Invest Hope’s Hurricane Matthew Update

I have had a number of folks ask how Hurricane Matthew has affected both Invest Hope and those living in Peredo. Our director, Ginny, recently posted this on her blog:

“David and I have talked with people in Peredo and they say it is flooded and gardens are destroyed. Thankfully, as far as everyone knows, everyone is OK.

We have had a few people ask about sending Invest Hope relief money. We are not taking relief funds specifically for the hurricane at this time. If you do want to help, we recommend donating to Samaritan’s Purse who in on ground in Haiti and already has significant relief work experience in Haiti in the name of Jesus. [Link listed below.]

Please continue to pray for the people in Peredo in the coming weeks/months as gardens were destroyed and roads washed away by water.”

If you want to contribute to Hurricane Matthew relief in Haiti via Samaritan’s Purse, please click here.

If you would like to contribute to Invest Hope’s current programs and future projects via our general fund, please click here and then click the big DONATE NOW button on the righthand side of our page.

Thank you!

Finally!

In May 2011, my friends ask me to join them in creating a nonprofit organization. Over the past three years; we developed a business plan, came up with a name, designed a logo, built a website, promoted the mission, founded our Board of Directors, and more. We are a young group, eager to help break the cycle of poverty in Haiti.

So you can probably understand that frustration we encountered after applying for our 501c3 tax exempt status. It took Ginny and myself a month (literally) to draw up bylaws and fill out all of the application forms to submit to the IRS. We mailed our packet to the US government in October 2012, and anxiously awaited our fate.

and waited.

and waited..

and waited…

The IRS website showed little movement in approvals because of sequesters, changes in procedures, and an over-abundance of applications. As a matter of fact, in October 2013, the government’s website showed April 2012 as the date they were currently reviewing. One year later, and we were still six months away from being reviewed. We anticipated our results, but knew that we had to be patient.

To our surprise, we received a package in the mail late last month. It was our 501c3 paperwork. We were approved! As of January 30, 2014, Invest Hope is a tax-exempt nonprofit. We were not expecting results for at least Fall of this year. I almost cried… because I’m a sap like that. Haha.

To learn more about our mission, I invite you to head over to our website, www.investhope.com
We strive to offer Haitians a hand up, not a hand out, which empowers them to promote change among themselves.

I plan to use this Haiti page on my personal website to showcase things like programs, fundraisers, and photos that I have taken in Haiti.

School Match Savings Program

Aryson - School Match Savings

Want to know how to help Aryson become a mechanic? Consider making a donation to Invest Hope’s School Match Savings Program. When his parents deposit $50US into our program, we will match that amount! $100US will pay for Aryson to attend school for one year. The more education Aryson can receive as a child, the better chance he will have of accomplishing his dream.

Please click the link above to learn more about how you can invest hope in Aryson’s future, and the future of the other 35 children in our program!

Donations for Haiti

Here is a list of the items that I am collecting for my March 5 mission trip to Haiti. If you are able to help with any of the following, please email me. Thank you, in advance, for supporting Invest Hope!

Packs of  tuna and chicken
Deodorant
Body lotion
Bath soap
Clothes pins
Toothbrushes, toothpaste
School notebooks
Art sketch book with coloring pencils (for girls)

Things we are needing to put together Easter bags for our kids program :
Boys and girls underwear size 2-14
Women’s underwear size 5 small
Girls hair accessories
White girls dress socks all sizes
Dark boy dress socks all sizes
Small toys like match box cars, small action figurines, stickers, small balls, etc.
Candy

Flying High

Well, I did it. I finally booked round-trip airline tickets to Haiti. I’m still in shock.

In May 2011, I was asked to join the board of a new, unnamed mission created by someone I had only chatted with a few times on Facebook. The organization alone seemed like a dream come true, but the invitation and the things that took place shortly after truly were answered prayers.

