Teen Trip Inspires Gratitude
Kira Welcenbach, one of eight students from Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee, WI, spent two weeks at the Center over Easter. Here she shares a reflection on her experience...
My two-week journey to the Working Boys' Center – A Family of Families has truly changed my life. As a Catholic, I've always been incredibly dedicated to service and it's my passion in life. This trip has strengthened my faith in God and my desire to help serve those around the world facing injustices like poverty and oppression. Because I got to experience and to see the poverty the people of Ecuador face firsthand, I've become ever more devoted and determined to do service to help improve the standard of living and quality of life for people across the world. It has also taught me a lesson on being grateful and appreciative of the numerous blessings in my life like my education, family, having my own bed and dinner every night, and a car to get me places.
Over the course of the trip, we spent a lot of time in classrooms at the Center, playing with the kids and talking with some of the parents. We participated in two little "mingas" over the course of the trip since we were not able to do actual mingas because we stayed at the Center over Easter break. For these mini mingas, we painted the ceiling of a classroom and sorted through a ton of cards in the warehouse. While this sort of work was nothing compared to building a house or a roof, it was still special and important because, as volunteers, we knew that we were doing the work that was most valuable to the Center at the time. By meeting the immediate needs of the people and place we were serving, we were doing the best service we could for the Center.
My favorite part of the trip came down to a tie between house visits and interacting with the kids. When I went to shadow one of the yearlong volunteers, we went up a mountain in the far south of the city to do house visits. It was such a different experience taking public transportation and only being able to speak Spanish if I wanted to interact with someone. We saw houses of some of the Center members. It was an experience I'll never forget! Seeing where the members live and how far they travel just to get to the Center to receive healthy meals and an education is unreal. Most houses didn't have electricity for cooking or plumbing and there could be up to five people sleeping in one bed. However, despite their poor living conditions, the people were so welcoming, happy, and grateful. This experience was the perfect exhibit of how material possessions don't ensure happiness, for these people had little to nothing, yet were filled with faith, life, and joy.
Playing with the kids also impacted me in a special way. They were so open with their love for everyone that they would just run up to you and jump on you or give you a hug. We played soccer, volleyball, played on the playground and swung them around until we got dizzy. A few other volunteers and I brought things along for the kids like stickers, glow sticks, candy and chalk – the kids absolutely loved these little gifts. It was so different to see how our interaction and insignificant items made them so happy. They were also incredibly grateful for our attention. The people in Ecuador have set a great precedent for me: I need to be grateful for what and who I have in my life, for that is the key to having faith and happiness in life.
Minga Madness Scores Big
Jim Parks, WBC volunteer from 1985-1986, has been leading groups of volunteers to the WBC to construct roof structures for the past 8 years. He reflects on his recent minga...
The 2013 Minga was a great experience! Our group included ten people comprised of two father/son combinations, a husband and wife and four men. The dynamics of these personal relationships within the group made the trip even more enjoyable. At ten people, this minga represented the largest group I had ever chaperoned in the last 8 years. Typically, we have 6 or 7 people on the trip, which makes for a good-sized crew.
Since my fundraising for the purchase of minga materials exceeded my target by a factor of two (I had a fundraising goal of $7,500 but I raised $15,000 - thank you to all who generously contributed!), we had sufficient funds to purchase materials to complete the roof structures on two homes. And with ten eager volunteers, I wanted to be sure that there was enough work to keep everyone engaged and motivated. So, I took the leap of faith and informed those in charge of the minga program at the WBC that we were prepared to construct two roofs on our visit.
The process for selecting the family (or in the case of this year, families) who receives the benefit of the minga labor and materials is fairly straightforward. The family must be a member family of the WBC, who is actively living the ten core values of the WBC which are: Loyalty, Work, Personal Formation, Family, Religion, Education, Health, Recreation, Economy and Housing.
Also, the family must have their home constructed to a point that it is ready to receive the roof structure. The roof structure is constructed of a combination of reinforced steel, lightweight block and concrete. If a family satisfies all of these criteria, their name is entered into a lottery of names selected by the WBC from a hat. This year, the winning families were the Taipe family and the Toapanta family.
The Taipe family joined the WBC about 9 years ago when the mother, Narcisa visited the WBC to learn more about the WBC programs. At the time, Narcisa and her husband Miguel were separated, but after working with the leaders at WBC they worked through their problems and have been living together as a family ever since. Miguel and Narcisa will live in their new home located in the barrio of San Pedro de Monjas, with their four children, Luis (19), Gabriela (17), Sabrina (13 and Jenny (13). Their son Luis recently graduated from the WBC metal mechanics program and likely will be moving out on his own very soon.
The Toapanta family joined the WBC about 7 years ago. Guaras Toapanta is a single mother raising her 3 children, Christian (13), Mateo (9) and Estiven (7). She wandered into the WBC out of curiosity and quickly recognized the benefits she could receive for her family. The Toapanta family home is located in the barrio of Rancho Alto on the north end of Quito.
Of course, no leap of faith is without its challenges. The two winning families lived on opposite ends of the city which meant it would be impossible for me as the chaperone to be at both jobsites each day. Fortunately, one of the other volunteers, Tom Shepherd, spoke enough Spanish that he offered to be the translator at one of the sites while I worked at the other site. Afortunadamente, Tom puede hablar muy bien espanol! (Translation: Fortunately, Tom can speak Spanish very well!). Tom, thanks for stepping outside your comfort zone and leading one of the crews.
