A Valentine’s Day Celebration

Joseph, Timothy and Lawson of Birmingham giving their treasure to Bud Ozar

Joseph, Timothy and Lawson of Birmingham giving their treasure to Bud Ozar

Joseph, Timothy and Lawson of Birmingham, Alabama presented Bud Ozar, Founder of Friends of Kenyan Orphans, with a check for St. Clare Centre for Girls. The boys heard the story of the girls at St. Clare and were moved by how little the girls have compared to what they have. So they emptied their piggy banks and asked Dad to take them to the bank so that they could empty their savings accounts in order to give all they had to St. Clare. They felt it was a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Today, Friends of Kenyan Orphans’ primary work centers on support for The St. Clare Girls’ Center in Nchiru, Kenya. The girls have escaped from a variety of tragic, life-threatening situations. At St. Clare, young girls live in a safe place that provides food, clothing, education, medical attention and personal direction as they develop into confident young women with a bright future.

We are so grateful for the generosity of our young friends in Birmingham. But our work continues, as young girls still suffer on the streets of Kenya, and are brought to St. Clare in desperate need of shelter and safety. We need your help. Please join us by visiting www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and DONATE today. Thank you for your generosity!

Pen Pals Become Lifelong Friends

mercy ali_ at chc2 copyWhen her grandfather passed away in July of 2008, Ali’s grandmother asked that donations be  made to St. Clare Centre for Girls in Meru, Kenya. Listening to the stories about St. Clare her Aunt Sue and Uncle Bud (Ozar) told about St. Clare, Ali, who was fourteen at the time, wanted to play a part in the work of God at St. Clare. So she asked her Aunt Sue for a pen pal. Mercy who was a fourteen year old student in Aunt Sue’s class at the time became Ali’s pen pal. The two girls have been “exchanging letters, stories and dreams of meeting each other” ever since.

Over the years, Ali shares that the relationship between her and Mercy has evolved. When they first started writing letters, they were trying to get to know one another. They asked  questions about their favorite school subjects or what they wanted to be when they grew up. In addition, they exchanged photos and small gifts which they generally made for each other. “We got to know each other more and more letter after letter,” says Ali. “Our relationship continued because we had an indescribable bond, though meeting each other was beyond our wildest dreams”.

But in August, 2014, the two pen pals from diverse cultures finally met when Mercy arrived from Kenya to the U.S. on scholarship to study at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. Ali was at the airport to welcome her. Ali felt completely humbled when she finally got to meet Mercy. She is so impressed with Mercy’s passion, determination and beautiful soul, all of which inspire Ali. She believes, “Mercy is going to change the world and I cannot wait to see her do it.” Pictured on the left are Ali and Mercy at Chestnut Hill College in August, 2014.

We are so inspired by Ali and Mercy’s story. You can truly make a difference in the lives of the girls at St. Clare. Please join Ali and help lend a hand by visiting www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and clicking on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link today. Thank you!

 

Addy is Back!

Addy

Addy

Our friend Addy from New Jersey is back and continues to support the girls at St. Clare Centre in Kenya with sales of her soaps. You might remember Addy, founder of Soap for Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those in need. Believe it or not, she will soon finish her freshman year in high school! We caught up with Addy recently by telephone to see how she is able to juggle her school work and other commitments, yet still find time to make soap for good causes.

According to Addy, it all started a few years ago when she took a class at a local art museum. It was there that she caught the soap making bug. Soon after, she hosted a craft-themed birthday party where she and her close friends made soap. According to her Mom, Addy is very crafty, with a knack for crochet and needlework. This talent runs in the family, as Addy’s Great-Grandmother Madeline (“Nana” to her grandchildren) was likewise quite gifted. Addy and her friends thought it would be fun to sell their homemade soaps, and that is how the idea to start a non-profit organization, Soap for Hope, was born.

The girls frequent the local farmers’ market where they set up their soap stand; they generally have more than 100 bars of soap to sell to market visitors. This past year, the girls had an opportunity to display their soaps for sale at two local craft fairs. We asked Addy how she finds the time to make soap given the demands of her high school academic and social schedule. She said that she and her friends generally make the soap in early winter, and then take a break after the Christmas holiday rush. They pick up again in the summertime when they have more free time.

