St. Vincent Initiative

This article describes the first part of the intervention plan and is currently under review (so it might change a little). I have heard many people tell me to go slow and be patient. One of the gifts of the Spirit is patience (apparently also translated as "long-suffering").

So, rather than attempt to train people in January 2018, it has been suggested that I take a few more trips to build trust.

1) Visit three times in 2018 - spreading the word and building trust.
2) Engage an on-the-ground organizer to continue the enthusiasm between visits.
3) Get more details that will help in structuring sponsorships and agreements to keep the children/families in the programs.
4) Plan for the 3-layer mentoring training (Kinship Partners will help us) for 2019.

After the August 2017 Needs Assessment, we developed several goals:

  1. To continue to build trust with people in St. Vincent while working toward providing training programs. This will take time and patience. It will also need a "presence."
  2. Many children in SVG (especially those living in orphanages) will benefit from a relationship with caring adults. Resiliency can be nurtured through a relationship with a caring adult who can share a sense of hope.
  3. Provide one-on-one care for the boy in St. Benedict's Home. Completed.

We will train local community members to help children in the Homes using 3 "layers" of programming. Each child will be matched to an adult mentor or couple based on their needs. After the pilot project, we will expand mentoring to all children in need. We will provide training for adults to serve as volunteers or paid a stipend (more on that reasoning later). Training layers will be:

  • Kinship Partners training – to foster long-lasting relationships between caring adults and children and teens.
  • Stephen Ministry training – to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to children and teens who are hurting. (Later, this might expand to serve adults as well.)
  • Mental Health training and Spiritual Direction – to provide guidance to overcome trauma and abuse, and to find a connection to God acting in our lives.

Christian theology supports the notion that we are "called" to a certain action and led by the Spirit of God. Whatever your faith tradition, there is some similar notion of "God's will for my life." Discernment is the process of listening for that call. If a priest, pastor, or other church minister speaks of their calling, people accept this with a smile of respect. If a layperson speaks like this, we get a silent pause and then a smile of a different kind. This smile might be interpreted as "OoohKaaay. He's delusional." I've gotten that second smile enough times that I have just learned to keep quiet. Until now.

This is the story of how I see the Spirit working in the lives of people open to the gentle whisper of the Spirit.

Helping Children of St. Vincent and the Grenadines - First Visit Note: Church-state relationships in many parts of Central America and the Caribbean are tentative. I have been asked not to distribute this via the internet or social media lest it be read as critical of the people and government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). If you wish to share this, please share only with individuals. If you need the password, please contact us using the secure contact form at the top of the page.

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What is the St. Vincent Initiative?

We volunteer time in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

SVG is the third poorest country in the Caribbean. 48% of the population lives on USD $2.72 per day.

Many children are abandoned or abused and live in orphanages. Many more are traumatized due to multiple impacts.

There is one psychologist in the entire country.

There are too few counselors to meet the needs of the children, and systems are overloaded. The Catholic Church is the main NGO providing social services in SVG.

We were asked to help – namely, Jerry has been called and is building a team – by Bishop Gerard County of the Kingstown Diocese in SVG, which is the sister (or twin) diocese to the Diocese of Duluth, MN.

We believe that most "mental health" issues are, in reality, normal reactions to abnormal situations.

We believe that training local community members and professionals will make a long-term impact. Our philosophy is like the saying, "give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime."

We've conducted a needs assessment with local leaders (2017). We have developed a plan to provide three layers of training for mentoring children and adolescents

  1. Kinship Mentor Training
  2. Stephen Ministry Leadership Training
  3. Mental Health and Spiritual Direction Training.

We will conduct the Kinship Mentor Training in February 2020. David and Karen Downing of Kinship Partners have volunteered to do this. We need transportation expenses.

We will have two people attend the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training. Jerry will attend with Collin Jackson, the local SVG coordinator for our mentoring programs. These are volunteer positions, but transportation, fees, and tuition are needed.

We've trained many teachers at 5 schools and 3 homes for children. Here are some of our accomplishments to date:


 Training Orphanage Workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (The original article from 2017)

The St. Vincent Initiative is our collaboration with local church-sponsored orphanages and programs for children in SVG. In August 2017, we conducted the first Situational Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study to see how we might assist in training local workers.

On a Caribbean vacation, you see smiles and sunshine -- but that's not the reality of many who live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). 48% live on only USD 2.72 per day. Families and children suffer. Many children are abandoned or abused and live in orphanages.

Many Thanks SVI


Thank you, donors and volunteers, for helping with the initial phase of The St. Vincent Initiative: Training Orphanage Workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Rachel Kristyniak

Susan Chandler

Mike & Carol Smith

Steve & Katrina McCarthy