I had always enjoyed volunteering, but grew restless with large, well-known, overpowering nonprofits. I longed to find a nonprofit that was faith-based and just starting out. I guess I have a thing for the underdogs. Shortly after I accepted the invitation, the mission was named Invest Hope. We designed a logo, set up a website, and started filing appropriate paperwork for our nonprofit status. The one stipulation that Ginny, our founder, had was for everyone on the board to visit Haiti. Having been a missionary nurse for several years, living there full time, she was very passionate about having a board of directors who would know, first hand, the good and the bad of living in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

I knew between work, home, and finances… traveling to Haiti for me would only happen if and when the Lord allowed. Other board members visited, but no matter how often I thought about it – or even pursued it – it never worked out for me. Ginny was patient and understanding, and also trusted that I would make it in God’s timing.

There were things I did to prepare while I waited. I made the tough decision to re-home my sweet black lab, because I knew I had no one to care for him should I go to Haiti for a week. Finding him a new mom also meant I could put money that I spent on him towards paying off bills and/or saving money. I applied for a passport. I prayed. I started exercising. I even began eating foods that were a little more similar to Caribbean island cuisine; rice, black beans, avocado, coconut milk – which are, coincidentally, some of my favorites – because I thought maybe it would prevent complete belly shock.

And then it happened. Ginny’s brother has an upcoming destination wedding planned in Florida. When Ginny purchased a ticket, she sent her itinerary to me to see if I could possibly get a flight to Haiti around the same time that she returned. Not only was a flight available…. but there was a flight out of a nearby airport connecting with her exact flight. And the seat beside of her on the plane to Haiti was still available. The best part? The ticket price was the lowest I had ever seen it. About $250 cheaper! I was flying-high ecstatic!I am so grateful that God’s plan for me, for Invest Hope, and for Haiti is allowing this to happen… at just the right time. 🙂

Let Us Do Good to All People

I love to give. I will donate my time, my services, and/or my money to just about any legit charity. It apparently is no secret.

This morning, I awoke to a text message asking me if I’d like to purchase a tub of cookie dough for a preschool fundraiser. This is the 5th tub of cookie dough that I’ve been asked to purchase in the past week. Apparently, people freely spend $15 on 3lb of frozen lard & sugar. Although I have graciously declined everyone’s offer to purchase something so incredibly unhealthy, I don’t mind sending a check over to the schools to show that people actually DO give without expecting anything in return…

…or do they? Am I the only person who does this? My mind became cluttered with so many thoughts, and I suddenly questioned how (and why) these fundraising efforts work.

I have been fundraising for various charities for 15 years now. I have raised thousands of dollars for well-known nonprofits. The most successful fundraisers have been those where people purchased something, knowing that a portion of their proceeds go to charity. No one stops to ask how much; they seem fine with just knowing “some” of it does. The more I pondered over that, the more I became frustrated. Why do so many schools hold these fundraisers? Why cookie dough? Shouldn’t we be promoting a healthier society? Are these fundraisers really necessary? What is purchased with these donations? Why won’t people give just $5 to MY kids?

There… I said it. Perhaps part of my frustration is that I see healthy children going to private schools here in the United States of America trying to raise money – and succeeding – while “my” kids in Haiti struggle to have food to eat. Most of them do not own shoes, and their families (if they’re blessed with families) do not have transportation. That means these sweet children have to walk barefoot over rocks and through unclean water. So many Haitian children are still living in tents, having lost their homes to the 2010 earthquake. The “fortunate” children who live in houses still do not have running water and electricity. A large amount of children in Haiti never get an education. There are also a lot of children who have medical problems that cannot be cared for in their country. They have to go through a long application process and waiting period to see if they are even eligible to come to the US to receive treatment. Since when did a human life fall short to luxuries of education here in the States?

It is so hard for me to understand why I can’t even get small donations for our mission. I’m not asking for much… less than a tub of cookie dough! I am asking folks to please give up a McDonald’s combo meal or a Starbuck’s Venti Latte for just one day. Then, donate $5 a month to Invest Hope… or another charity in a country stricken with poverty and disease. If you’d prefer to stay local, please find a Children’s Home, Food Bank, Shelter, or Special Needs program in your area. Look for the small, struggling nonprofits who have a greater and more direct impact to their communities. Give to them without expecting anything in return… and I promise, you will receive more satisfaction from it than you will ever get from cookie dough.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…”
– Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

To learn more about Invest Hope, click here. For details on how you can invest hope in the future of Haitian children, please contact us at info@investhope.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

Mission Statement

It seems as though I have had some struggles lately… pondering my life’s purpose. I was on a mission to determine how I could make the most of my years and figure out just why God has lead me down the path that He has.

