Getting to know our global community: Kallie Haas

Getting to know our global community: Kallie Haas

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kallie Haas, and I became involved with HOH when my best friend forwarded me a Facebook post by another HOH member. I reached out to that person, who then got me in contact with Amy. I told her, “Sure! I can fly down to Mexico in July (2018) and teach English. Why not? I don’t know anyone or really anything about this program, but it sounds legit :)”

Tell us about your past experiences with Hands Offering Hope.
For two summers, I have taught the first half of English classes at the Institute. I have shared the English teacher role with the lovely Kim Johnson. My goal during the first two weeks is to get the first years as comfortable as possible using spoken English in order to build confidence towards conversation. During the first week of the Institute, I review basic spoken and written English to prepare the Fellows for their work with Miss Kim. In January 2020, I had the honor to be a part of the Winter Conference for Educators in Kantunilkin! I presented a workshop on innovating and engaging classroom strategies to 100 community teachers! It was an incredible experience! I have grown in so many ways, thanks to my time working with HOH.

What did your involvement look like this year, and how did going virtual affect it?
This summer I helped create virtual English lessons for the Institute students. This role was fun because it caused me to stretch my creativity into a new arena, but I am very sad that I won’t get to teach our students face-to-face. I love sharing meals with them and hearing about their lives. Teaching is more than giving information to someone. Teaching is about community and relationship building. I will miss the relationships the most.

Tell us about someone who invested in your own leadership. Why did their investment in you matter?
My high school class council sponsor, Mr. Chuck Powers, invested in my leadership development. He allowed my creativity and drive to set all kinds of events in motion. He facilitated but never directed my efforts. Mr. Powers gave me free reign for fundraising, community service projects, and outreach. If I could dream it up, and find the volunteers to make the work happen, he was behind me. He gave me the confidence to believe I was mighty. Without Mr. Powers, I might not have had the strength to overcome peer pressure or home life stress. I still carry the attitude that I can make things happen simply because Mr. Powers told me so when I was 16 years old. I pray that I am continuing to make him proud as an adult, and that I am living out his legacy through my work as an educator.

Do you have any encouragement for students?
There are so many people in this world you may never meet but they are all supporting you! They want you to succeed and are rooting for you every step of the way! You will be stronger leaders and agents of global change for tackling and overcoming the extra challenge pandemic-era Institute! Keep going! Stay strong! We love you!! You are worthy!

 

The storm has passed. Here is where we stand.

The storm has passed. Here is where we stand.

The electricity just came back on at Casa Hope, so a few moments ago, I was able to connect with Gener and the team in Mexico. Friends, we have amazing news to share following an incredibly difficult few days in the path of Hurricane Delta.

  1. Families found safe shelter at Casa Hope. Because of your rapid generosity, we housed 55 people at Casa Hope for the last three days. Your donations made it possible for us to create a safe place for families, provide food and much-needed supplies, and even offer educational activities for the kids staying with us. Thank you!
  2. Our kitchen served hundreds of people. In addition to those who were staying with us, we fed an additional 50 people at Casa Hope and hundreds more staying in other refuge locations over the last three and a half days.
  3. We became a resource for the entire community’s hurricane response. Three other shelter locations in town—the high school, the cultural center, and the center for child services—all ran out of food after one day. Because of your generosity, our team was able to prepare large quantities of atole (warm rice milk) and beans, which we then shared with these other shelters to feed hundreds more families in need of sustenance.
  4. We never ran out of water. This is, frankly, a miracle. At Casa Hope, our water is pulled from two large wells on the property which uses an electric pump to fill cisterns. When the electricity went out, we were fully prepared to lose water within one day—especially with so many more people at Casa Hope than normal. We never ran out.
  5. Casa Hope will continue to be a safe haven. We lost one big tree, but the clean up will be minimal—meaning we can continue opening our doors for our community as needed. Some families are still staying with us because it is not yet safe for them to return home.

Most of all, we want to say thank you. First, to Gener and Obed for their exceptional, brilliant response. They managed to organize all of this with only a few hours’ notice, and we are so grateful for their compassionate, wise leadership.

And second, to each of you. The way this community has come together over the past few days has been nothing short of remarkableYour quick response made it possible for us to creatively care for so many families—both through the storm and in the days ahead.

We’ll keep you posted on next steps, but I didn’t want to go into the weekend without pausing to acknowledge just how significant the past few days have been. Thank you for being a part of this with us.