Several different charities and causes have been beneficiaries of Soap for Hope. Early on, they donated their proceeds to a young boy suffering from Angelman syndrome. In 2012, the girls donated the money they raised from soap sales to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

In 2013, and early 2014, Soap for Hope selected St. Clare Centre for Girls in Meru, Kenya to receive their donations. We asked Addy what inspired her to donate money to this mission, and she said, “I like helping others. I am crafty and it is fun. I like going to the market with my friends.” Addy and her family have been sponsoring a young girl at St. Clare for a couple years now. Her name is Namusu and she is 14 years old, almost the exact same age as Addy. According to Addy, “Their life … [in Kenya]… is difficult. People in the U.S. take a lot for granted that the girls in Kenya don’t have. I am lucky because I have a solid family and a place to go home to every night. These girls have nowhere to go.” Thanks to Addy and her organization, these young abandoned and orphaned girls in Kenya not only have a home at St. Clare, but they have food, clothing, and an opportunity for a solid education.

Equally important is the knwoledge these young girls at St. Clare carry with them … that Addy and her friends, and other special young people here in the United States, have heard their story and are committed to helping them overcome life’s hardships and look forward to a promising future.

We couldn’t be more inspired by Addy’s incredible heart and dedication. Over the Christmas holiday season, she and her pals raised and donated more than $1,300 to St. Clare Centre through Soap for Hope. Addy is a blessing, to Friends of Kenyan Orphans, and to the young girls in Kenya. Please join Addy and the “Jersey Girls” and help lend a hand by visiting www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and clicking on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link today. Thank you!

Maya Keeps Giving to St. Clare

maya (2)Meet Maya, an 8th grade student from St. Gerard School in Lansing, Michigan.  The youngest of three sisters, Maya loves school for so many reasons.  In addition to the camaraderie she shares with her classmates, Maya loves to learn.  Outside of the classroom Maya participates in NJHS (National Junior Honor Society), plays volleyball, does gymnastics and runs track.  In addition, she is busy volunteering with Meals on Wheels and spending her spring break in the south working for Habitat for Humanity.

Above and beyond all of these activities, Maya is a creative and talented artist.  After visiting local art fairs with her family, Maya decided she wanted to do something creative.   Taking advantage of her Christmas gift (a class at a local glass-art supply store), Maya found her niche.

Saving every penny she had, Maya purchased a kiln, a saw, sheets of dichroic glass and began LIQUIESCE Uniquely Maya.  (She named her business Liquiesce combining Liquid [used in her process] with Acquiesce [merging of colors after firing.]  Maya creates beautiful necklaces, pendants, earrings and even Christmas ornaments using dichroic glass.  When layered with clear glass and fired, dichroic glass allows Maya to create pieces that have colors that merge and pop.  Maya says that she is often surprised to see the finished product because of the merging.  She has recently expanded into creating logo pieces.  Recently Maya used the logo of the school where she will go to high school and made pendants using the school’s logo.  Calling herself a “jack-of-all trades,” Maya is not in the least bit afraid of learning using trial and error.  She even has a special “mistake drawer” where she recycles pieces that have not turned out to her standards.

Maya truly fits her business, Uniquely Maya.   This unique young woman has a strong belief in “giving back.”  Because of this, Maya donates a percentage of her profits to Friends of Kenyan Orphans.  Maya knows she is so blessed with the family she has and the talents God has given her.  “It’s important that I understand people don’t have what I do, so I want to always give back.”  When Maya’s family learned of Friends of Kenyan Orphans, they made a family decision to sponsor a girl.  Struck by the story of the girls at St. Clare, Maya decided to also share her profits.  Maya says that she relates to the girls at St. Clare.  “They are girls like I am and they attend a Catholic school like I do.”  She believes that giving to them through FOKO “helps me keep things in perspective.”pendanats to be (2)

We are so grateful to Maya for sharing with the girls at St. Clare. Please join Maya and help lend a hand by visiting www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and clicking on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link today.