In spite of the geographic separation of the two sites, we successfully achieved our mission of constructing the roof structure for both houses. I sincerely appreciate the generosity of those who donated to the minga fund and to the nine people who gave a week of their time to travel with me to Ecuador on this trip.
Members of the minga team shared their reaction to the experience...
"I had previously done another challenging service trip and this Minga trip was amazing. We felt secure, comfortable, well fed, and part of the WBC family. The timing was perfect, the accommodations exceeded our expectations, and the entire WBC family was welcoming." - Tom Shepherd
"I highly recommend the Minga experience. Not only do you get a sense of accomplishment, but you also get to connect with and positively impact members and their families. Everything was great from the food thru the sightseeing. Ecuador is a beautiful country filled with friendly and hard working people. I enjoyed getting to know the history of the WBC, the leadership and volunteers who sacrifice so much, and helping the member families on this trip!" - Marck Simson
"This was my first introduction to South America and a service trip like this. Certainly I was moved by the poverty that permeates Quito. But I was also so impressed with the work of Fr. Halligan and Madre Miguel…to listen to them, on how the WBC prepares families to work in their world and add value to their respective families." - John Mueller
"There was a discomfort initially - being so dramatically different from what we were used to but you quickly realized that these people are happy and healthy. The people are very appreciative and kind." - Chris Choren
"When we were at the WBC everyone thanked me for volunteering and for the hardwork our group was doing. I really feel like I should be the one saying thank you. Thank you for the opportunity, the amazing hospitality, for letting me be a part of your family for a week, for opening my mind and heart to things I had never experienced, for introducing me to wonderful people, for the childrens' smiles, for the hardworking team that helped me be a construction worker for a week, for the laughs, and love. I truly enjoyed myself! THANK YOU!!" - Holly Shepherd
St. Peter's Prep Students Give Back
Maura Toomb, Director of Campus Ministry at St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, NJ shares the story of the strong bond between St. Peter's Prep and the WBC.
In the summer of 2009, Saint Peter's Prep began working with the Working Boys Center - A Family of Families. We began sending groups of students on immersion trips, and since then, more than 45 Prep students have had the eye-opening and life-giving experience of working with the community at the WBC. Many of these students have reported that their time at the WBC has changed their lives, and made them realize their own blessings and happiness.
However, we wanted to do more than just send volunteers to the WBC each summer. Our volunteers gain so much from their experiences with the people of the WBC, and we wanted to just begin to repay them for that. So, along with sending volunteers each summer, we make a donation to the WBC from our annual Mission Drive.
At Saint Peter's Prep, the Mission Drive is a fundraiser that runs throughout Lent and Easter Week. Our students raise money through games, dress down days, bake sales, etc, etc. It is a chance for our students to band together and have some fun doing something on behalf of others.
Last year, we decided that we didn't want to just raise money during the Mission Drive, but we wanted to strengthen the ties that we have with each of the agencies we raise for. Along with the Working Boys Center, we also raise money each year for Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, CA and the Jesuit Volunteer agencies in Bethel, AK. With this goal of strengthening relationships in mind, we attached each of our class years to one of our Mission Drive beneficiaries. Right now, our sophomores work with the Working Boys Center, while our juniors work with Bethel, and our freshmen and seniors work with Homeboy Industries.
Students know now that all of the money that they raise will go directly to their assigned Mission Drive site. An agency will follow a class through their four years, and students from the assigned class have the opportunity to travel to the site each summer. The idea is that after four years, up to 40 students in a grade can have a shared experience, and the whole grade can raise close to $20,000 for an agency in their four years at Prep. This is our goal for the Working Boys Center.
This year, we've really tried to make the WBC (and our other Mission Drive sites) present in the everyday life of the school. On Fat Tuesday, the day before our Mission Drive began, the students who traveled to the sites this summer gave presentations to their classmates about what they experienced over the summer, so that their. We hosted a Christian Service Fair to encourage students to apply for the summer immersion trips. And, most importantly, we've profiled members of the WBC community and put their faces and stories in the sophomore homeroom classes. There is a picture and a brief description of someone served by our Mission Drive funds outside each homeroom classroom this year. One cannot walk down the halls here at Prep without seeing the smile of a child from the WBC. While the sophomores know that the money they raise doesn't go directly to the person profiled in their homeroom, the profiles give them an idea of who the people at the Working Boys Center are. By introducing them to children like Camila, Eduardo, and Josselin, we are hoping to build a strong connection between our community and yours.
Personally, seeing the faces of "los ninos" as I walk the halls at Prep has reminded me of the spirit and joy found at the Working Boys Center each day. I hope that if my boys can sense even just an ounce of that through the pictures and brief stories, they will be inspired to give, and to support the important work that is done at the WBC each day.
"To me, the WBC - A Family of Families means integrity, hard work, determination, accomplishments, and a great environment which fosters the genuine spirit of the young boys and girls who are making new lives for themselves in Ecuador" ~Ian Michelin '15
Hospitality in the Center of the World
By Joe Stella, second year WBC volunteer
In November, I ventured to the south of Quito to spend the afternoon with my friend Teresa and her family. Teresa invited me to participate in the local tradition of drinking colada morada and eating guaguas de pan on November 2nd- All Souls' Day. To make Colada Morada, you mix fruits such as blackberries, strawberries, pineapples and babaco along with a variety of herbs in a large vat containing hot water and flour. To make guaguas de pan, you decorate bread rolls with colored frosting so that they look like small children. While sharing in this traditional meal, Ecuadorians remember family and friends who have passed on.
