Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cottage Cove - The New Job

The wonderful, beautiful thing about G-d is that His ways are not our ways.

Sometimes, He does things like take a girl who'd been planning to go into Marine Biology and have her move to Nashville and study Music Business.  Sometimes, He'll take that same Music Business Major and have her move to South Korea to teach English.  Sometimes, He'll take that English-teaching Music Business Major and have her join an urban-ministries after school program called Cottage Cove and become their newest program manager.

Cottage Cove is an after school program that focuses on the spiritual, educational, and artistic development of each of our students. (You can find more details about our program at the link above!) Every day, we work with  50-70 students, making sure they get their homework done, feeding them snacks (and dinner on longer days), and giving them opportunities for life skills and fine arts classes.

If you've paid attention to me at all, you already know that I adore my current job.

On April 11 of 2014, we are going to be closing on Cottage Cove's second facility in order to expand our reach to Madison, TN of the greater Nashville area.  This new facility is going to become my home away from home, and I will be in charge of running the day-to-day program there.  This is both exciting and daunting, but the staff here at our Nashville Vine Hill location is working with me and getting me trained.  Once I'm at Madison, we're going to be running the daily program and slowly renovating the building as time goes on, hopefully using it as an opportunity to expand our community (maybe even into yours!) and grow bonds.

Let me know if you're interested in coming by and seeing what we do, even getting involved!  But if you're looking for some immediate ways to make an impact, let me make a couple of suggestions:
  1. Please pray!  Pray for our everyday operations.  Pray for the new facility.  Pray for the kids we serve and their families.  Pray for me and my attempts to return my Spanish-speaking abilities to their pre-Korea level (I'm primarily going to be working with kids from Hispanic backgrounds while I'm in Madison).
  2. Please prayerfully consider donating to our closing costs on the new facility.  We are going to need $85,000 on April 11.  As of February 26, G-d had provided $40,000.  As is frequently His way, monetary things tend to come down to the wire around here, but He's always come through for us, and we know He will again.  Your gift of any amount will help a multitude of kids for years to come.
Photo: Cottage Cove is excited to announce that we are purchasing a second property/facility in the Madison area of Nashville – with a goal of serving this very needy area starting in August.  As with our existing facility, it is our goal to renovate this new location over time, even while serving through it, so lots of service opportunities will exist in the next few years.  We were able to acquire it for $85,000 (which we need for closing on April 11) AND God has already provided commitments of $40,000 toward this!!!  Please prayerfully consider helping us with this fantastic opportunity; your gift of any amount will help a multitude of kids for years to come.  [FYI, the teen girl holding the banner is the same one featured on it years ago – now a volunteer.]
And, just so you know: The teen girl holding the banner is the same one featured on it years ago – now a volunteer.  This is a beautiful program that is really making a difference in the lives of the families it serves and the life of Nashville as a whole.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Carpe Diem: The Downloadable Edition

Remember when my students were super awesome and recorded a song?

Well, now you can watch it, courtesy of the incredible Adam Thomas of Adam Thomas Photography :

And you can download it.

I'm so ridiculously proud of these kids all over again.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Home and Life Orphanage Foundation

The destruction caused by the Tsunami on 26th December 2004 still leaves many people and children in southern Thailand homeless, jobless and hopeless. A huge amount of short-term aid has come in from around the world to relieve the immediate physical, psychological and spiritual needs. The present situation is that many remote Tsunami victim families still haven’t received any kind support from any government or other organizations. No work, no jobs and no income has had an enormous effect on families. Their children have difficulty going to school; this problem leads to other social issues such as youth gang culture, criminal cases, love affairs and drug abuse in the Phang Nga area. After getting enough information, and without any delay, Mr. Bhudit (Root) and Mrs. Rasa decided to build their team and establish a home for the orphans called “Home & Life” in Thaimuang district, Phang Nga province.

“Home & Life” Foundation was officially founded on 15th November 2006. The main purpose of the Foundation was to establish a self-reliant home for the children of some of the survivor families and those who lost their families. There are now 26 children and 6 adult teachers and staff under the Foundation here. Everybody at Home&Life is trying hard to build a home for the children on the rented 1 Rai land. During the daytime the children go to school and after school everybody gathers together to learn entrepreneurial skills, life lessons and participate in normal family activities to help build a solid and stable foundation for the children.

Since it started, Home & Life has gradually raised the necessary funds to keep building and improving the orphanage. The foundation has been able to increase the number of children it can support and look after. The most significant stages of its growth over the last few years have been raising funds to finance construction and maintenance projects and the development of income generated projects such as the bakery and organic gardens. The foundation receives no government funding and relies entirely on private donations. At present there are 26 children and 6 adult teachers who live at Home & Life. There is also an ongoing volunteer programme where volunteers from all over the world come and stay for various lengths of time, helping in specific projects and the day to day running of the home.

It has always been Home & Life's idea and intention to provide a family home full of love and learning for the children at Home & Life. When the foundation began we wanted to offer security and an understanding for the children that were coming here and somewhere that the children could feel part of a family. The adult staffs are treated as older family members by the children. The children are given the responsibility to help with jobs around the foundation and are responsible for keeping their rooms clean and tidy, just as they would if they lived with their parents. They are also taught valuable life lessons such as helping other people, looking after and caring for each other and working hard.

Every child goes to school and Home & Life pays for their school uniforms, books and stationery. The children also have extra English lessons each week with the Teacher Volunteer Centre and are supported if they have other interests such as singing, swimming or boxing. When they grow up and finally leave Home & Life, everyone involved wants them to be able to live successful lives and be valuable members of their communities.

"We are Thai. We have to teach our children the charm and personality of the Thai heart," says Bhudit 'Root' Maneejak, the home's founder. "We help them in the simple practice of the Thai family where the parents are the children's first teachers."

Beyond their everyday traditions and culture, the children are also taught about other religions and cultures. Regional variations are explained when teaching traditional dance and meal preparation. "We have to be sensitive to the cultural variations among our children: some are Muslim, for example, and nearly 40% are Moken Chao Lay, or sea people," says Root. "They have a very different culture, which is based on a life of living mostly at sea. Some now live in land communities and even the jungle. "We have to teach them the Moken values, as well as helping them fit into Thai ways, to make their future lives as successful as possible."

Every child is unique and wonderful - and each needs nurturing in body, mind and spirit. Teaching their cultures and traditions is one way Home & Life does this.

A Message from Manager, Root:

"Home&Life Sawasdee krap” Month by month there is a struggle for food and operating costs. Together with our self-generated income from the Home&Life Coffee Bakery shop, Crafts, etc.

We are trying and hoping to succeed, however are still very far from covering the costs for all expenses; education, food, fuel, medicine, communication, school transportation, pocket money for students, etc. These are the most important targets for the 25 growing children at Home&Life. Eventually it will not be possible without your help.

Please support by donating directly to "Home&Life Phang Nga” foundation's saving account.

Details of Bank account: Siam Commercial Bank, Khok Kloy Branch, Thailand 
Name: Home&Life Phang Nga Foundation (มูลนิธิบ้านเพื่อชีวิต พังงา ) 
Saving Account: 788 -217-213-0 
SWIFTcode: SICOTHBK ntact-en.html
You can be assured that every single baht you donate will directly support the Home&Life children without any administration fees.

We hope to meet you soon!

Words cannot begin to express the place in my heart held by these children.  I love them as if they are members of my own family.  I'm so thankful for Facebook so that I keep up with their lives.  If you'd like to learn more about Home & Life, please click here, or feel free to ask me!