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February 2021 Happenings
for
Hope House in Mexico

 

******    Special Request  *****
 
Here is our monthly (más o menos) newsletter to keep our friends and family updated on what is happening with Hope House Children's Relief (HHCR) and Hope House in Mexico. For those who don't know, HHCR is our not-for-profit 501(c)3 and all donations received are directed solely to Hope House (Casa Hogar Mi Esperanza en el Corazon) in Ixtlahacan de Los Membrillos, Jalisco, Mexico. The newsletter will provide updates on the boys - especially the new ones - a little insight into the staff, teams, vocational training, projects, and items of special interest.  If you know of someone that would be interested in HHCR/Hope House, Mexico updates, they can subscribe here.

A copy of last month's newsletter can be found here.  If you go to this website there is a link to all previous newsletters.
Financial Progress Report
In the November Newsletter we indicated that in January 2021 HHCR would become the primary provider of financial support to Hope House. This did occur and fortunately we were prepared  as after a few very generous donations we had set aside a reserve in anticipation. Originally we determined that with the reserve and designated recurring funds, we could provide support through November 2022. Then in January and again in February of 2021, with the generosity of a number of people, we were able to move that time period now to the end of 2023. This takes significant pressure off the administrative staff of Hope House. Hope House is extremely grateful for the generosity of HHCR donors.  
New Video
 
We mentioned last month that Hope House has prepared a video that gives a complete overview of this wonderful facility for formerly abandoned and abused boys. For those of you that have not seen it, the video can be found here. Please share this video and newsletter with as many people as you can! We have found that visibility is a key ingredient of raising funds. We would also be very willing to combine your use of this video with a Zoom or Google Meet chat so that questions can be answered. If this sounds like something that you would like to do with your work, church, or friends, contact us at our email.
The Boys
Hope House just gained another boy this last month so they are up to fifteen again, primarily because Pandemic restrictions make it a challenge to bring in more boys. The administrative staff continues to seek additional boys so that more are kept off the streets and are provided a safe and secure home in addition to providing them hope and skills for the future.

One new boy came to Hope House. His photo is below. His name is José Ángel and is the brother of Cristian, who came to Hope House a month ago. José Ángel is 10 years old. He is starting his new life at Hope House with a smile since he is now with his brother. Welcome José Ángel!!
Last month we did introduced Cristian and the first photo below was on his first day at Hope House. The photo below that is after a few days. Naturally he looks happier and more relaxed. The newcomers sense a more secure and loving environment. In some cases they come with medications, especially if they are from a larger group home. They often come with "baggage". The special care they receive at Hope House definitely minimizes that.
Pandemic Lockdown Continues
Because of the pandemic, activities of the boys have been somewhat curtailed. So it is a challenge to get interesting photos. Schools remain closed. How many photos can we keep posting of the boys doing their school work or studying? However, that continues to be one of the main thrusts of activity at Hope House -- keeping the boys up to speed on their school work  given they can't be in a classroom.

Below on the left is Leo  and on the right is Kevin. Closed schools are a challenge for the staff to make sure each boy from different grades is keeping up with school work. Even after a year of this, they are meeting the challenge very well.

In addition to maintaining studies during the pandemic, the aquaponics is still continuing with boys being trained and produce being grown. Unfortunately training in the woodshop is currently at a standstill until Hope House can more aggressively search for an instructor to utilize the shop to its fullest. The boys are also being provided an exercise regimen to keep them physically fit. In spite of the pandemic, their physical, mental and spiritual needs are being maintained.
Music is another area that is not only easy to do  but provides a useful change of pace during the pandemic restrictions. Omar played the ukulele and sang with the boys in the music area of the educational facility. Here is an example video for your entertainment -- enjoy!
 
Non-Funding-Related Special Request

In August 2016 we decided to begin this newsletter so that our friends, and especially donors, could feel like they were part of Hope House. Also the donors could see that their generosity was being wisely invested in giving the boys of Hope House  shelter and hope. We styled it after the Life Magazine of years ago -- lots of pictures, few words. Over the years we have been getting feedback that we were on the right path and this is confirmed by the fact that the number of people reading the newsletter is almost a percentage point above the average for comparable ones.

We would like to know from you, our readers, what your thoughts are on the newsletter. Are there ways that we can improve? Your feedback is greatly appreciated since we want to ensure that a useful report is being produced each month. Let us know by responding to this email.
Kitchen Staff

Obviously food preparation is key to Hope House in spite of any pandemic. There is a dedicated staff that works faithfully providing three meals a day for the boy as as well as the staff.  The three photos below are of the staff who work in the kitchen. Notice how precautions are taken for the pandemic, not only are they wearing masks but they are also using plastic face shields to protect against any possibility of spreading the virus. Thus far Hope House has been successful in not having any Covid-19 cases.. 
Speaking of the kitchen staff, each of them were required to take a course to become certified chefs. The top photo is the course work that they studied. The photo below that is a certificate stating that they are now government certified and qualified cooks. Hope House administrative staff continues to strive for excellence in all that they are doing. . 

