Category: Unbound

Feb 10 2009

‘I’m going to miss your letters’

ìI truly hope, with all my heart that you are well because you deserve all blessings from this world.î

So begins the final letter from Karol to her sponsor of 10 years, Joseph Presper. Karol has finished her studies and is now working as a nurseís assistant at a hospital near her home. Because she has finished her university studies, it was time for Karol to be retired from the CFCA program. CFCA does not retire a person at a certain age. Instead, we walk with them until they have reached their educational goals.

Finishing her studies and graduating from the program was a bittersweet time for Karol. She writes, ìAt this moment there is also this great sadness in my heart Ö not only for your help but because I love you so very much and I am going to miss your letters, your news, knowing about your life and your family.î

Mr. Presper, a retired accountant,†says he used his letters to encourage Karol in her studies. He began to sponsor because he came to a point in his life when he realized he did not need more material possessions. There are so many others in the world who need so much, he said.

While he did not get the chance to visit Karol they both feel they grew close through their letters. Karol continues, ìI remember every single detail, all your letters, everything that youíve gone through, everything youíve shared with me, your support. Just imagine! I have your picture taped in my bedroom and anybody that comes in always asks me, whoís he? And I proudly answer, ëMy Godfather!íî

Karol had one last request of her Godfather: please sponsor another child. ìI would feel very happy to know that your beautiful light will light up the life of another child Ö there are many children of this world that need support, love and help to continue on, to bloom and change their own future.î

In this Valentine season where we can get lost in a sea of cards, chocolate, flowers and sentiment, we want to recognize the deep love that exists between a CFCA sponsor and sponsored friend. Karol closes her letter by saying, ìYou can be sure that there is someone that will always carry you in heart and mind. I will pray to God, everyday, to fill you with blessings, to keep you healthy. My life has been marked since I met you. Please, pray to God for me too, this is how we will continue to be united for eternity.î

Mr. Presper honored Karolís request and chose to sponsor another child.

Jan 28 2009

How I found my friend

By Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

ìIt was the picture that did it for me.î

ìThe priest had four folders left, and I just grabbed two!î

ìI saw on the folder that the childís birthday was the same as my fatherís birthday. It was just meant to be!î

As a preacher for CFCA, I find it fascinating the myriad of reasons people are drawn to a particular child or aging person once they have made the decision to sponsor. Some look long and hard over the folders, reading carefully the personal information inside. Some say they feel called by God to pick ìthis very one.î

I often encourage people to pick someone from a country they would like to visit so they can meet their friend on a mission awareness trip. And for many, the decision is just too hard so they ask me to pick.

The longer I do this work the more convinced I am that God does have a hand in putting sponsors and sponsored friends together. I remember there was one folder of a young man in his 20s. He had special needs and would probably always need help but also had some big plans for his life.

However, for the life of me I couldnít get him sponsored. I must have taken his folder to five appeals and no one would take him. Then, at one parish, a man came up to me, grabbed my arm and looked at me with tears in his eyes. He said, ìI recently lost my 18-year-old son to drugs. He is gone, and now I need another.î

ìI have just the boy for you.î

Those two men needed each other, and God brought them together.

WendyIn our family we let our 7-year-old daughter pick a folder. She picked Wendy because she said Wendy looked like someone she would want to play with. When our son gets a bit older we will let him discern who he would like to have for a new friend as well. We are deeply grateful to God for bringing Wendy in our lives and giving my kids an ìolder sister.î

So, what about you? How did you choose your friend? We would love to hear your stories of connection, intent and surprise. We welcome you to share how God brought someone special into your life through CFCA.

How did YOU find your friend?

Jan 21 2009

A prayer for solidarity

We pray with the nation and the world for the new administrationófor wisdom and thoughtful governance.

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said he was ìhumble,î ìgratefulî and ìmindful.î He spoke of hard work ahead, of solidarity and of the responsibilities of freedom.

He said, ìTo the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.î

Please guide us, O God, as we pledge to work in solidarity, to assure that basic needs are met for those living in poverty and in creating opportunities for the poor. Give us the strength to stand up for the most vulnerable and those who are marginalized in society.

