Valerie adopted the beautiful Ava Paige. While she is thriving under Valerie’s care, as many of you know, she has severe allergies. This means she requires a special formula for her little tummy to ensure that she grows and thrives. If you can help by purchasing a can, either on Amazon or the U.S. Walmart site, we can help Ava fight for her future. Ship it for free on Amazon Prime and direct it to:
c/o Valerie Nelson
3740 W 104TH ST UNIT 1
HIALEAH, FL 33018-1227
Students Return to Charmont
The past two months have been exciting, with school starting for all the kiddos! We have a great set of teachers this year, some old, some new. Thanks to Debbie and Wayne Smith (from Calgary), who came with supplies, organized our kitchen, fixed and re-programmed our computers and bought breakfast for two whole weeks! Meanwhile, Cheryl Ross and Tommy (from Ontario) painted the classrooms and then took it upon themselves to redo our upstairs sink tap and then the playground. They completely repaired the playground, reattaching all the swings and made a new platform. We also got lots of new supplies and books from various donors, as well as some awesome back-to-school boxes thanks to Cheyenne Bronson and Morgan‘s church. Jodi Fast also came down for her third visit to see Jimaya. (We’ll have more on her trip featured in the next newsletter.) We are grateful for all of our donors and volunteers, there are no words to express what a difference you make.
Breakfast/Lunch Program Needs Your Help
Feeding these beautiful children each day is one of our most important objectives. Sadly, on Mondays, some of them haven’t eaten since their school meals on Friday, which breaks our hearts.
The meals we proudly serve are healthy and mostly vegetarian. For breakfast the kids eat cereal, milk, oatmeal and fruit, except on Fridays when they get peanut butter and whole wheat bread and fruit. Lunch is often vegetable soup, pasta, rice and beans, baleadas, and then whatever we get through donations.
To keep this amazing program going, we need $150/week U.S. We realize this is a lot to ask. Perhaps you have a group that would like to each put in $10/week – but whatever you can give, we (and the kids) will be deeply grateful for.
Funds can be sent to Valerie via PayPal or bank transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Searching For a Sponsor
Look at those adorably pudgy cheeks and that mischievous twinkle in his eye! Will anyone sponsor sweet Chris? If you are at your sponsoring limit, we get it, but please share with friends and family. Putting the word out really helps! Chris is the only child not sponsored. Student sponsorships are $75 CDN or $65 USD per month. You can set up monthly payments here.
Diva's BBQ Fundraiser - Thank you!
This little cutie, Diva, has been fighting GI disease and severe allergies and has been in critical condition several times. She spends way too much time in the hospital. To raise money to send her to the specialist on the mainland, Diva’s mom is hosting a BBQ this coming Thursday. Sponsors immediately jumped into action to buy plates of delicious chicken, rice and beans and potato salad for their kids to help fund-raise. What’s more, the fabulous Linda Vanasse was kind enough to send extra support directly to Diva’s mom. We want to thank everyone for chipping in!
We are thrilled to announce that our website has a beautiful new look. We feel this new site effectively tells the story of our focus, who Morgan Jayne was, and how her father – along with a group of passionate volunteers (you!) – are changing the lives of children and families living on Roatan in her name. Big thanks to Rana at Keen Designs. Please take a moment to check it out.
We were thrilled to welcome the wonderful Laurelei Braun McCarty to Roatan! Laurelei arrived via The Rock Boat (which looks super fun, by the way), and had collected a ton of supplies as well as $600 cash from her “Rock Boat Family” to bring to Valerie. The donations brought on-board by The Rock Boat Family were outstanding and it took six people to carry them off the ship!
We had the opportunity to sit down with Laurelei (virtually of course) to discuss her amazing adventure in Roatan.
TMJCF: Tell us about how you got to Roatan. Was it on a cruise?
Laurelei: I annually go to a music festival on a boat. We usually correct people who call it a cruise, lol. A cruise is about relaxing, eating and lounge chairs. This festival is about 32 bands and about 2800 people, most of them I have met. It is a huge family reunion and there is no time to rest.