To arrive at Teresa's house I walked through the historical center of Quito or the Old Town as it is known by tourists. Anyone visiting Quito for the first time should surely visit the Old Town. The Presidential Palace, La Plaza de San Francisco and the historic churches (e.g. La Compañía de Jesús, the birthplace of the WBC) are just a few sites that attract tourists.
Not far beyond the Presidential Palace, I walked through some of the most impoverished sections of the city. Maneuvering my way around a city jail, I ended up on a narrow path that lead to Teresa's house. The house, awkwardly built on a hill that overlooks the valley, has a view that rivals some of the best in the city.
As I entered Teresa's small living room I saw many familiar and friendly faces. Teresa and her husband invited at least four other families that belong to The Working Boys' Center - A Family of Families to their house that day to join us.
Overwhelmed with their generosity, I discretely asked, "¿Cómo puedo ayudarle?" (How can I help you?). Teresa told me to sit down and enjoy myself. For about an hour I played with the kids at the party. We ran through the backyard, tossed a plastic ball around, and took pictures of one another.
Before lunch, Teresa's husband, Don Espinoza, pulled me aside. After engaging me on the topics of God and family, he said something that I will never forget: he shared with me his belief that, as a child of God, he feels called to invite not the rich, well-to-do members of society to his house, but rather to invite those who are lonely, those who are struggling with addictions and, in my case, those who are separated (albeit temporarily) from their loved ones.
Looking around the living room I saw Patricio, a long-time friend of Don Espinoza, sitting on the couch. Patricio is a recovering alcoholic who is separated from his wife and kids. On the other side of the room, playing on the carpet, sat Alison. Alison joined the WBC with her mother and younger brother in August. She struggles to make it through every day without a father figure in her life. And then there was me. Don Espinoza said that he invited me because he knew that I left my family and friends behind in the United States. He wanted to make sure that I felt loved, valued and part of a community during my time in Quito.
I walked away from the Espinoza house that evening feeling enlightened. God is calling each of us not only to stand with the marginalized, but to embrace them as part of our own family. Let us pause and reflect on the ways in which we can be truly generous toward members of our own communities. In doing so, we pray:
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
Prayer for Generosity, St. Ignatius of Loyola
California Teens Fast in Support of WBC Families
The creativity of our very large stateside Family of Families never ends as they continue to dream up new ways to reach out and share the story of our WBC programs with others in their own communities. That again was the case when two WBC visitors organized a 24 fast at their local parish. Sheila Roohan, one of the organizers, reflects on their event..
Mary Van Dyke and I traveled to Quito, Ecuador in the spring of 2010. We were able to spend a week working with at The Working Boys' Center – A Family of Families and were inspired to continue our service upon returning home to Pasadena, California. On our trip, we were able to participate in a minga (a local term used to describe a group coming together to build someone's home), teach an English class, and work closely with the children of the WBC.
Once we returned to Pasadena, Mary and I began to work closely with the life teen ministers in our own parish, Saint Philip the Apostle. We planned a 24 Hour Food Fast for the teenagers in our parish. The teenagers were sponsored by friends and family and arrived on December 7thto begin the fast. In the end, the fast raised a total of $1,000 for the WBC Family of Families!
Throughout the fast, Mary and I gave witness talks in which we reflected back upon our service at the WBC. We shared personal stories and described the relationships we formed throughout our mission trip. We described the lessons we learned based upon the people we met and the poverty we were exposed to. The rest of the fast consisted of witness talks from other members of the parish who had gone on their own mission and immersion trips. The teens participated in a variety of activities including a poverty walk and a walk for water. Both activities helped the group to understand that poverty surrounds them all, and through their good works, they can change lives. During the fast everyone was given an opportunity to express themselves through a myriad of activities and it was a very powerful experience.
At the end of the fast, there was a group reflection. The teenagers spoke about the value of time and how the more time and energy put in to a good cause, greater the outcome. They also discussed the impact they were able to have on their community, and cities around the world, if they dedicated themselves to service. Overall, the fast was a phenomenal success. It not only raised money for the WBC family, but it also helped the teenagers of the community to understand the severity of poverty and how they can help.
California Parish Extends Its Faith, Hope and Love to our WBC Family of Families
Who would ever have guessed it five years ago? A parish trip to serve at the WBC would become the catalyst for a long term, long distance relationship of faith, hope and love...
We are extremely grateful for the countless hours and generous financial support which has flowed from St. Mary the Immaculate Conception parish in Los Gatos, CA as a result of them opening their hearts to service of others who are less fortunate. Carol Braham, St. Mary's parishioner, shares their story in the hopes that other individuals and parishes will become inspired to help our WBC Family of Families to continue to move Quito's poor from poverty to prosperity.