In fact, Annel, the administrative director says the following about her staff: "I am happier each day as I can see how many tasks are being accomplished. The Hope House dining room has the ability to function in the best way for the boys. The cooks are constantly in training. The boys and counselors have workshops for healthy eating. A menu has been developed to meet the needs of Hope House. It is gratifying to see how much is being accomplished by the Hope House team".

The two books in the final photo are the manuals generated by Hope House staff to provide consistency and quality in the kitchen.
Aquaponics

The aquaponics system at Hope House that has been in existence for 11 years is still performing beyond expectation and the produce is now being used, not only for use by the kitchen staff, but it is being traded for meat at a local butcher shop. For those of you who don't know much about the aquaponics system at Hope House, here is a short history.

In 2011 our personal Spanish teacher suggested thinking about getting an aquaponics system for Hope House as it could provide a source of food as well as be sold with the proceeds going to support the boys. Being geeks this meant we did an internet search to find out what aquaponics was and determine if it would be of benefit.  The first system was built in 2011 followed by a second system built in 2012. The collages below show pictorially what has transpired over the last 10 years.

In 2011, after we determined that it made sense, students from The Kings Academy (TKA) came to help in starting the first system. Our Spanish teacher and some of his friends helped launch the aquaponics as well as contribute funds to built it. The first collage shows the initial construction in the top row and photo on the left in the middle row. Before this transpired, the students had to do a lot of shoveling and removal of some trees and dirt that was in the way.  One of the experiences for the TKA students was mixing the concrete by hand -- no cement mixer. This was tedious but helped them appreciate construction techniques in Mexico.
 
In 2012 two of our sons and two of their friends came down to help build the second system. We were able to receive sufficient funds from various organizations to help in building the second system. The two right photos in the middle row and the left photo on the bottom row show this system being built. The last two photos on the bottom row are of two of the workers showing the system was complete and the far right is the now completed aquaponics systems. The aquaponics area was enclosed in a structure holding shade cloth to keep the birds away. My wife sewed the shade cloth panels.

Prior to getting solar panels, it turns out the cost of electricity to run the pumps, which ran almost continuously because of the need to oxygenate  the water to keep the fish alive, was prohibitive. The decision was then made to turn the original aquaponics system into raised beds with the surrounding area being in-the-ground gardens. This provided training for the boys on three different modes of gardening, on the ground, above the ground and then aquaponics. Over the years we have become very knowledgeable about aquaponics and have actually had some folks visit to see it, especially in the beginning. It has become a showcase for Hope House.

The second collage is of some of the products grown over time. Aquaponics consists of tanks of fish to help fertilize the water, the water being pumped up to raised flow beds where the plants clean the water which is then recirculated to the fish tanks. The boys have had many fish feasts. That is shown in the two left picture on the first row. The other photos depict the various areas of the three garden areas and the products that were grown.  

The bottom collage shows some of the current garden products being grown. Because of the flow beds, lettuce  is predominant. On the left are peas, then on the top right, potatoes and the bottom right tomatoes. Currently the boys and staff are growing a large variety of produce. As mentioned, these are being used to trade for meat at a local butcher shop. This has been one of the biggest success stories of Hope House.   Besides, it is excellent training for the boys as they go through the whole process of planting, growing, and harvesting in three different forms of gardening. They also gain experience in marketing
Financial Status
HHCR is committed to provide financial support to meet budget requirements each month and help Hope House expand and grow and get more boys off the street and give them the tools to give them hope for the future.. At this point we have been blessed to provide for all operational expenses for almost the next three years.  But we need to go beyond that and that is what we will be seeking in the future. Of course, committed monthly donors are the key to the permanent sustainability of the boys home. Special projects, however, come out of reserves. We are looking for donors that might be willing to replenish these reserves so that there are funds available for future maintenance and repairs as well as unanticipated emergencies that may arise. 
Remember, HHCR has been approved by PayPal as a legitimate 501(c)3 charity. This makes HHCR part of the PayPal Giving Fund. The impact is that all donations made through the PayPal Giving Fund are free of any fees. And since HHCR operates without any management fees, every dollar donated through use of the PayPal Giving Fund button goes 100% to Hope House. Some of our donors have already made use of this opportunity to donate to HHCR.  Donations, including recurring donations can also be made via Clover Donations through our website, PayPal, bank transfer, or via check to our Laredo address.  At this time the PayPal Giving Fund only works for one-time donations. Recurring donations can be made through the regular PayPal link.

HHCR is now also registered for Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) with Fidelity Charitable. 

You too can make a difference.

Even the smallest donation helps a boy have the safety, security, and love of a home environment, plus the education to succeed in life.

Donate via PayPal Giving Fund - no Fee to Donor
Donate via Hope House Children's Relief Website
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Our website is at www.hopehousechildrensrelief.org

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