Getting to know our global community: Kony Pinchi

Getting to know our global community: Kony Pinchi

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kony Pinchi, and I am a teacher by profession. I currently work as a project assistant for Hands Offering Hope.

Tell us about your past experiences with Hands Offering Hope.
I met Amy a few years ago and that’s how I became involved with the organization. My first year with HOH I was the translator for some of the students. Since that year I have been an English teacher and the music teacher for Institute Jr. I have also done a little bit of everything else with the Institute, from helping in the kitchen to assisting with anything that needed help.

Tell us about someone who invested in your own leadership. Why did their investment in you matter?
I was 15 years old when I met my ESL teacher. I had no idea what role she was going to play in my life but it sure did change my life for the better. My friend Michelle invested in me from day one. She not only helped me with my schoolwork while teaching me English, she also picked me up every Sunday morning to go to church. She took the time to just listen and be there for me in times I needed the most. I learned so much from her. She taught me how to carry myself in tough situations, she also set a great example of how a Christian woman should behave inside and out. She was a constant person in my life. We have now been friends for 20 years. She is a friend who became family to me. If there is a time in my life I feel like giving up, I think of her and her investment in me, and I push forward.

Do you have any encouragement for students?
We are all rooting for each and everyone of you. Near or far. We are here for whatever you need. Don’t think just because you see us through a video that we are not there. Put the same effort and push as if we were there in person.

 

Update on Hurricane Delta

Update on Hurricane Delta

At 4:00 a.m. today, Hurricane Delta made landfall in the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.

Yesterday, in anticipation of the rapidly intensifying storm, Holbox and Chiquilá received evacuation orders—leaving many families without a safe place to go. Already, these same communities are without power and cell phone service, and the brunt of the storm is still on its way.

In response to this disaster, our team in Mexico moved quickly to transform Casa Hope into a haven for families in need of shelter. Led by Gener, Obed, and a team of student volunteers, we opened our doors yesterday afternoon and were quickly at capacity—filling all 40 of our available beds.

As of this morning, families at Casa Hope are doing well. We have a small team managing the kitchen, and we have distributed packs of toiletries and basic supplies to our guests and neighbors. We are also offering educational activities for the 20 children that are staying with us, and we have a team devoted to keeping the space clean and sanitized.

It’s all hands on deck, but it’s an honor to serve these families. We don’t yet know what the impact of the storm will be, but we plan to keep Casa Hope open as a refuge for as long as it is needed.

You can join our response and help us care for our guests at Casa Hope right now. A gift of $15 covers food and supplies for one person for one day.

Please continue to pray for these communities. We do not yet know the level of damage they may have already sustained, and we know that the storm isn’t over yet.

Grateful for your support and prayers.

 

 

Preguntas y Respuestas con Evelyn

Preguntas y Respuestas con Evelyn

(Questions and Answers with Evelyn)

Meet the 2020 Michael Lotito Fellows! This year’s class of Fellows is hard-working, creative, bold, and strong. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing their stories and dreams with you. We can’t wait for you to get to know these impressive young leaders.

Name: Evelyn
Hometown: Kantunilkin

How was your experience with the Institute last year?
It was a nice experience. From the moment you arrive, you feel like part of a big family, which is amazing. Every week was important, and being there helped me to become less shy and to become more interested in things that didn’t only affect me, but others, too. That first year helped me to discover who I was and learn to believe in myself and to forgive.

What was your favorite week of the Institute last year and why?
Self-discovery week was my favorite because this week helped me to continue in life without holding grudges or hating people who’ve hurt me. I learned to believe more in myself and to move on by accepting failures and achieving victories through trying things again and again.

Which class or theme did you like the best?
English class because it helped me to participate more and speak up more often. This class helped me a lot because studying English had been something that was very complicated, but now I want to try to learn, little by little.

What are your plans for the future?
One of my dreams is to be a teacher for young kids. I want to study psychology, specifically clinical psychology, because it’s something I’m interested in—I think because my personality is to want people to feel better when I’m with them. I know I will be able to achieve my goals.

Tell us a few fun facts about yourself.
My favorite foods are mole rojo and pozole, a local stew. On the weekends, I like to go on walks or bicycle rides; when I do this, I feel peace and quiet. My favorite classes in school are English and physics.

What app do you use the most and why?
The benefit of WhatsApp is that I can communicate with other people. On YouTube, I can search for videos of things I enjoy—animals, music.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
France