You can view Maya’s work by visting https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liquiesce-by-Maya/173227002768923.

Thank you!

The Young Lady “In the Middle” Gives to St. Clare

Paige, 2013

Paige, 2013

Meet Paige – a 7th grader in middle school in Pennsylvania who happens to be the middle sister of 3 girls. In addition to playing basketball year-round for several teams, Paige finds time to play lacrosse and soccer. She is also quite busy with her academic pursuits and social commitments.

Paige was recently inducted into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). These days, she is thinking a lot about community service, as her membership in NJHS entails 15 hours of service each marking period. To fulfill her service obligations, she volunteers for All 4 Paws, where she helps introduce rescue dogs to families considering pet adoption.

What makes Paige a very special young lady is that she was thinking about service, and giving to those in need, long before she was required to log service hours for NJHS. In fact, we first learned about Paige at Christmastime in 2012 when she raised $306 for Friends of Kenyan Orphans by asking her extended family members, gathered for a holiday celebration, to donate money to St. Clare Girls Centre in Meru, Kenya. This past Christmas, Paige made the rounds at the family holiday party once again and more than doubled donations, raising $660 for the mission.

We were fortunate to catch up with Paige by phone recently when the snowy winter weather in Southeastern PA kept her at home, instead of on the basketball court. When asked why she wanted to raise money for the Kenyan girls who are abandoned and orphaned, she responded, “My family is very fortunate, but everyone in the world is not as fortunate. It is really good to help others and who knows, one day, you or someone you know may need a helping hand.” Paige credits her Mom for inspiring her sensitivity to the needs of the girls at St. Clare. Paige and her Mom Kate are continuing the O’Connell family tradition of generosity and giving back.

We are so fortunate that Paige has inspired her family by sharing her time and treasure with Friends of Kenyan Orphans. Please join Paige and help lend a hand by visiting www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and clicking on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link today. Thank you!

The Jersey Girls are Still Spreading Hope

In August of 2012, we introduced you to Addy, then an 8th grader from New Jersey who together with her friends came up with a great idea to make and sell soap to raise money for those in need. In 2011, the girls founded Soap for Hope, a charitable organization dedicated to making soap to sell at their local farmers’ market (and online) for charitable causes close to their hearts. Well, Addy is now in high school, and is still sacrificing her time and treasure to make and sell soap. Once again, the proceeds from Soap for Hope will go directly to St. Clare Centre, home and school to more than 350 orphaned girls in Meru, Kenya.

Through Friends of Kenyan Orphans, Addy and her family are sponsoring a young girl at St. Clare as well. We cannot say enough about Addy’s dedication to these young girls in Meru. Despite all the demands on high school students, these young Jersey Girls are an inspiration to us all!  Thank you Addy to you and your friends for all you are doing!

Please join Addy and support the girls at St. Clare Centre in Kenya. Go to www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and click on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link today. Thank you!

Addy at the farmer's market selling soap for St. Clare.

Addy at the farmer’s market selling soap for St. Clare.

The Frekko’s Lemonade Stand

Meet the Frekko’s from Gaithersburg, MD.  In August, the Frekko’s met in MD for a family reunion. The grandchildren – all 11 of them – decided to run two lemonade stands to raise money for charity. Their grandmother Truda has a connection to Friends of Kenyan Orphans, as she went to college with Sue Ozar, one of the co-founders of the organization. At her suggestion, the children decided to donate their lemonade sale proceeds to the Friends of Kenyan Orphans, where the money will help fund housing and education expenses for the hundreds of young girls living at the St. Clare Centre in Meru Kenya. All told, the Frekko grandchildren raised $50 for the cause!

We are so grateful for the generosity of these young children, and encourage you to follow their lead. If you would like to join the Frekko’s in supporting the girls at St. Clare Centre in Meru, please visit www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and click on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link.  Thank you!