By Carol Braham
St. Mary's Church in Los Gatos, California, just celebrated the 5th Anniversary of its partnership with the Working Boys'Center – A Family of Families. In 2008, several members of St. Mary's Church participated in an immersion experience at the WBC lead by Sr. Elizabeth Avalos, BVM. From this experience, the idea to form a partnership with the Center was born which developed into a new ministry at the parish, "Partners in Mission in Ecuador." The goal of this ministry is to join the people of St. Mary's Church and the Working Boys' Center Family of Families in prayer, solidarity, advocacy, mutuality and faith development.
In order to achieve this goal, an annual event, the Ecuadorian Soup Supper, was initiated. On a weekend in early November each year, St. Mary's sponsors a soup supper in which volunteers throughout the parish work together to provide a wonderful community event for all its members. Authentic Ecuadorian soup with delicious bread and Ecuadorian cookies make up the simple meal for close to 240 people. Crafts, which have been purchased by returning immersion participants, are sold after all the weekend masses as well as at the supper. Traditionally, a short presentation is given, which includes some information about what is happening at the WBC as well as personal sharing from those who have visited. To help celebrate the five-year anniversary, Madre Cindy was able to attend this year. Having visited St. Mary's in previous years, the parish has developed a special bond with Madre Cindy and was thrilled to have here in person to strengthen our connection with the people of Quito. While the meal is always free, as it is a community-building event, there is a call for donations to help out our friends in Ecuador. Between sales and donations over the past 5 years, St. Mary's has contributed over $80,000 to benefit the families of the WBC!
Along with the annual Soup Supper, special connections with the youth of St. Mary's and the Center have been established. Madre Cindy has spoken to the kids at the parish school and continues to nurture a pen-pal relationship with them. Likewise, the school kids have collected donations for the Center and participated in the Soup Supper. In addition, the high school youth group has raised funds for the WBC through an annual "Party for Poverty"Dance-a-thon. The partnership between the parish and the Working Boys' Center families truly reaches across all groups and generations. What started out as a single transformational experience for a few parishioners at St. Mary's Church has grown into something that continues to touch many families both in Quito, Ecuador, as well as Los Gatos, California!
If any churches and/or groups are interested in starting their own partnership with the WBC – A Family of Families through a similar model, please feel free to contact Carol Braham from St. Mary's Parish at email@example.com.
Reflections on Training of New Volunteer Group
Our WBC volunteers are given a great gift of time and talent by former teachers from the USA who share their lifetime of experience in the classroom. After weeks of working with our volunteers, they reflect on the group in the article below. We are forever grateful for their willingness to serve in this vital way.
By John and Corry Cochol
The ten new volunteers are just as impressive as the group from last year. They are bright, energetic and looking forward to making a difference. They have been eager, willing to learn and take direction with a strong committment to making the year work. They have easily adapted to life at the WBC and are already getting attached to kids and their families.
The returning five volunteers are just as spectacular as they were throughout last year. They have been very welcoming to the "new kids on the block" taking them under their wing in school and social settings. They have been extra helpful in lesson planning, especially in English, P.E. and Art.
Our greatest challenge each year is to prepare the volunteers for the start of the school year. Unless a volunteer is a trained educator they have no experience of the rigors of teaching and on top of this inexperience to deliver lessons in Spanish. Our goal is to give a comprehensive practical training in a short period of time.
We feel we were more prepared this year as we had experienced the opening of school and the myriad of challenges faced by the volunteers. We streamlined some of our material and added more teaching demonstration, role playing and practical center based ideas for individual/ classroom management and incentive programs. There was a heavy emphasis on teaching and practicing daily routines for getting to/from class, entering classrooms and expectations for lessons. We used an equivalent of four full days of training plus time for lesson planning and setting up classrooms.
Corry demonstrated and modeled testing protocol for determining reading and math levels and remedial instruction for special education students. We also added to the individual learning plans/programs for two special education students we were involved with last year.
Once school begins we are in the various classrooms observing, giving feedback and additional instruction to volunteers when necessary.
We feel very confident that this new group of volunteers, along with the second year volunteers, will do well. They learned and grasped a lot of material, strategies and ideas in a short amount of time and put them into practice right from the start.
Our suggestion for other retired educators who may want to volunteer time and talent at WBC would be to visit, observe, interact and get a feel for the WBC and school. Then let God lead how you can share your gifts. We would be happy to talk to anyone interested.
Please contact Patricia Jessup if you would like to connect with John and Corry and she can put you in touch with them.
Former Physical Education Teacher Shares His Expertise with Young WBC Volunteers
For the second year, Doug Cramer traveled to the WBC to work one-on-one with our incoming yearlong volunteers, providing expertise in the areas of sports and physical education. He, along with John and Corry Cochol, who are also former teachers, provide invaluable guidance to our new volunteers, jump starting their school year on the right foot.
Doug learned about the WBC through his local parish, St. Mary's of the St. Benedict Roman Catholic Parish in Canandaigua, NY. Back in 2010, Doug visited the WBC for the first time with a group of parishioners and found himself shadowing a young volunteer who was teaching physical education. He had told himself that he was going to keep his mouth shut and merely observe. However, his natural instincts took over and Doug found himself offering recommendations to the volunteer. His guidance was well received. A new volunteer opportunity was born! Doug, along with John and Corry, assist new volunteers as they transition into their roles as WBC teachers.
Initially, Doug observes the volunteer interacting with his or her students from afar so as not to be a distraction. From that observation, Doug is able to provide encouragement and suggestions on improvement. He then demonstrates the recommended refinements to the volunteer with the students. Once those corrections are passed along, he again observes from a distant vantage point to confirm the correct end result.