As we continue our daily walk with the poor, we strive to be humble in our giving, mindful of the gifts the poor bring to our lives and grateful for the sponsored friends and sponsors with whom we work to create a better world.

Jan 14 2009

CFCA helps families put food on the table

Soaring food prices in 2008 made it more difficult for CFCA families to feed themselves. Though prices have fallen some, a recent United Nations report predicts that the cost of food will remain high in the long run. To improve long-term food security, CFCA has awarded several food grants to help families grow and produce their own food.

[vimeo w=500&h=350]

Donate to CFCAís Food Assistance Fund now.

Learn more about how you can help.

Jan 6 2009

Matthew’s birthday gift

Meet Matthew. He just celebrated his ninth birthday in an unusual way. He asked his friends to help him raise money for Magdalena, his family’s sponsored child, instead of bringing gifts to his birthday party. Magdalena lives in Guatemala and is 9 years old, too. Matthew personally brought his birthday gift into CFCA in December 2008.

[vimeo w=500&h=350]

Dec 29 2008

Rewards from 2008; blessings for 2009

Thank you, CFCA sponsors and donors, for all of the support youíve provided this year to our friends and families around the world. The gifts youíve given and love youíve shown to the children, youth and elderly living in poverty have made an enormous difference in their lives, the lives of their families and in our own lives. Itís a success that the whole CFCA community can share

To qualify for a 2008 tax deduction…
Online credit card contributions:
Midnight Central time, Dec. 31
Automatic bank withdrawal, online or by phone:
2 p.m. Central time, Dec. 30

What weíve done together
Even in the face of the economic downturn, we have achieved so much. With your support, weíve helped children go to school for the first time, and weíve helped older youth finish school. Weíve helped mothers give their families nutritious food to eat. Weíve provided roofs for houses, and materials for home repairs. Grandparents receive vital health care, children get to visit the dentist, and communities of CFCA parents are strengthened by the opportunity to learn income-generating skills or start small businesses.

We have partnered with our friends through sponsorship. Weíve also helped through donations to special funds. And through the Sponsorship Assistance Fund, weíve helped fellow sponsors continue their sponsorships during rough times like job loss and health issues.

Good news from 2008
We began 2008 with good news. Together, we reached the $100 million revenue milestone — a testament to the trust sponsors place in CFCA as good stewards. Itís really remarkable that each of us giving about $30 a month can make such a huge impact.

CFCA is also recognized for our commitment to responsible stewardship by three of the leading nonprofit watchdog agencies. We received the highest rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator; we met all 20 of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Allianceís rigorous Standards for Charity Accountability; and we earned the American Institute of Philanthropyís A+ rating, the only organization listed in the child-sponsorship category to receive an A+.

And another achievement we can all feel especially good about: We will begin 2009 with more sponsors and more sponsored friends being helped than we had a year ago.

Year-end contribution deadlines
As much as we have done, there is more that we can and will do together. To celebrate the end of the year with a contribution and qualify for a 2008 tax deduction, here are the deadlines:

  • Online credit card contributions: Midnight Central time, Dec. 31
  • Automatic bank withdrawal, online or by phone: 2 p.m. Central time, Dec. 30

A blessed new year ahead
We are grateful for your compassion and partnership with CFCA. Together, we are making a difference in each life we touch. Together, we make the world a better place for everyone.

Dec 15 2008

Christmas shopping in your slippers

christmas_catalog22Have you had a chance to check out the CFCA Christmas catalog yet? It offers a great opportunity to share the true spirit of Christmas with a friend or family member.

You can choose from five funds that support the†needs of people living in poverty around the world: scholarship program assistance; HIV/AIDS funding; food crisis support; housing support; and Christmas celebrations and gifts for children and the aging.

So instead of standing in long shopping lines for sweaters and picture frames and toys, we invite you to make a cup of hot chocolate, relax in your most comfortable, cozy slippers and avoid the crowds while you make a donation in honor of someone you care about.

You can also take comfort in knowing that 100 percent of your contribution goes to CFCA projects to benefit those assisted by the fund you select.

†We hope you enjoy your CFCA Christmas†gift-giving experience.

Dec 3 2008

A moment of reflection with Prayer Partners

By Sponsor Terrie Watkins

As so many of us, my daily life is hectic and distracting. When I received the invitation from CFCA for Prayer Partners, it sounded appealing. What I didn’t expect was that I would be so moved and impressed with the prayers.

