right now, we aren't able to donate as much as I would have liked.

I took a quick skills inventory:
  • I have writing experience, having written Made in the Shade last year
  • I get a lot of compliments about my art
  • I had just taught a very popular class on making 3-Dimensional star ornaments
So, I decided to combine the three and write an instructional book on how to make star ornaments. I did all of the art on the stars so you don't have to know how to do Zentangle to enjoy the book. When the book went up for sale, I asked all of my fellow Zentangle teachers to let their students know about it and they did!

I donated 100% of the profits from the book to TRTP up until Christmas. After that, I'm sharing with them so that each book sold will feed a child for a day. That will go on for as long as people continue to buy the book. My goal was to earn $500 for the kids and I just sent that check to them today!
* * * * *

Sending a hearty THANK YOU to Cris and all who ordered her book. 
Together, you have provided 600 meals for St. Vincent's kids!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: A Day with Cecilia

This little angel is too cute for words. Here is Cecilia during her speech therapy session at McKenna Farms.

JACOB'S FUND :: Contagious Joy

Speech therapy with Cecilia
Recently, TRTP grant writer, Jessica, visited our partners at McKenna Farms and met Cecilia. Now we'd like to introduce you to her.


Cecilia is a beautiful little girl, so full of life and cheer! Cecilia agreed to let us spend some time with her during her speech therapy session during my visit to McKenna Farms, a gift I will never forget.

After listening to her joyfully point out things like an oven, ladder, and refrigerator and what each does, I made my way to the lobby to introduce myself to her parents and gush over what I had just witnessed. I was deeply moved that her parents would find a comfort level with me and were willing to share her story.

When Cecilia's mother was 25 weeks pregnant, the doctor found water on the baby's brain and suggested that she consider abortion. Her parents decided to continue to full term and meet their baby girl. Days following her birth, surgeons operated on her tiny brain for the first time, with four additional surgeries to follow. 

The family recently moved to Georgia and has been bringing Cecilia to McKenna Farms for over two months. They are thrilled with the progress she has made and are happy to report she will be starting hippotherapy very soon. The two relish their daughter's positive attitude: never a complaint, always cheerful. What a role model this darling girl is!

I suspect all who meet Cecilia feel the warmth of her contagious joy reach into the deepest parts of their hearts. That day I thanked God for touching little Cecilia's life and for allowing her joy to trickle down into my heart. That precious, untainted heart rescued me from the cares and burdens of the world, lifting me above the clouds to the warmth of the sun.

My time spent with her gave me a clearer vision of what our small lives are really about.

~ Jessica, TRTP Grant Writer

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: A grant writer and a big ole hippotherapy farm

Jessica and one of McKenna Farms' therapy horses
Recently, TRTP grant writer, Jessica, visited our partners at McKenna Farms (Dallas, GA). What began as a research trip—to give her a taste of the true Jacob's Fund experience—morphed into something more meaningful than she could have hoped!


It was a beautiful Friday morning. Skies cleared as the brilliance of the sunlight pierced the gloomy puffs that enveloped the city only hours earlier. Just as the rush of traffic quieted itself, I made my journey to the outskirts of town. Passing shops and eateries, small businesses and neighborhoods, my little car finally rolled to a stop in front of the small pastures where unsuspecting horses grazed nearby.

There, nestled in the midst of ordinary life, my adventure began.  

Jessica and tour guide, Belen
I found my way to the front desk where I met my smiling tour guide for the day, Belen. We began walking the grounds and found ourselves at McKenna Farm's indoor arena, the newest addition to the property. What an amazing space! Belen's gratitude for such a welcome provision spilled over into her description of its great importance. In years past as all hippotherapy and therapeutic riding was done in the outdoor arena, any inclement weather postponed the children's therapy frequently in winter and spring months. With the addition of this large covered space, the children were able to continue their therapy without any interruptions, protected from the elements, a priceless gift!

At the head of the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail
We continued down the path to the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail, named after our own Jacob Noah Beachy. As we walked along the trail, observing each sensory station, I imagined what it would be like to be one of these children—to see the world through the eyes of someone born with a disability.
  • How much would it mean to laugh if I often felt discomfort or pain? 
  • How much would it mean to smell the sweetness of the herbs and hear the melodic chirps from the birds when I was usually indoors? 
  • How much would it mean to see the various colors and shapes and feel different textures? 
Not only to experience all of these things, but to experience them pleasantly... not as loud, intrusive noises and odors pressing in to overwhelm, but as gifts meant to be enjoyed. I closed my eyes and envisioned all of the delightful moments that must take place on this very trail in the midst of healing therapy.