A curriculum guide mapping out the entire school year with coordinating lesson plans and support activities was created by Doug for use by the volunteers. In addition, there is detailed information about the length of time that should be spent on each activity and how to break it down in order to make it to the end goal. This reference booklet is theirs to manipulate as they see fit. What a treasure this guide is to our volunteers!
Doug, a 1964 graduate of Canandaigua Academy in Canandaigua, NY, a 1968 graduate of Peru State College in Peru, NE and a 43 year volunteer with New York Special Olympics, has also encouraged volunteers to use certain techniques to maintain control inside the classroom and out on the playing field or recreation area. Doug seizes opportunities as they arise during class time to demonstrate. Methods of discipline from a seasoned teacher are gems to our volunteers.
The passing down of skills from last year's volunteer group to this year's new group impresses Doug. "The returning volunteers have done a fantastic job of ensuring those skills are transferred to the new volunteers. I was able to accomplish my purpose in only a few days this year as opposed to two weeks on my original training visit. That is a testament to the transfer of knowledge taking place within this Family of Families."
We are incredibly grateful to Doug, John and Corry for their selfless giving of their time and talent to our young volunteers. They have become an invaluable component of our initiation and training. If you are a retired teacher and you would like to help us in any way, please contact Patricia Jessup to discuss opportunities we have for you.
Mike and Maggie - An Incredibly Inspiring Couple
Story written by Maggie Felker
The story of our involvement with the Working Boys' Center, and of our creation of a fund to help outstanding WBC graduates attend university, begins with our son David's disappearance in southern Ecuador ten years ago.
In the Fall of 2002, I worked with a detective and Ecuadorean police in an extensive search, but without results. However, so many Ecuadorean people were so good to me, and the natural beauty which I witnessed was so striking, that I wanted my husband Mike and our daughter Rachel to come see the places and meet the people of my search. So, in the summer of 2003, we planned a family journey—and this is where the Centro came in. I had the strong conviction that we would not be "typical tourists" and did not want us to stay in a hotel, so I consulted with my former Edgewood High School Spanish teacher, Sr. Rosemary Huddleston, regarding somewhere to stay in Quito en route to the south. She recommended the Working Boys' Center.
Madre Miguel and Padre Juan readily assented to host us. Although at that time we had not "signed on" for a CMT tour, they provided one nonetheless, and even in the somewhat foggy state of our grief, we could not help but be impressed with all the Centro provided for so many families. And, it was during a Mass at Centro Número Uno in La Marín—specifically when a swarm of little children cheerfully approached us with their handshakes of peace—that a seed was planted in Mike's heart to come and volunteer at the Center. That seed of inspiration has carried us along now for nine years!
Our first attempt at being yearlong volunteers in 2004 ended prematurely when I had health problems that November. We returned to Madison, and I found work as a bilingual nurse in a local clinic. But Mike kept getting "called back", and when our daughter finished her degree at Edgewood College, Mike and I returned to serve as volunteers from 2007 to 2010, with Mike teaching colegio (middle school) math while I taught elementary school health, and both of us teaching a charming little girls' English class and many adult classes.
When we learned that Rachel would be returning to live in Madison—after one year volunteering in the Marshall Islands and one year doing graduate work in Boston—my "mother's heart" told me that I needed to return to live in Madison, too. So, in the summer of 2010, we moved back to re-inhabit our house and I accepted a job as a school nurse with the Madison public schools.
However, as clear as my call was to return to Madison, even clearer was Mike's commitment to keep returning to the Centro and to continue his work vigorously to support a few outstanding Centro graduates' struggles to pursue their careers in the Ecuadorean university system. So, over the last two years, we have developed a lively and engaging "commuter marriage." Mike divides his time between the Centro and Madison, coming and going in two-month stints. When he is in Quito, we share long phone conversations about Centro happenings, our shared dear friends, and now, our six special students who are furthering their education through our fledgling non-profit, "David's Educational Opportunity Fund." And, taking advantage of the "perks" of school nursing, I visit Quito and my Centro family every summer and even over some Christmas holidays.
This year has given us two more gifts, in addition to all we have been given: in April, one of our "Quito daughters" gave birth to a son named Jonathan David, and on July 12th, Rachel gave birth to our grandson, Julian David.
Our lives continue to be gratefully entwined with the life and work of the Centro. We are so thankful that, through the Centro, our family has expanded and expanded, lending ever-developing meaning to our son David's life and disappearance.
Couple's passion for WBC inspires donations for camino
Greg and Ruth Herrle feel a strong connection to both The Working Boys' Center and St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Greg originally traveled to the WBC back in 2003 on a service trip with a group of juniors from Marquette University High School, a Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, WI. That first exposure to the WBC (founded by Jesuit priest John Halligan) and its member families impacted Greg profoundly.
Years passed and Greg found himself participating in the campus ministry programs while a student at Boston College, another Jesuit institution, where fate would introduce him to his future spouse, Ruth. The two of them shared a passion for their faith, international travel and adventure.
Subsequently, Greg felt called to return to Ecuador in 2006 during his study abroad program at Boston College. He lived with a host family and volunteered part time at the WBC while attending classes. Again, his attachment to the WBC and its member families intensified.
