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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 remarkable. Your 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.
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.
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.
(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.
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?
Let’s be real, shall we?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been inundated with virtual meetings and gatherings over the past few months, and saying yes to another hour on your computer feels tiresome instead of life-giving. Believe me, I am with you.
And that is why I have the audacity to urge you to reconsider your Zoom fatigue and join me for an evening of authentic connection on September 25th. Because I know you want to actually do something now.
When the pandemic began ravaging the world, we faced it head on. Led by remarkable young people, we encouraged growth in the midst of paralysis, we pursued innovation in the midst of crisis, we built community in the midst of isolation.
In a time when connection felt impossible, we chased it down. And this is our commitment to you, to our students, and to our Hands Offering Hope family.
Friends, join us on September 25 for an evening of real, life-giving connection.
Learn how right now, you can be an active part of a bold mission, a big dream, and a story that just keeps growing—even in the face of enormous challenges.
RSVP by Friday, September 18 so we can send you a crucial part of this event—something that means leaving your mark on the lives of our students.
This is your opportunity to make a difference, to build community, and to be a part of something so much bigger than any one of us. Take a risk with me, will you? RSVP now for Casa Hope: Haven for Change and connect in a beautiful, tangible way to impact that is happening right this very moment.