HOPE Blog

Just say no? Sometimes you just say yes!

Categories:

Sometimes you just say yes.

Our scholarship program is full. Maxed out for the year.

Recently a family in our scholarship program took in 3 family members. She wasn’t able to put the kids in school but they weren’t being beaten anymore and were able to eat regularly.

When we sat down with their grandma we found out a little more.

Mom went to Chile to work to send money back to the family. Grandma found out the kids she left behind were being treated as slaves and so she took them in. Took them into her home. A house already full. A home full of grandkids as moms are in Chile looking for work. Kids who aren’t hers.

She took them anyway.

Kids need to be in school so we said yes.

We met with a local principal and she said yes too! She enrolled the kids at half price tuition and allowed them to start school without uniforms! This is unheard of but madam Benita knows the value of education and that missing a year of school can be devastating.

Now we need you to say yes. We try hard to stay within budget. We often have to say no, but we all wanted to say yes.

For us, this marks change. This is community working together. These kids aren’t restaveks (slaves) any longer. They are in a family and in school!

We need your help. We need 3 sponsors at $40/month.

And to continue to help families with education scholarships, family medical care, and economic opportunities (jobs!) we need even more help. Our double matching commitment only has 13 more days. As of December 18 we have raised just over half ($25,010) of the $50,000 we need to get the full $50,000 matching. So in the next 13 days we need $24,990 to reach our year end goal. Will you say yes to help us reach our goal? If you can help us reach our goal please CLICK HERE or on the red donate button on our website.

Our Founder Recognized!

Categories:

Agency Profile: Missouri Agent Volunteers to Bring out the Best in People

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The Agent’s Advocate, a publication of The Doctors Company and is reprinted with permission of The Doctors Company.

When speaking with John Keane, president of The Keane Insurance Group, you quickly learn that his business values mirror his life values. Some of the first words you see on his company website are protect, inspire, and solve. He embodies these ideals, and they all shine through his overarching belief in serving others.

Explaining his approach to business, John said, “If you boil down what we do as a business, it’s providing a service. We sell insurance and with that comes the idea of servicing our clients.”

And when you hear his story of the past seven years and his work that extends beyond his agency, it’s clear his business philosophy is reciprocal to his personal life.

Catastrophe Strikes

Back in January of 2010, after a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, John realized he was in a unique position to help serve others.

“After the earthquake occurred, of course it was in the news and there were a lot of humanitarian efforts being made,” recalled John. “Much of that was in the form of doctors going over to Haiti to provide emergency medical care for the Haitians that were injured. And being in the medical malpractice business, with a lot of physicians, clients, contacts, and relationships, we got involved in fundraising to help send some doctors over to respond to emergency medical needs.”

His service efforts built from there.

In April of that year, John flew out to Haiti with his wife, his oldest son, and two of his employees. They traveled the country to experience Haiti and the culture, and witness the devastation that resulted from the earthquake. The group particularly noticed the effect the destruction had on young children, with the creation of large numbers of new orphans.

“It was a life-changing experience—you will never think the same way again,” remembered John. “We decided after that trip that this was something we wanted to get involved in and focus our resources on. So we took our charitable group, The Keane Charitable Group, rebranded it as the Haiti Orphan Project, and partnered with another organization to build an orphanage.”

In addition to the orphanage, over the next couple years, John and his volunteer groups also built a school, and developed and implemented a clean water system in the community where the orphanage and school were located.

“At that point, we thought about what the next thing could be to continue to help and support the folks in this community, and decided medical care was the biggest need,” John explained. “We started taking doctors over to Haiti on a regular basis. Every two to three months we would take trips with doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers, and set up mobile medical clinics with a tent and see as many patients as we could.”

John Keane (second from the left) leads a service trip to Haiti with more than 25 volunteers.

From Survival to Stability

As John made plans to build a more permanent medical clinic, his efforts took a turn when he discovered orphan care in Haiti wasn’t quite what he thought it was. He found out that 80 percent of the children in orphanages were what they called “economic orphans.” These were children who had a living parent or relative who could physically take care of them, but financially were too poor to do so. Because of that, the families gave up the children for adoption.

“That troubled us,” John said. “We were discouraged by the idea that families would be giving their children up for economic reasons and sending them to orphanages when they weren’t technically orphans. We determined we wanted to focus on the root of the problem—economic issues—and began working towards orphan prevention.”

They identified a three-prong process to stabilize family units, so families could afford to keep children in their homes and not be tempted to give them over to orphan care. The first prong was job creation, to help lift them out of poverty. The second was education, something only available to children in orphanages or to families who paid for a private education; Haiti has no public education. The third prong was to continue to pursue the healthcare part of their project. Once they expanded the strategy, they renamed the initiative to the Hope Community Project.