In 2009, Greg and Ruth married and Greg's Ecuadorian host family were among the guests in attendance. Later, the couple traveled to Quito so that Ruth could finally see, in person, the beautiful country and the mission that Greg had so much enthusiasm for. Ruth was also impressed and touched by the WBC member families and finally understood firsthand what Greg had been trying to describe for so long.
Similar to their camino route, God's hand came into play in the next indirect leg of their marital journey. Ruth serves as Director of College Advising at Divine Savior Holy Angels in Milwaukee, WI, one of many high schools which hosts service trips to the WBC each year. This past fall, the DSHA trip coordinators were looking for faculty chaperones and Ruth stepped forward. She also made what seemed, at the time, an odd request – would it be alright if her husband, Greg, came along? The coordinators were unsure of how to handle this request as no one had ever asked to bring a non-employee on the service trip. However, once Ruth explained the lengthy history of Greg's connection to the WBC, they gladly welcomed him as an extra chaperone.
In June, the all-female student group from DSHA traveled to the WBC with Ruth, Greg, and two other female chaperones. The entire group agreed that their experience was fantastic and inspirational. All were grateful to have Greg along on the trip especially because his zeal for the WBC was so evident.
Greg and Ruth do not know how to relax and take advantage of work perks allowing them to have nearly the entire summer free. Oh no! Upon returning from the WBC service trip, they headed, almost immediately, into their adventure on the Camino Ignaciano in Spain. They wanted to combine their two passions and use the camino as a way to raise funds for the cause they love so much – the WBC. Please check out their blog to learn more about their adventure which has had many ups and downs already. We hope you feel called to make a donation to the WBC in their honor and, please, say a prayer for their safe return!
WBC volunteers wed and give back to their WBC family
As former volunteer Keely Schallock left Minnesota for her yearlong volunteer stint at the Working Boys' Center in 2007, her mom must have had an inkling. While she was excited for her daughter's impending adventure, she was worried that Keely might meet a boy and end up staying in Ecuador forever.
Keely did not have boys on her mind but instead focused on teaching the WBC children, getting to know the member families, learning Spanish, and embracing all that living abroad had to offer. But, as these things usually go, she did meet someone – a guy from much-closer-to-home North Dakota.
Into the picture walked Aaron Hendrickson. Aaron was ready for a change after three years of working long hours as an auditor in Chicago. He had heard about the WBC from friends of friends who are former volunteers, and thought it sounded like the perfect combination of adventure, service and a break from the grind of corporate America.
It was far from love at first site for these two, but over the course of their year at the Center, they bonded over salsa dancing, early morning runs, and co-teaching high school computer classes. They developed a lifelong friendship – Aaron found a girl who laughed at his jokes, and Keely genuinely appreciated his "ability to be interested in things most people don't find interesting."
They began dating as soon as they returned home, and, well, the rest is history. Keely and Aaron married in Minneapolis on April 21, 2012, complete with five fellow WBC volunteer friends in attendance, a Spanish hymn sung during their ceremony, a honeymoon stop in Ecuador, and wedding gifts directed to their Working Boys' Center donation registry - in honor of the people they love so dearly and the place where it all began.
The members of the WBC will be forever grateful to Keely and Aaron for their selfless commitment to their prosperity. You too can make a difference by establishing a registry for your wedding or other event. Please contact Patricia (Parks) Jessup for more information.
Hunger Games premier helps WBC families
Millions of American teens stayed up til midnight just to be able to attend the premier of The Hunger Games in late March. One lucky teen, Quinn Hynes, lived the ultimate fantasy by being cast as an extra in the mega-film. But Quinn added a twist to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by using it to help the poor in Ecuador.
Quinn, a junior at Gonzaga College High School, and his family decided to capitalize on this special experience by hosting a premier viewing of the film at a local theatre where moviegoers were asked to make donations to benefit The Working Boys' Center and the McKenna Center, a day homeless shelter on the grounds of Gonzaga. This desire to organize a fundraiser exemplifies one of the important aspects of life at his Jesuit high school where young men are encouraged to commit "to doing justice in generous service to the people of God."
A group of Gonzaga juniors, including Quinn, will travel to the WBC this June for a firsthand look at the life-changing work taking place in Ecuador. Their mission trip will be chaperoned by Vijay DaCosta and Elizabeth Lewis. According to Quinn's mother, Diane, Vijay and Elizabeth were instrumental in planting the seeds for a WBC fundraiser.
We are very grateful to Quinn and everyone who participated in this amazing fundraiser that amassed over $1,500 for our critical programs at the WBC. If you want to organize a creative fundraiser in your home town, please contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or click here.
A chance encounter unites two former WBC volunteers
Over a year ago, Father John Halligan celebrated his 80th birthday in Milwaukee, WI. The festivities brought together hundreds of Working Boys' Center supporters from across the country for a memory filled weekend.
However, for Matt Davis and Maggie Daly, two WBC volunteer alumni, the weekend marked the beginning of a cross-country relationship between New York City and Colorado Springs.
Only a few of months separated Matt and Maggie's WBC volunteer experiences. Matt, owner of Packaging Express, Inc. in Colorado Springs, volunteered at the WBC as a teacher in the elementary and technical school programs from 1998-99. A month after Matt finished, Maggie, currently a 5th grade teacher, began her stint teaching art and elementary education from 1999-2000.
