An image of a group of preachers who serve Unbound.
Aug 28 2017

After a lifetime of service, they want to do more

Unbound preachers gather in Kansas City

An image of a group of preachers who serve Unbound.

Unbound preachers gather for the annual preachers conference at the Unbound HQ in Kansas City.

By Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor

Last week a group of Catholic priests who travel around the country to preach on behalf of Unbound were at our headquarters in Kansas City for their annual conference. Every summer they join together as a community for a few days of learning and fellowship, and to share stories of their adventures traveling to parishes throughout the U.S.

For those of us who work in Kansas City, this is one of our favorite times of the year. It’s our opportunity to thank them for all the times they drove seven hours to get to that small town in the middle of nowhere in time for Saturday confessions, or spent the night at Gate 23 at DFW because their originating flight was canceled in Philadelphia.

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An image of two women sitting at a table at Unbound.
Aug 26 2017

The heart of Unbound

A student intern's reflection

An image of two women sitting at a table at Unbound.

Selica (right), an Unbound student intern and former sponsored child from Guatemala, interviews Maria, who works in our service center.

For college students, summers are often a time for continued learning through internships. And this summer was a special one at Unbound, as one of our eager, talented student interns was Selica Piloy, a former sponsored child who now attends Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, just a few hours’ drive from our headquarters in Kansas City. Selica brought her international relations education and her personal passion for journalism to her internship. In this piece, she reflects on her experience of observing the inner workings of a major international nonprofit.

By Selica Piloy, student intern

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity for an internship at Unbound. Working here has always been one of my dreams and now it has come true. The environment here is really lovely. Unbound employees are always helping each other, and the role of each one is very important to the team as a whole. I have seen them working hard every day to accomplish their goals and better serve the sponsored children and families.

I’ve come to understand the daily work of all the different departments at Unbound. All of their efforts together form the veins of Unbound, and I want to take some time to recognize that.
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An image of an elderly man outside his home in a Kenyan slum.
Aug 23 2017

Appreciating the giftedness of elders

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of an elderly man outside his home in a Kenyan slum.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Managing Editor Loretta Shea Kline.

August 21 was National Senior Citizens Day, an opportunity to honor the elders in our lives and thank them for all they’ve given us.

I think of my 96-year-old mother, Erla, who shows me what it means to age with grace and courage. She has little eyesight left, which limits her in doing everyday tasks and things she enjoys like reading, playing piano and following baseball.

But she doesn’t focus on limits. Instead, she concentrates on what’s still possible for her: listening to an audio book, singing and playing a hymn from memory instead of sheet music, and listening to a baseball game on radio. Her example encourages me to persevere despite obstacles that come my way.

I also think of elders I’ve met in my travels for Unbound. Recently, I met Erastus, a 71-year-old man in Kenya who lost his wife and home in the post-election violence of 2007. He told us how he felt blessed to receive international visitors, and he welcomed me and the other Unbound staff members to his home with a ready smile and an offering of fresh fruit.

He willingly shared his life’s story, from his boyhood and school days in colonial times to working hard as a farmer and experiencing love and loss. He talked repeatedly about the need to be “flexible,” which I took to mean having the capacity to adapt, to be resilient and joyful in the face of sorrow and life’s everyday trials.

We have much to learn from our elders, and in honor of National Senior Citizens Day, let’s be mindful of all the ways they show younger generations how to live life to its fullest. My mother summed up her approach to life by singing for me a verse from one of her favorite hymns, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Read a story about an elderly woman in Guatemala who lives with joy and gratitude amidst hardships.

Please pray

Lord of life, open our eyes and hearts to appreciate the gifts that elders model for us, like contentment. We’re reminded in Matthew 6:26 that true contentment comes from reliance on God: “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?” Grant us insight and humility to learn from the examples of elders, and see them for the blessings they are in our lives. We ask this in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

An image of a woman biking in a park.
Aug 21 2017

A rite of passage turned passion to help Unbound

Reflection from an Unbound Trailblazer

An image of a woman biking in a park.

Jessica Wooden wears her Trailblazer shirt while biking in a Kansas City park.


By Jessica Wooden, online children coordinator and Unbound Trailblazer

I still remember Christmas of 1998, when I was 5 years old. I came into the living room of my grandparents’ house and there it was. A new bike. The handlebars had a foam cover, adorned with grapes. The paint was a shimmering purple. It was beautiful and, more than anything, it was mine.

Riding a bike. I have to admit that the thought of doing this again as I got older scared me at first. The fearless 5-year-old who would get right back up after she had fallen had somehow left me. Regardless, I did try riding again, and it now means so much more to me than it ever did before.
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An image of a home in El Salvador.
Aug 19 2017

‘The families are the reason I continue’

Serving as a social worker in El Salvador's gang-afflicted cities

An image of a home in El Salvador.

A home in El Salvador, typical of the homes Carmen and other Unbound social workers visit on a regular basis.



To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. Carmen is from El Salvador and works for Unbound as a social worker in 11 communities in Santa Ana, with more than 200 sponsored children and their families. She started with Unbound seven years ago, learning about the organization while working as a caretaker for a sponsored elderly woman. Carmen and her husband have a 16-year-old daughter.

In this interview, conducted by Naresli Calitto, former communications liaison, Carmen shares about her experience working for Unbound amidst the challenges of life in El Salvador. Her name was changed for safety reasons.