Frekko grandchildren selling lemonade - August 2013

Frekko grandchildren selling lemonade – August 2013

St. Gerard Students Remain Dedicated to St. Clare

Two years ago Kathy Partlow went on an immersion trip to Kenya as part of the Friends of Kenyan Orphans annual visit to St. Clare Centre for Girls. While in Kenya, Kathy taught the St. Clare girls. Upon her return to Michigan, she was inspired to share her experiences and enthusiasm with her students at St. Gerard School in Lansing, MI. The students caught her fire and  began to fund raise. The Junior National Honor Society, the Girl Scout troop, along with other service-minded students have steadily been supporting the St. Clare girls ever since. Most recently, St. Gerard School raised $500 for the fish campaign and $1,200 for a 2-year sponsorship of one of the girls at the Centre.

Father Riwa visited St. Gerard during his “Gratitude Tour” last fall here in the United States. He is shown below addressing the Junior High School students who are the primary supporters of Father and St Clare.

IMG_0206       IMG_0209

We can’t thank Kathy Partlow and St. Gerard students enough for their generosity and support!  If you would like to join the generous students of St. Gerard and improve the lives of the girls at St. Clare Centre in Kenya, visit www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and click on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link.  Thank you!

Kicking It For Kenya!

St Mary School in Charlotte, Michigan is a small school with a huge heart!

When Kathy Partlow visited St Mary’s to share stories and pictures of St Clare with the student body of 64 students, they immediately caught her spirit and were determined  to raise enough funds to sponsor a young girl living at the Centre.  They named their campaign KICKING IT FOR KENYA and off they went. Through “Dress down Days”, sales of school supplies and novelties (pictured below) they raised the initial $460. An enterprising young 3rd grader then, set on reaching the school goal, asked her parents to contribute the final $40.

      

Congratulations to students, staff, teachers, administrators and parents alike. Indeed St. Mary School in Charlotte, MI is a small school with a huge heart!  Please join the students at St. Mary School and support the girls at St. Clare Centre in Kenya. Go to www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and click on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link today. Thank you!

Brownell’s GEAR Up! Club Goes Fishing

IMG_1386What happens when you mix Drama Club, National Junior Honor Society, and GEAR Up! Club? Well, at Brownell Middle School in Grosse Pointe, Michigan you get fun, fish, and $380 in donations for a very worthy cause.

Here’s the scoop … in March, Brownell Middle School students put their heads together to support Friends of Kenyan Orphans. Brownell’s NJHS students sold candy and water during the school’s Drama Club production.  GEAR Up! sold Swedish fish in cleverly made paper origami-type packets, which were recyclable.  The students had a QR code on the front of each packet, which would lead to Friends Of Kenyan Orphans’ web site.  When the purchaser opened the packet and ate the Swedish fish, a picture of the fish drawn by a class 4 student from St. Clare could be found.

GEAR Up! is a student club started at Brownell in 2011.  The club explores ways for Brownell to become a more environmentally responsible community and initiates projects involving recycled materials. The students latched on to the fish theme as a clever way to connect to Father Riwa’s fisheries at The Children’s Village in Meru Kenya.  In an effort to become self sufficient in the care and feeding of the children at St. Clare, Father Riwa is developing fisheries at The Children’s Village.  These fisheries provide a nutritious protein supply and contribute to a more balanced diet for the young girls living at St. Clare. Swedish fish sales at Brownell have helped Fr. Riwa raise fish to sustain life at St. Clare.IMG_1381

Brownell Middle School teacher Joanna Porvin presented the $380 check to Friends of Kenyan Orphans in late April.  Joanna traveled to Kenya with Bud and Sue Ozar (founders of Friends of Kenyan Orphans) in 2010 and has remained a strong supporter of the charity ever since.

Thank you to all the students and staff at Brownell who joined together to help the girls at St. Clare in Meru .. and for being socially responsible stewards of our environment. If you want to help contribute to the fisheries at The Children’s Village, or find other ways to help, visit www.friendsofkenyanorphans.com and click on the HOW YOU CAN HELP link.

Thank you!Fish Bulletin Board