Though they had met briefly at previous WBC functions, their reunion at Father Halligan's birthday party lit the spark in their relationship. This past Thanksgiving weekend, Matt and Maggie were married in Colorado Springs, CO.
To honor the organization that brought them together, Matt and Maggie created an alternative wedding gift registry that benefited the WBC. In lieu of traditional gifts, they asked friends and family to make a gift to the WBC in honor of their wedding and received a truly generous response.
If you have an upcoming birthday, anniversary or special occasion and are interested in creating a special gift registry to celebrate your special day, please contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.
Teaching the Teachers
For three retired school teachers, the end of this summer did not mark the traditional return to the classroom in the United States. Instead, they made a several thousand mile journey to Quito, Ecuador to share their decades of teaching experience with new volunteers at the Working Boys' Center.
John and Corry Cochol offered a teaching training workshop to new volunteers who are serving as instructors in the elementary, technical and adult education programs this year. Most volunteers do not have teaching degrees and value the on-the-job training that the Cochol's provided.
The idea for the workshop came during a visit to the Working Boys' Center with their daughter, Jessica, who served as a two-year WBC volunteer. During their visits and conversations with Jessica and other volunteers, they were made aware that there was a need for the volunteers, who are not teacher trained, to have some type of in depth teacher orientation before they begin their work at the WBC.
During their last visit with Jessica in January 2011, they observed classrooms and provided feedback to volunteers seeking their help. It was during that visit that the Cochol's felt called to volunteer their service and expertise. Recently retired in August of 2010, plans were made to return at the end of August to provide training during the volunteer orientation and classroom feedback for the first month that the volunteers are teaching.
"We feel that the Lord has called us to WBC through Jessica and the team there," said the Cochol's. "It is a way we can give back all the Lord has done for our family and the blessings Jessica received while volunteering at WBC."
The training introduced basic principles and effective practices of teaching. The Cochol's taught classroom management strategies and teaching techniques during two half-day and two full-day sessions. They also focused on how to teach English as a second language using a program that was purchased for the WBC a few years ago.
The last four weeks have been spent in the classrooms to problem solve beginning of school issues and helping the volunteers get their classes off to a good start.
"It seems to be going well," said John. "This is a great group of volunteers all bright, eager and quick learners."
Corry has taught Kindergarten through the community college level over the course of her 36-year teaching career with the last 20 years in the Canandaigua City School District in New York. She is a Reading Specialist and a teacher trainer.
John worked for the Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES in New York State for 34 years as a teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities and a Special Education Principal for the last 26 years.
John and Corry are joined in service with Doug Cramer who has written a complete physical education course for the volunteer teachers and is at the Working Boys' Center this September to implement the new curriculum.
A Marriage Built On Service To Others
When he first saw her curly red hair from the back of church, he knew she was the one for him.
50 years later, Jim and Pat Parks have 10 children and have logged hundreds of thousands of hours raising funds and friends for the Working Boys' Center (WBC.) Pat is the sister of WBC co-founder, Sister Miguel Conway BVM, and is President of Family Unity International, the U.S. fundraising arm for the Working Boys' Center.
This July, Jim and Pat celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends in Milwaukee, WI. In lieu of gifts, Jim and Pat asked guests to make a contribution to the Working Boys' Center. Much to their delight, their friends and family raised over $40,000 in support of the Ecuadorian mission.
If you are interested in learning more about creating a gift registry for a birthday, anniversary or special occasion that benefits the Working Boys' Center, let us help you celebrate your special day and help the Working Boys' Center. For more information on how to set up a gift registry, please contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.
Twin Cities Young Professionals Organize Benefit Concert
Over 200 people attended a benefit concert for the Working Boys' Center in Minneapolis, MN this past May. The concert featuring the well-known local bluegrass band, the Pistol Whippin Party Penguins, raised several thousand dollars for the WBC.
The concert was organized by many WBC volunteer alumni including planning committee members Keely Schallock, Annie Ittner, Aaron Hendrickson, Dan Philp, Abby Olson, and Katrina Kramer. Band members Ryan Schallock, Jake Manders, Matt Walvatne, Chris Pyle, and Pat Mavity donated their talents to the evening and ticket and t-shirt sales raised valuable funds for the WBC.
These young professionals are continuing their fundraising efforts this fall was another concert on Friday, September 30, 2011 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, MN. The event will feature music from Three Drink Minimum. View more details on the next Minnesota Music for the Mission concert.
Art Show benefits the WBC
St. Gabriel's Little Angels Preschool in McKinney, TX hosted its annual art show to benefit the Working Boys' Center. The event, held in conjunction with the Week of the Young Child, raised over $1,100 for the WBC.
The preschool teachers saved three pieces of each child's artwork made during the school year and they displayed the art by class in the cafeteria. Parents were invited to the annual art show and purchased their child's masterpieces for a donation to the WBC.
Little Angels Preschool Director, Debbie Santowski, displays items from her trip to the Working Boys' Center and plays Ecuadorian music to put everyone in the mood. In addition to educational programming on the WBC and missionary work, the preschool holds numerous fundraisers for the WBC each year including a classroom circus, coin collection drive, pizza and ice cream social night and special lunch day to name a few.
If you are a teacher, parent or student and would like to learn more about how a school or classroom can help the Working Boys' Center, please contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.