Beyond all of the trees surrounding the trail, beyond disability and limitation, there lies refuge and peace for children in need. A place all their own. Amazed by what such simple materials could accomplish, I wandered up to the therapy rooms where I met Cecilia. You can meet her too in our next post.

~ Jessica, TRTP Grant Writer

View from the trail

Sunday, January 5, 2014

HAITI :: 11,000+ meals and counting

Each day we open TRTP's mail, we discover more and more generous hearts that have opened up to help us feed the kids at St. Vincent's in Haiti. We have almost made our goal to provide meals for 2 months. Only $2,625 to go!!! Please keep spreading the word and thank you so much for everything you are doing for these awesome kids.

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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: Simple gifts stories from Sharon

Prior to Christmas, some of the children chose Reward Bag items to use as gifts for family members—especially caregivers—instead of choosing items for themselves. That touched my heart, so I added items to the bag that would be appropriate for caregivers.


A girl with borderline intellectual functioning and a history of abuse often has anger meltdowns when things don't go her way. She has difficulty regulating her emotions, and in the past has run away from school or home when emotionally overwhelmed. She has also reacted in risky ways to herself and others. In working with her, we have developed an emotional coping strategy, in which (she) takes a time out when becoming upset, and then use a variety of coping tools to calm down. We have also worked on her understanding that things will not always go her way. The girl has difficulty getting along with her siblings, and her caretakers were worried about her behavior over Christmas break, when all the siblings would be home together for two weeks. The caretaker, girl, and I set behavior goals for the week of Christmas. These goals were aimed at the girl using her emotional coping strategy and making efforts to get along with her siblings. I met with the girl and her caregiver yesterday. (She) was so proud of her Behavior Chart, because she had not had any anger meltdowns and her behavior with her siblings was improved over the past. She was very happy to have earned enough points to both go out to eat and to choose from the Rewards Bag.  


A boy recently benefited from The Red Threat Promise donation. He has Asperger's Syndrome and has spent a lot of time in mental health institutions due to his behaviors of anger meltdowns, aggression, running away, and threats to harm himself. Over the past few months, (he) has responded very well to a reward system for changing his behaviors. Both his caretaker and his Special Education teacher have reported improved behavior. I had never taken this boy away from school or home in my car, due to his risky, impulsive history. I told him, however, that I believed he had shown behavior change that would warrant a community outing, but he first had to practice good emotional coping skills over the Christmas week break. I recently met with (him) and his caretaker. His caretaker reported that the boy's behavior has been very good. So we had our first outing! He was so thrilled. We went to Sonic Drive-in for his foot long hotdog with chili and to the bowling alley where he beat me! The boy said he just wants to be "like a normal kid my age," and yesterday, I think he felt like one! 


Some gift cards. Simple gifts. 
Sometimes the simplest things can change a life. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: Simple gifts

Every human being wants to be loved. We all desire feeling accepted and valued by our families and those closest to us. 

Now imagine that your behaviors are so off-putting that even those you cherish most find it difficult to show you love. Take it one step further by imaging that you’re a child: your mind and body are still changing and developing; your capacity for understanding your own behaviors and how they affect those around you are limited. 

This is a typical story for one of Sharon’s Kids. Simply stated, their lives are very difficult. Many have been abused. Often they are in danger of harming themselves or others. Other forms of therapy have been unsuccessful. Then they meet Sharon, an intensive treatment behavioral health therapist, and they finally catch a glimpse of hope.

As a Red Thread Promise supporter, you may already know the story of the silken red thread of destiny. It is that invisible thread that connects those who are destined to be part of our lives, a thread that my tangle or stretch but never break. Sharon doesn’t simply hold onto the red thread of destiny; it’s tightly wrapped around her heart. In her work, she doesn’t just show these children that they are worthy of love; she helps them envision and achieve a more successful version of themselves. She brings HOPE, something many of these kids have never seen. 

As 2013 drew to a close, Sharon asked for The Red Thread’s partnership to help these hurting children and we accepted. Therapy for her young patients involves a rewards system—a proven motivator for these kids—that she has been paying for out-of-pocket, including simple rewards like: 
  • having a friend over to play
  • visits to the local shelter to play with the animals
  • trips to parks and public library events
  • small toys or stuffed animals
  • drinks or meals at McDonald’s or Wendy’s
  • trips to a bounce facility to play on blow up slides
  • pottery painting
  • bowling
Often, these outings provide a place for therapy, as the kids’ homes are often chaotic and crowded or have infestations making therapy in their own environment impossible.

With your help, The Red Thread Promise was able to supply gift cards so that Sharon could continue to reinforce good behaviors for children and teens that desperately need to see positive outcomes for positive behavior. Her young patients began benefitting from those gift cards right away! 

In the following posts, we will share some of Sharon’s stories with you. These are your simple gifts in action. Thank you.