They take me out of my daily “busyness” and bring me to a moment of reflection and communication with the Lord that is all too often neglected. It has provided a talking point with my family, as I can read the prayers at dinner and share the message. I am eagerly looking forward to continuing this communication. Thank you!

ppemail2Prayer Partners†began in August 2008†to provide a doorway into the CFCA projects. These weekly e-mails offer a prayerful way to support the CFCA community†and hopefully, to also enhance your own spiritual life. Prayer Partners is delivered on Mondays, and you can sign up to receive the e-mails on our†Web site.

Nov 26 2008

Thank you, dear sponsors

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to remember our blessings and give thanks for all the good things that are†made possible†with your support.

So, at this time, we want to express deep appreciation to all our sponsors and donors for the sacrifice you make each month in our shared journey of compassion.

Have a wonderful holiday! Please enjoy the following video with our heartfelt gratitude for all you do.

[vimeo w=500&h=350]

Nov 4 2008

From the mail bag: Writing your sponsored friend

Blog reader Carol commented and asked:

My husband and I sponsor a 14 year old girl in Guatemala. We always wrack our brains trying to find things to send her but the rules are so restrictive (no money, certain size package under a pound, etc, etc). It seems silly to send jewelry, which we usually resort to, when they may desperately need blankets. We ask in our letters “what do you need” but we don’t get an answer. How can you help us?

We thought that most of our sponsors are probably interested in this answer, so here it is, from Sponsor Services representative, Claudia.

Your letters and photos are the best gifts you could send

I know it sounds too easy, but we hear from our project staff time and time again that letters are really what the sponsored children and aging want the most.

Many gifts sponsors send are confusing to the families and children

Itís fun to pick out gifts, but customs are very different in the countries where CFCA works. We have heard from project staff, such as Father Mathew Vettukallel in Bhagalpur, India, that the children may receive items from the sponsor that they have no idea what to do with. Even though stickers and other doodads are something we see in our everyday lives, these items are often unfamiliar to sponsored friends, so they spend time inspecting the envelope that the items arrived in to see the stamps and the handwriting of the sponsor instead.

Gifts that you send could be at risk for being stolen

Mail is at a constant threat of being tampered with, especially once it leaves the United States. Packages sent internationally attract attention from thieves not only in transit within the local post offices, but also while being delivered by project staff. Some staff members have put their lives on the line during robberies to save precious letters they were delivering to the subproject offices. Although it is not a pleasant thought, receiving something that even just gives the appearance of value could put your friend at risk of having the item stolen by force.

Gift items can be difficult for the project staff to handle

Postal services are different all over the world. Picking up packages from the post office can be quite a challenge for our project staff.

In Kenya, the staff has reported that sometimes it can take three to four hours to clear one parcel through customs. Imagine how much time would be spent at the post office if they had to pick up one package for every sponsored person in Kenya. There are more than 15,000 children and aging individuals sponsored there right now!

This season, try sending a special letter to your friend instead of a gift

It seems clichÈ, but truly, it is the thought that counts. When our staff visit sponsored friendsí homes, the first things they are shown by those sponsored are pictures and letters from their sponsors. When I visited the Dominican Republic on a mission awareness trip in 2007, I had the same experience. Many homes were adorned with pictures and letters sent by the sponsor.

Sending a letter has the best chance of arriving safely and is less draining on the limited project staff than packages. You donít have to worry about finding an item that will fit into the right sized package, or choosing a shirt that is the right size. You canít go wrong with a letter, even if you just say, ìIím praying for you and your family this Christmas!† With love, Your Sponsor.î (Or in Spanish: Les rezo para ti y tu familia esta Navidad. Con cariÒo, Su Padrino/a.) Read helpful writing tips.

You also always have the option of donating to the CFCA Christmas fund. The children enjoy the gifts and parties that are made possible by donations to this fund. One hundred percent of the donation goes to CFCA projects, which use this fund to provide gifts and a celebration for the entire community of sponsored members.

Thank you for all you do as a sponsor! Your support and encouragement is a great gift in your sponsored friend’s life!