I woke up one day – figuratively – when I realized that graphic design wasn’t satisfying my desire to help people. My solution was a job in the medical field. Certainly that service-oriented career would appease me. After going back to school and receiving certifications in Medical Office Administration, Medical Billing & Coding, and Nurse Aide, I quickly realized how badly I missed the creative release found in my previous art positions. Still trying to find my niche, but forgetting often to pray for guidance, I spent the course of 5+ years becoming more involved in community groups and national nonprofits.

Each year I donated more and more of myself, from designs to cash to time. I spent hours folding tshirts, selling ads, and raising money. I fell in love with the idea of turning this new-found hobby into a career, and started to apply for area organizations. With my marketing experience and my years of volunteering, I was called in for some interviews but all-in-all was unable to secure a position. This made me start to question my involvement… was I donating myself for the right reasons? …were the nonprofits I helped close to my heart? …did the money I raised or donated truly go towards the purpose I had intended?

After establishing my freelance business, I felt like I should start focusing more on faith-based or small local organizations, especially start up nonprofits. I was disappointed with the way larger nonprofits lost their focus and were filled with too much drama. I wanted to help on a smaller scale, in hopes of making a larger impact.

Jump ahead a few months. After making a VERY difficult decision to walk away from my most comfortable nonprofit (and the group of folks who I felt had become an extension of my family) I began praying that I would be introduced to whatever it was that was meant for me to serve God the best. I knew only He could provide me with the organization that would pull all of my strengths and fulfill my passion to help others. I was tired of trying to make things work on my own. I was bored with the limitations. I was annoyed with the drama. I was ready for a change. I was ready to make a significant difference!

Today I received a phone call from a friend. A friend, whom I have actually never met… and was only introduced to six short months ago. He (JW) was calling on behalf of his sister Ginny, whom I have also never met and have known for even a shorter amount of time. It’s one of those cases where I feel like I’ve known them longer than I have, and I just never stop to question it.

Ginny lives in Haiti. She is an RN from Ohio who has put a halt on a comfortable life here in the States to serve in a third-world country  devastated by earthquakes in Jan 2010 – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Ginny spent most of her time in Haiti working as a Missionary Nurse for a nonprofit based out of the midwest USA. During that time, she was introduced to and later granted guardianship of her daughter, Odessa. The first time I heard her story, I actually was a bit jealous. A nurse, living on an island, helping people – AND the adoptive mom of one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. I joked that she was living the life that I thought would best fit mine!

However, the more I learned by reading her blog, the more I realized how strong Ginny is and how weak & unprepared I am to take on such roles. My biggest set back was that I never finished nursing school due to financial reasons. I didn’t feel that I had anything to contribute, even for a short-term mission. However, I couldn’t help but feel like she and I had been introduced for a reason.

The phone call today was brief, but covered a lot and can probably be considered life changing. Ginny has decided to start her own mission in Haiti. She wants to offer microloans and vocational training to Haitians as a way to build their trade skills and boost the economy. Initially I was asked to design the logo and assist with social media marketing. Before I could jump at the chance to scream YES! the conversation went a little further. I couldn’t believe what JW was asking. He said that Ginny wanted me to sit on the mission’s Board of Directors, if I would be interested. He said that if I agreed, Ginny encouraged me to start planning a trip to Haiti within the next year and explained that her mission would be built around the principal that everyone has something to contribute to the country. Having lived in Haiti for the past 3 years, Ginny has seen first hand the need for more than just medical and construction missionaries. In this 10 minute phone call, everything practically fell into place. God not only puts people in your life for a reason, but He uses them to answer our prayers.

I am so excited to see where this adventure takes us all. I hope that it will provide a chance for me to meet these friends, to gain new friends, to travel, to advocate, to help make a difference in Haiti, and most importantly to serve God!

Our first step is to actually name the mission, and establish the board members so that we can request nonprofit status and a 501c3. I’m sure I will be posting regular updates as this thing unfolds. Please keep Ginny & Odessa in your prayers, as she is the heart of this mission & the only one on the board living in Haiti, and pray for our mission.