Sesame Street arrives at the Working Boys' Center
In February the Working Boys' Center received a donation of educational materials from the "Sesame Workshop," the creative force behind Sesame Street as well as a number of other educational shows and resources. Michael Lopez, uncle of current volunteer, Liam Carney, and Executive Director of the "National Center for Latino Child & Family Research," arranged the donation. As a part of his work, Mr. Lopez frequently serves on Advisory Committees for the "Sesame Workshop," particularly with regard to the increasing development of Spanish-language and Latino targeted materials.
Due to his recent involvement in a Sesame project and having learned about his nephew's current experience at the Working Boys' Center, Mr. Lopez was able and eager to coordinate the gift. The donation of about 50 pounds of workbooks and other useful materials were consequently lugged down from New York by Liam's parents when they visited him and the center over President's week. The donated resources will be swiftly put to use.
Two Canadian Rotary Clubs Show Support
Representatives from the Petawawa and Pembroke Rotary Clubs, Norm and Kay Edwards, recently visited the Working Boys' Center and presented an $8,000 check from the clubs.
While visiting the WBC with their granddaughter Meghan and her friend, the Edwards helped around the Center organizing the library, painting the education office, inventorying supplies, and filling shampoo bottles for the shower program.
More importantly, Norm shared his butter tart recipe with the bakery and they are now selling this famous Canadian national dessert to clients.
Marking 50th Wedding Anniversary
By remembering those in need
George and Sunny Golder's first encounter with the Working Boys' Center was on an organized tour of Ecuador in 2002. They were on their way to visit the Middle of the World monument when their tour bus stopped for lunch at the WBC's restaurant, Mi Olla Quitena.
What was supposed to be a 45 minute tour of the WBC facilities turned into a three hour experience that they will never forget.
They were so impressed by the students and the program philosophy. "I am a retired certified public accountant, so I was impressed by the low administrative overhead," said George. "We came away very impressed."
When it came time to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, instead of an elaborate party, they opted to support 10 organizations that touched their heart throughout their marriage. The Working Boys' Center was one of those beneficiaries.
The Colorado couple have four children and 13 grandchildren and have been supporters of the Working Boys' Center since their first visit nearly 10 years ago.
To learn more about alternative ways to help the Working Boys' Center, contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.
The Power of a 5-year-old
When five-year-old Sophia Parks began kindergarten this year at St. Mary's Visitation School in Elm Grove, WI, she had big plans. She wanted to master her alphabet, meet some new friends, and raise awareness of her mother's home country of Ecuador.
This Christmas Sophia engaged the support of her fellow kindergarden classmates by speaking about Ecuador and the Working Boys' Center. So inspired by the work, her class decided to collect coins this Christmas to support the WBC. They raised over $600 dollars for the preschool students at the WBC.
Sophia recently visited the Working Boys' Center and played with some of the students who benefitted from her and her classmates efforts.
To learn more about how your school or class could help support the Working Boys' Center, contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.
Ugly Sweaters Raise Funds for the WBC
Question: What do you get when you ask your friends to wear the ugliest Christmas sweater they can find and gather together? Answer: Over $800 raised for the Working Boys' Center.
This past December, former WBC volunteer James Hirsch and friends hosted an annual pub crawl in New York City to raise funds for Christmas gifts for students at the Working Boys' Center. Participants displayed their holiday sweaters as they worked their way around various restaurants and bars throughout Manhattan. This event raises awareness and funds for the WBC mission among younger donors and has become an annual holiday tradition in the Big Apple.
Students Making a Change
At St. John Vianney School in Brookfield, Wisconsin, it is a tradition during Advent for students to do service projects that help the less fortunate. This year, first graders and fifth graders participated in a new program called "CHANGE" for the Working Boys' Center Christmas. Students were asked to do extra chores at home and find other ways to acquire spare change and donate it to the program.
"CHANGE" for the Working Boys' Center Christmas raises money for the special Christmas celebration at the Center. As many know, on Christmas day the Center families gather for a celebration of Jesus' birth as well as the First Communion for those children who have prepared for it. A special chicken dinner is served to all 400 families. The special day costs approximately $5,000. The St. John Vianney students donated $723.55 during Advent to help with the cost. A family at St. John Vianney chose to match the student's donations, so a total of $1447.10 was presented to the WBC from the school.
First graders in Mrs. Albrigh's and Mrs. William's classes also made Christmas cards for the children at the WBC. A friend of a first grader who recently visited the WBC brought back knitted finger puppets for the SJV students. The kids were thrilled to receive something from Quito!
First grade teacher Mrs. Williams was so pleased with this new Advent project, she has already committed to her class next year participating.
To learn more about ways your school or parish can help the Working Boys' Center, contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.
Former WBC volunteer host annual bowling tournament
For the past seven years, several former Working Boys' Center volunteers have recruited friends and family to a bowling tournament to raise funds for the Center. This annual Denver tradition, named the Turkey Bowl, takes place the day before Thanksgiving and has nearly 100 participants.
The tournament was the brainchild of former volunteers and is organized by Chrissey Buckley, Tom Davis, Matt Davis and Mark Michalek and his wife, Kate.
This family friendly event has grown through the years and this year the tournament raised over $10,000 through donations, a silent auction and tournament registrations.
To learn more about organizing a special event like the Turkey Bowl, contact Patricia Jessup at 414-534-8285 or by clicking here.