Ingrid (left), a sponsored youth in Guatemala, displays her high school diploma with her mother, Rosalinda, in front of their home.
By Stacy King, lead trip coordinator
As a member of the Unbound trips team, I’ve had the honor of traveling with sponsors and coworkers abroad, and meeting some awesome sponsored families. Many of the families have shared their beautiful and inspirational life stories, and hearing them never grows old. But every once in a while, a story will connect and touch my heart in a special way.
Trailblazer Gary Thompson celebrates after finishing the 2016 Hospital Hill Run half marathon course in Kansas City, Missouri.
Run 70 marathons by age 70.
That was Gary Thompson’s goal, and he exceeded it. His most recent race was the Shamrock Marathon last month in Virginia Beach. It was his 72nd marathon at “70 years young,” he said.
For Gary, a professor in the law and criminal justice department at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, running is about more than fitness. It’s about travel, being social and doing something good for others. Get more inspiration from Gary!
Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his “soulmate,” wife Tiburcia.
Sometimes a person doesn’t realize how bad things have been until they begin to see how much better they can be.
That’s the way it was for sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala. Six years ago he injured his leg while collecting firewood. But because he couldn’t afford proper medical care, the wound never healed and eventually developed into a trophic ulcer.
When Eusebio became sponsored through Unbound in 2014, he was finally able to see a doctor. He learned just how close he had come to losing his leg and, possibly, his life. He began receiving treatment, which continues today.
Becky Findley after completing the 2015 Kansas City Marathon as an Unbound Trailblazer.
Becky Findley (left) with fellow Unbound Trailblazer Xandra Alpiser.
By Becky Findley, Unbound International Evaluations Manager and Unbound Trailblazer
We’ve all been there. That point during a run when you begin to think — “how much longer? Why am I even doing this anyway?” Unbound Trailblazer and staff member Becky Findley shares her reflection on her pursuit to overcome these feelings and become a “real” runner.
I’ve almost reached mile 22, and I’m feeling beat. The weather is unseasonably warm and humid, and my legs are sore. I signed up for this marathon to test my limits, and, in this moment, I think I’ve found them. In this moment, the topic cycling my brain is the question of why I signed up for this race.
Like most runners who began in adulthood, starting to run was a struggle. Going to the park was a humbling act. Other runners zipped past with an elegant combination of speed and athleticism while I struggled to find my stride with the grace of a duck. Quickly, I’d lose my breath, slow to a walk and wonder if I would ever be a “real” runner.
We’re pleased to present “Unbound Unscripted,” a monthly video series introducing staff members at our HQ in Kansas City. The staffers all have unique stories of how they came to Unbound and what makes it so special to them. First up is Gene Komer, who for many is the voice of Unbound. Watch the video to hear Gene’s story of taking 732 phone calls on his first day as our receptionist!
Letter writing is an important part of the Unbound program. Letters connect sponsors with their sponsored friends, giving them a chance to learn about each other’s lives and offer encouragement.
But have you ever wondered about the journey your letter takes on its way to your sponsored friend? Watch this video, which illustrates the journey of a letter from a sponsor in the U.S. to her sponsored friend in the Philippines, to get a better idea of the effort and love that goes into delivering each letter.
Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.
Whether it’s providing workshops for sponsored members and their families or encouraging children and youth to stay in school, education has always been a pillar of the Unbound program. And we know that each person has unique needs and abilities, so Unbound social workers work with sponsored members to find the education that’s the best fit, from taking formal classes during the week or opting for technical school or a training program.
With the assistance they receive from Unbound, individuals around the world are choosing to continue their education, and some are even able return to their studies after having to take a break. And Unbound doesn’t just limit the encouragement to children and youth. One of the best examples of this is sponsored elder Cristina from Guatemala. Cristina is 63 years old and has been a part of the Unbound program for more than four years.
Maria, 22, is a former sponsored member who now works as a social worker for Unbound while pursuing a nursing degree.
Children learn many things from their parents. Maria, 22, from Costa Rica, is going to school to become a nurse, has a job as a social worker with Unbound and is a former sponsored member and scholarship recipient through Unbound. She credits her parents, Francisco and Maria, with teaching her and her eight siblings many important lessons. One of the many values she and her brothers and sisters have learned from their parents’ example is the importance of hard work.
“We have always worked, since we were children,” Maria said. “Our parents instilled [work ethic] in us and taught us to recognize the value of things. By working, we learned to fight for what we wanted. In spite of the fact that we had to work, we had a very beautiful childhood.”
One of the ways we’ve been celebrating our 35th anniversary is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked them how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing about being sponsored is or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’ve featured 35 snapshots of our global community over the past several weeks right here on the blog. Check out the final set of snapshots in the series below, and check out previous posts in the series here!
One of the ways we are celebrating our 35th anniversary coming up on Nov. 20 is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing about being sponsored is or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’re featuring 35 snapshots of our global community over the next several weeks leading up to Nov. 20, right here on the blog. Check out the second set of seven snapshots in the series, and stay tuned!