After I returned from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2017, I met with my friend Bill Huebsch. I told him about my first visit – my hopes for providing help and my shock of experiencing firsthand the extreme poverty and hopelessness of many children. I will never forget his words to me, "If you want to make a difference, you'll have to move there."
I had every reason to listen. Bill’s family started Common Hope, a very successful organization that works to end the cycle of poverty for children in Guatemala through a holistic, relationship-based model. I’d be overjoyed if we could build a Common-Hope-like program in St. Vincent.
I listened to Bill, but I didn't really hear. Maybe I didn't want to hear. Maybe I don't have enough faith and rationalized that God didn't ask Abraham to move until he was 75 years old. Maybe I’m stubborn and resistant.
With leaders in St. Vincent, I had developed a plan to help children in the orphanages and group homes who had experienced trauma. The project provided three layers of training for mentoring children and adolescents:
- Kinship Mentor Training
- Stephen Ministry Leadership Training (Thanks to a generous family, the Stephen Ministry training is fully funded!)
- Mental Health and Spiritual Direction Training.
It’s a great plan. I was sure we could implement it with people from St. Vincent without me moving there. So I did some training on four different visits to St. Vincent. In February 2020, David and Karen Downing of Kinship Partners conducted formal Kinship Mentor Training. I had two great coordinators from St. Vincent who are energetic and motivated – Salene and Collin (now Fr. Collin).
We are not currently offering mentoring in St. Vincent. There were two main obstacles.
1. After the February 2020 training, COVID-19 prevented future travel for follow-up training and starting the pilot project.
2. Salene and Collin both have two full-time jobs. They are both teachers as a first job. For their second full-time job, Salene is the Executive Director of Guadalupe Home for Girls, and Fr. Collin is the pastor of Corpus Christ parish.
The first layer of the mentoring plan has been on hold. Some might say that I failed. I like to think like Thomas Edison - “Every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
So now, travel restrictions have been lifted, and we are attempting to get a full-time Mentor Coordinator living in St. Vincent. You might be surprised to learn that we can hire a full-time coordinator for $6600 per year! We plan to fully fund the position for two years and then gradually reduce our support by 20% per year until funding is absorbed by local fundraising, grants, and donations in St. Vincent.
Your donation would fund this position as follows:
one hour = $3.44
one day = $27.50
one week = $137.50
one month = $550
With your help, I'm sure this plan will work before I turn 75 or move permanently to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.