TMJCF: How did you hear about TMJCF? What prompted you to donate and visit?
Laurelei: My exposure to the organization was through Fred and Kathy Mackowecki. As soon as I heard that my festival was making a stop at Roatan I knew I wanted to organize my music family to donate.
TMJCF: Describe your day with Val. What stuck out to you most?
Laurelei: My day was amazing; I wish we had been there longer. I was overwhelmed by the chaos as I attempted to find Val as we navigated through the many people trying to get our attention to sell their services to me and my group. I was elated to see a sign with my name on it and then to be taken to where Val was sitting. My music family loaded her vehicle and off they went with their own plans. I was also thrilled to have money to give her.
First, we went over to the school. I saw the school and learned of its beginnings, and I was shocked to hear that prior to Val opening her school, her own kids were learning at a school where teachers could not read!
I love what Val enforces at her school: No bullying, no hitting and starting the day with a half hour of yoga or meditation – a lesson that could be well taught around the globe. Val is no nonsense, passionate and concerned and it breaks my heart that she has a waiting list of children to attend the school.
We then went to a grocery store where I followed instructions and put in my cart what Val put in hers. I didn’t actually know what we were doing at the time, I was fumbling trying to keep up with her. Buying groceries was an experience but delivering them was the greatest eye opener and gift. Such graciousness and appreciation from the families whose homes we went to. I was honored to be welcomed in. I did not always take a picture inside because I just couldn’t bring myself to pretend I was not affected by what I saw and I respected the pride I saw in the families. One particular Grandmother, Linda, just amazed me. The obstacle course she had to go through to get inside her own home left me without words.
Driving through Roatan, Val abruptly stopped the vehicle and just got out. Her door was wide open, there were cars behind us but no one even honked. She had seen two children she knew and wanted to drive them home. It seemed to me to be a long drive and these kids were about six and seven years old.
After delivering food to four families that would feed them for a week, we set out to buy watermelons. Driving around the swamp, I learned about the brothel, drug ships, the addiction problems, the families that are HIV+….so much that just seemed surreal to me and my privileged life. I also learned about the changes and improvements that are happening. There were 21 babies buried the first year Val lived there and now there is 0% transmission of HIV from mother to baby. That is amazing! It was so heartwarming to hear so many people greet “Miss Val” and the children who were eager for school to start up. Respect for Val is noticeable.
We drove around handing out watermelons to mothers. I had so much fun doing that. The kids, were so excited. I had to work at reminding myself where I was and to alter my way of thinking. When Val was telling me about a woman who struggles to find work because when people discover she is positive they wont hire her. I thought to myself “because she has a good attitude its hard to find a job?” Then I realized she wasn’t talking about the woman’s attitude.
TMJCF: Do you recommend visiting to other TMJCF followers, and if so, do you have any suggestions on how to plan a trip? (Perhaps once the Coronavirus panic has settled!)
Laurelei: I would absolutely recommend visiting. Reaching out to people like Val for a tour and knowledge of where to go and what to do is a huge positive. It is helpful to research where you want to be of assistance. Like anywhere, there are good areas and bad. Be aware of your surroundings. Be prepared with water for yourself.
TMJCF: Do you think you’ll go back to visit again? Anything you’d like to plan for a future visit?
Laurelei: If my music family returns there again I will plan to work even harder at awareness and collecting donations and money. I want more time to spread some love and humanity and I will bring people along.
TMJCF: Final Thoughts?
Laurelei: It was an amazing experience. You can hear about the organization and this place… you can hear about the needs and the positive work being done there. However, once your five senses can experience the Roatan it never leaves your mind or your heart. I came home affected and wanting to do more. When she dropped me off and hugged me goodbye she told me, “Know that you did more today than deliver food. You reminded people that there is still humanity in the world.”
We want to take a moment to thank you all – friends, family, sponsors, volunteers – everyone who has donated just once, or continues to support us throughout the years… we are now on our seventh year of 0% mother-to-infant transmission rate. We couldn’t save lives without you.