Keep reading

An image of Unbound staff visiting a home in El Salvador.
Aug 16 2017

‘To bind up the brokenhearted’

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of Unbound staff visiting a home in El Salvador.

Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by writer/editor Maureen Lunn.

The prophet Isaiah’s great anointment, revealed in Isaiah 61, was an announcement of glad tidings for those whose lives were, perhaps, not so joyous. Much like the words Jesus would later speak in the Beatitudes, Isaiah proclaimed good news, comfort and freedom for those in pain and struggle.

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
To bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
Release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the Lord
And a day of vindication by our God;
To comfort all who mourn …” (Isaiah 61: 1-2)

This week we celebrate World Humanitarian Day, honoring people who dedicate their lives to serving those who are afflicted, brokenhearted or held captive. Like Jesus and Isaiah, these compassionate people act out of a deep calling to help others live with dignity, respect and equality.

We see this passion in women like Carmen, an Unbound social worker who faces the gang-afflicted streets of El Salvador to serve sponsored children and their families. Carmen promotes the welfare of others through her spirit and presence, showing those in need that they are seen, known and loved amidst the daily struggles of life.

This is the work of a humanitarian, following in the footsteps of Christ. May we all find ways today and every day to help bind up the brokenhearted.

Look for Carmen’s story on the blog later this week.

Please pray

God of justice, anoint each of us as you did Isaiah, that we may respond to the call to comfort those who mourn. We ask for your protection and blessings on all humanitarians who face danger in their day-to-day service, and we pray for freedom and safety for those in trouble today. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.

An image of Sonia wearing her Family Defense group vest.
Aug 14 2017

‘No longer afraid’

Peruvian mom works to prevent domestic violence

An image of a family of women in Peru.

Sonia (center), with her daughters, Lady (left), Heydi (right) and baby Luna. Lady is sponsored by Mary in Indiana and Heydi is sponsored by Edward in Nebraska.

By Corbett McKinney, student intern

To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. In Peru, a tenacious mother named Sonia helps others by participating in the local Family Defense group, organized through our program in Lima.

Living in a rocky, dusty city south of the capital, Sonia is the mother of three girls, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound. She’s fiercely proud and protective of her girls. Lady and Heydi are her older children, who are sponsored. Her youngest daughter, Luna, is an infant. Together with her husband, daughters and the family dog, Sonia transforms their modest home into a joyful space filled with noise and laughter.

Sonia’s life wasn’t always so happy.
Keep reading

Field report
Aug 12 2017

Serving families in Venezuela amidst crisis

Field report

As government security forces clash with protestors and inflation continues to rise, tension and economic instability in Venezuela are escalating rapidly.

The 3,500 families Unbound serves in Venezuela face the daily hardships of food scarcity, transportation interruptions and power outages.

Our program in Venezuela is based in Barquisimeto, a city of more than 800,000 residents located 225 miles west of the nation’s capital, Caracas. We serve sponsored members and their families there through the efforts of 26 local staff members. Keep reading

An image of a young Bolivian woman with a traditional instrument.
Aug 9 2017

Helping youth find their wings

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a young Bolivian woman with a traditional instrument.

Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Senior Writer Larry Livingston.

Our work with youth is a particular joy for the Unbound community. They often inspire us with their creativity and resilience in the face of deep poverty. Encouraged by their sponsors, and blessed with the gift of hope, they dare to dream of a better life for themselves and their families. They also remind us that energy and industry, when bolstered by the encouragement of a friend, is a powerful force.

The young people in the Unbound world, like youth everywhere, brim with creativity and the desire to share their gifts with the world. All they need from us is a launching pad. They’ll take flight on their own.

The United Nations has designated Aug. 12 as International Youth Day. Thanks to all who nurture the gifts of youth and, especially, to those who sponsor young people in the Unbound program.

Read a story about the musical gifts of young people.

Please pray

Loving God, you bless the human family with the energy and idealism of young people. May we listen to them, protect them and stand in awe of your presence within them. Let us learn from our youth as well as teach them, knowing that each generation holds graces all its own. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.
Aug 7 2017

Understanding one young Mayan woman’s experience

An interview with a former sponsored member

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.

Former sponsored member Selica Piloy shares her experiences as an indigenous Guatemalan woman at an event at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


The U.N. has designated Aug. 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to Dictionary.com, indigenous means “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.” In simple terms, an indigenous person is one whose ancestry is based in the country and region in which they are born.

According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people living in 90 countries across the world. With that kind of diversity, the experiences of one indigenous group might vary greatly from the experiences of another. There are some common experiences, however, such as maintaining strong connections to tradition and community, and facing the challenges of discrimination and lack of opportunity. How these experiences develop depend on the country, region and even sometimes the gender of an indigenous person.

At Unbound, we focus on the individual to understand their distinct needs and goals. To gain a better understanding of what it’s like growing up as an indigenous person, we interviewed Selica Piloy, a former sponsored member from Guatemala who’s attending college in the United States and just finished a summer internship at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City. Selica, 21, is getting ready to start her sophomore year at Cottey College in southern Missouri, where she’s pursuing a degree in international studies.

Selica is part of the Kaqchikel Mayan community in Guatemala. She’s passionate, bright and articulate in describing her experience as an indigenous woman.
Keep reading

The U.N. has designated Aug. 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to Dictionary.com, indigenous means “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.” In simple terms, an indigenous person is one whose ancestry is based in the country and region in which they are born. According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million […]

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