First things first: a huge thank you to everyone who used Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to support Creators of Hope. Our mission couldn’t run without you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
We’re now planning for our next trip to Jamaica, which will be in January 2018. Our volunteers will put our mission into practice, building homes for families who need them.
When you volunteer with Creators of Hope, you’re part of something extraordinary. You’re helping to change the future, not just for a single family, but for whole communities at a time. You’re giving the gifts of safety and security. You’re providing people with the foundation for a better life, one in which they can help and support each other while they work toward a bright future for themselves and their children.
Volunteers don’t need special training: you learn the simple building skills you need on the job. Imagine watching a house coming together, with sturdy walls, a watertight roof, and secure windows and doors, and knowing that it’s the work of your hands and the hands of the team around you that make this happen. Imagine meeting the people who will live in that house and sharing their joy as they celebrate the day they move in. You probably remember the happiness of moving into a new house you loved. Now think about how it would have felt if that place had also been the first real home you had ever known.
In January, we’ll send a team of about 14 people to Porus, Jamaica, to work with Father Baylon and the families we’re able to help this year. In future, we hope to have enough funding to send two to three teams every week throughout the winter. (Imagine how many more houses we could build then!)
Learn more about us, get involved, and over the next few weeks, get ready to learn more about our mission trips!
Happy Thanksgiving! If you’re like my wife Kim, you’re caught up in menu planning, making sure you have all the dinner fixings and ingredients you need, and maybe dreading that last shopping trip on the one day of the year when the grocery store will be jammed to the gills. And maybe you’re wondering, too, how it got to be Thanksgiving already, and then Christmas is right around the corner…yikes!
Let’s take a minute out of the busy-ness and think about why we celebrate Thanksgiving. In your own life, what are you most thankful for?
The people you love are probably high up on your list. Friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues: the ones who make you smile, the ones you trade laughter with, the ones who cheer you on when you need it, the same way you do for them. Maybe you’re sharing Thanksgiving dinner with some of those people, and you’re thankful for their company on a special day. Maybe you’re thankful, too, for people who aren’t here anymore, but who left behind memories that stay in your mind like sunlight.
You might be thankful, too, for your home itself. Sometimes we take home for granted. We know the place inside and out, and we know where all its warts are: the creaky floorboards, the water-stain on the ceiling from that time when the roof leaked, that permanent purple spot on the living room rug where the grape juice spilled. Sometimes we get tired of looking at the same stuff over and over, and we want to be anyplace else…but when we do go away, we come back to find home waiting for us, and we slip back into it like we slip into our favorite pair of jeans.
At Creators of Hope, we’re thankful for the opportunity to build homes for families who need them. We’re grateful to know what a difference we can make in people’s lives, by giving them a simple place where they can bring together the people they love, and where they can come back, and the end of each day, and find safety and comfort waiting for them.
We’re thankful, too, for our volunteers who help us build these homes, and for our supporters, who make all our work possible. We’re thankful for you, reader, you who are taking time out of your busy day to read this post, because you care.
Tuesday, 11/28, is #GivingTuesday. On the international day of giving back, consider helping us at Creators of Hope achieve our goal of expanding our mission in 2018, so that more families will have even more to celebrate next year. Meanwhile, learn more about what we do, get involved, and mark your calendar for Tuesday!
I first went to Jamaica on a mission trip. Most people go to the Caribbean looking for surf, sand, tropical sunsets, great food, and for sure, I was looking forward to the sunshine and a break from the Wisconsin winter. What mattered to me most, though, was making a difference.
Once I left the sparkling and manicured tourist areas behind, I got to see the real Jamaica. Right away, I could barely believe my eyes. In the green inland country, families crowded together in tiny shacks pieced together out of scrap plywood and sheets of corrugated metal. Leaky roofs let in the rain. Gaps in walls stood in for windows. The shacks could barely hold the number of people who slept on their rickety floors, and the walls looked ready to collapse any second.
People lived in these conditions because they didn’t have a choice. Here’s the thing: Jamaica’s economy and infrastructure don’t provide much opportunity. If you don’t work in the tourist industry, you don’t have options. Rural families try to scrape a living through farming, but even with back-breaking work, making enough money to build a future for yourself and your family is basically impossible.
The contrast between poverty in Jamaica and poverty in the United States hit me hard. In the States, the huge variety of industries and businesses in operation means that while poverty does exist in many places, opportunity is there too. Jobs are out there. In Jamaica, people don’t have the same kinds of options. No matter how much they might want to get away from the endless struggle and trap of rural poverty, there’s no way out.