“And that’s pretty much where we are today. Just recently, we secured a piece of land where we will be building our permanent medical clinic and housing our job creation program,” explained John. “Up until now, we’ve been renting and leasing properties. We’re going to aggregate everything on that piece of land in the community we’re working in and grow our programs there.”

Creating a Service Culture

John’s work in Haiti has inspired many others to volunteer their services. He says his eight children nearly fight over who gets to help next.

Several of his business partners have been motivated to go to Haiti. One of these was Bill Fleming, chief operating officer of The Doctors Company. Bill coordinated a father-son trip with his own son, and John and his son of the same age.

John Keane (second from the left), accompanied by his son, Benjamin (left), Bill Fleming (second to the right), and Bill’s son, Jonathan (right). The four of them provided services to patients visiting this Hope Community Project clinic.

And more than 20 of John’s employees have made a trip out there. One way he encourages this is by offering each employee a paid service week, and he also gives six scholarships a year to cover travel costs.

“We try to make it as feasible and as easy for them as possible,” John said. “That’s really encouraged our employees over the years.”

In addition to his service in Haiti, John also gets his agency involved in fundraising activities throughout the year.

“We sponsor a golf tournament, a 5K race, wine tasting, and a concert in our community here. We do all kinds of fundraising events that are all put on and run by an amazing group of employees who freely volunteer their time,” he said.

In explaining the culture he is developing, John elaborated, “To the extent that you can create a culture of service, externally, in doing projects and serving the community and the world at large, you’re encouraging that mentality in people.”

“I think it flows through the way they do their job and the way they serve our clients—and serve one another .”

©2017 The Doctors Company

Community Development in Action

Categories:

[From Field Director Luke Brouwer] Meetings, meetings and more meetings! In the past couple of weeks HOPE, with the guidance of our cooperative development partner pCH, ran a series of focus groups in our community. HOPE staff worked with two social workers from pCH and participated in twelve different group meetings with about 150 people from the community in 10 days. These groups were made up of a whole spectrum of different groups including: community leaders, pastors, teachers, medical professionals, young people, the elderly, and more, and are used as a tool to assess the needs and resources of the community. During the process HOPE staff were taught how to use various methods, tools and group activities to facilitate the group process and to gain access to the kind of information that would help us get a good assessment of community.

One of the things that really hit me as we walked through this process was how much some people have suffered. You would think after more than three years here in Haiti I would grow immune to it, but as I sat with a group of elderly folks from the poor community behind Paradise Village I was overwhelmed. One woman in her seventies never spoke about her family, instead referring to them as the ti moso, the little bit she had left—she had lost her husband and 7 of her 9 children! We met with people who have no access to clean water and a section of the community behind us where many people have no toilet whatsoever and simply do their business on the ground.

Thankfully, as in any community, it wasn’t all bleak, we also met people who have really contributed to their community, who want to see it change and are willing to be a part of the process. We met Madame Benita, a school director who has taken many kids into her school whose parents can’t pay and Eddy the pastor whose little house is overflowing with kids he took in off the street. We met community leaders who told us about the improvements to the roads they had been a part of implementing and heard countless visions for a cleaner, stronger community.

Probably the most important take away for our staff was seeing how much the greater community enjoyed participating in this process. People in almost half of the groups talked with us afterwards about how much they had enjoyed being a part of the process and wondered if there would be follow up meetings and the opportunity to meet again. In fact, Mickenson and I will be doing some follow up meetings with a small group of local Pastors in the new year. The process shed light on both the suffering and the resilience of our Haitian community. I walked away feeling hopeful. Yes there are problems; many complicated problems, but there are resources and a desire within the community to be a part of the development process and if there is anything we are learning here in Haiti, it’s that the people we are working with need to be invested and motivated in order for our projects to work.

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Well, we use and modify that as “Give someone food and feed her for a day. Help her begin a small business and she feeds her family for a lifetime.

A huge part of what we do is help families jumpstart a small business where they can get on a path toward self sustainability. That’s what these meetings are all about. God uses these kinds of efforts to help people escape extreme poverty. Assistance is provided, but not at the expense of the dignity of the Haitian people. And an end to aid comes into sight.

Will you help us continue to provide this type of assistance? Your donations are doubled between now and December 31 thanks to a few generous supporters.

If you have not made a gift to HOPE, would you consider a gift of $500 or $200 or $100 to help us meet our $100,000 goal? You can be a part of helping families become self sufficient so their children can remain in their families where they will receive the love and care they deserve.

CLICK HERE to make a tax-deductible gift. And remember up to total gifts of $50,000 your gifts are doubled through December 31! Together we can make a lifetime of difference.