I knew I had to commit myself to more than just one mission trip. I came home from that first trip determined to find a way to bring hope and opportunity to Jamaica’s people.
Creators of Hope’s mission centers on the idea that a family with a home has the foundation to build a better life. The mission doesn’t stop there, though. Creators of Hope also works with local organizations to help families develop business and entrepreneurial skills, manage money, and keep kids in school. Home is the heart of a larger mission to change the lives of the rural poor, one family at a time.
Want to help us? Learn more about our work and support #GivingTuesday. On the international day of giving back, help us do more for Jamaica’s families!
The name “Jamaica” conjures up certain pictures for a lot of us. Turquoise water and soft sand. Palm and banana trees. Wonderful, spicy, citrusy food, and tall drinks with ice and mint and a sweet touch of rum. And then there’s the music, the rhythms of calypso and reggae and ska. They’ll make you clap your hands, tap your feet, and when you can’t hold back anymore, get up and dance.
Tourists go to Jamaica looking for the perfect beach fantasy, and a lot of them find it. But if you leave the coast behind and go a little deeper inland, you’ll find a different reality.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the sugar trade dominated the Caribbean. On islands like Jamaica, sugar plantations meant a sharp divide in terms of wealth and opportunity. The people who owned the plantations had access to the best of everything. The people who worked them didn’t, and instead, faced a daily struggle for survival that left them with no resources to try for anything better.
This means that in Jamaica today, many of the million and more people living below the poverty line were born into their circumstances, like their parents and grandparents before them, going back generations. It’s a trap that keeps repeating itself. Without money, you can’t give your kids a good education or keep a roof over your head. You can’t make plans for the future when you’re caught in a present that takes all the strength you’ve got.
Think for a second what it would be like for you personally, if you had to choose between having something to eat, and making your mortgage or rent payment.
Think for a second what it would be like for you personally, if you had to choose between having something to eat, and making your mortgage or rent payment. You’d probably take the food, so you could get by, but then you wouldn’t have the security of doors you could lock and windows you could shut. You’d get worn out trying to find the next meal and keep your loved ones safe. You might lose the energy even to hope for a better life.
The choice between food and home is a real one for many of Jamaica’s poor. This is where Creators of Hope comes in.
The homes we build are simple, but they provide hard-working families with one of the things they need most: security. With a place they can call their own, these families have the foundation to build a real future, and get out of the trap they’ve lived in for too long.
Learn about our mission, get involved, and mark your calendar for #GivingTuesday on November 28. On the global day of giving back, help us change more families’ lives!
Take a minute and think about your favorite place in your home. If you happen to be reading this at home, go to that favorite place and look around.
What’s your “sanctum sanctorum,” your best refuge? If you’re a writer, maybe it’s your office, with your trusty writing desk. (My desk is a secretary, old wood with a dark varnish, and it has all those cubbyholes that are so satisfying to look at even though they fill up so fast.) Or maybe your favorite place is your kitchen, with racks of spices neatly arranged, and gleaming pots and pans ready to be called into use for the next family meal. Or maybe it’s your den, with the recliner you can adjust to exactly the right angle, or the couch that knows your angles and curves, and the TV set up with all your favorite shows.
Put yourself in that place. Do it literally if you can. Think about what you enjoy when you’re there: the rhythm of cutting up veggies for soup, or the way your computer keys tap and click under your fingers when inspiration hits, or the way your favorite movie makes you laugh. Think especially about how it feels to go to that place after a long day, or after something has stressed you out, or if you’ve gotten tough news. In your refuge, you can rest and find comfort again.
Now take a minute and imagine something more difficult. Imagine if your favorite place wasn’t there.
What would it be like if you had to go from one day, to the next, to the next, with no place where you felt safe? No matter how much you needed to, you wouldn’t be able to hole up and rest, forget the world for a while. You’d always have one eye open, or both eyes, watching for danger, worrying about what might happen next to you or your family.
Exhausting, right? All of us get tired, but not many of us know what it’s like to get as tired as that. Imagine how it would feel. Imagine how badly you would want to change things, for yourself and your family, and how tough it would be if you knew you couldn’t.
Jamaica’s rural poor face this reality all the time. Creators of Hope wants to change this for them.
Creators of Hope is founded on the belief that every family deserves a safe place to call their own, and that building homes changes lives both for individual families and for the whole community. Learn more about our mission, get involved, and explore the way our group is changing the world for Jamaica’s people.
#GivingTuesday is coming on November 28. Consider supporting Creators of Hope on this international day of giving back!