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Steven M. Kirby is the founder of H.E.R.O., a charity founded to provide housing, education, and rehabilitation for orphans and street children in Haiti Steve is also one of the newest board members of House of Blue Hope (HBH). This is his letter to his H.E.R.O. supporters after this past weekend’s HBH annual board retreat:
The only possible method of solving the problems in this world is if we work together. It has been best said by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This statement is very true when applied to the context of individuals and organizations helping to provide life opportunities for the street children and orphans of this world. What I have found is that there are many small groups working to benefit the orphaned and abandoned children of this world, but unfortunately, these small groups often fail to work together for the greater good. Instead, it is a battle over donors, funds, space, and notoriety. It is for this particular reason that I was excited to participate in a Board of Directors retreat for a non-profit organization that is working to save the street children and orphans of Tanzania. House of Blue Hope, is an organization founded by Billy Bludgus, a University of Miami alum and friend. During the retreat I had the opportunity to learn about the amazing work of HBH in Tanzania and take away important nuggets of information that will help me make H.E.R.O. a better residence for orphans here in Haiti.
I was invited to join the Board of Directors of House of Blue Hope 6 months ago. Three of the current board members are University of Miami Alumni, a school from which I earned both my B.S.Ed. and M.S.Ed. HBH started with a rented room and a few kids and has now grown to owning their own residence, renting out another, and they currently enroll 19 children. I am truly amazed at the work that HBH has accomplished in such a short time frame and I hope that H.E.R.O. can achieve similar success. At the retreat we discussed mundane topics such as amending the constitution, but we were also able to talk about important aspects of our work including education, housing, and social integration. While Tanzania and Haiti are two countries geographically distant, they share many similarities, especially with regard to infrastructure, development, educational opportunities, and employment. The retreat allowed me to learn about Tanzania, House of Blue Hope, and best practices for running a residence for orphans, while at the same time sharing my experiences building H.E.R.O. from the ground up. All in all, it was a very rewarding retreat.
The lesson that I take away from this experience is that while yes, Margaret Mead’s statement is absolutely correct, even more can be accomplished when these small groups of citizens come together to share experiences, work on solutions, and create a better world. While the collaboration between HBH and H.E.R.O. is commendable, I wish for the same opportunities for other organizations in Haiti. In the end, we have to remember that the work we do in Haiti is not for accolades or awards, but for the benefit of the street children and orphans. I will continue to reach out to organizations in Haiti, as I have done so since the inception of H.E.R.O., and pray that these organizations decide that it isn’t competition, but collaboration that is needed in this country. Only then, will we truly succeed!
Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D
In celebration of their growing popularity, iGive will be donating $5 to House of Blue Hope for each new sign up and then another $5 for the first purchase used through iGive. It’s completely free for you to use so please sign up and help Blue Hope! You can sign up here. Thanks!
August 24, 2011
Dear House of Blue Hope Family,
This past June and July, I was fortunate enough to spend a few weeks back in Tanzania for my annual visit. I spent time at two houses interviewing each of our 19 kids, reviewing their school report cards, discussing their hopes and goals for the next year, and listening to their concerns about the future. I also conducted an overall evaluation of our programs, met with each staff member, and held a Tanzanian House of Blue Hope Board meeting.
The conversations, observations, assessments, and dialogue were all incredibly encouraging and inspiring. Our 19 kids are all enrolled in reputable schools and performing well, with many showing significant academic improvement and growth over the past year. Moreover, our kids are happy and healthy, taking care of each other, studying together, and forming true mentorships as our older boys assist our younger boys with homework and sports. Our staff members continue to grow into their roles as well, implementing many of the recommendations from last year which has significantly enhanced organization and structure within our programs. Our community outreach has improved, and our social worker is well-known at many of the community schools which I visited. Our Board of Directors is developing some very practical yet innovative ideas they have for expanding our project over the next several years.
It is always a true blessing to re-visit our work in Tanzania. Four years ago, we bought an empty plot of land. Now we are supporting 19 kids at two facilities, and all are thriving! Of course, there is always room for growth as well. We have set some goals for this upcoming year, mainly involving increasing communication both internally among our staff in Dar es Salaam, and externally within the local community. We are also looking to improve the evening academic programming in the house, and we have already started on this, conducting interviews for an evening educational programmer during my visit. I am confident the new position will help remediate and empower our kids even more effectively.
Naturally, as we continue to grow as an organization, we do continue to rely on your generous support. My visit undoubtedly convinced me that we are supporting good and effective work. Our efforts on the ground continue to change the trajectory of kids’ lives for the better. We are creating a world of difference for 19 kids at the moment; let’s keep these kids shining and thriving, and add a few more to the lot this upcoming year as well!
I sincerely and wholeheartedly thank you for all you do for the House of Blue Hope Foundation. Together, we are “overcoming poverty through education…one child at a time.” Let’s keep it up! Thank you again, and God Bless!
Children across the United States are getting ready to start another school year packed with learning and making friends. Buying school supplies, comparing their teachers, and persuading mom and/or dad to buy those cool new shoes to wear on the first day. It’s an exciting time of year!
In the spirit of back to school in the USA, we have some back to school shopping needs. Please consider even just a $10 donation so the children in our program who are working hard in their studies have the necessary tools to be successful. Thank you!
- New clothes for all the housing program boys
- School books for the outreach program boys
- Support our Tutor Fund! To help the children in our program have the best opportunities in their education, we employ a teacher to tutor them each school night and help them practice their English.
We are excited to announce that BK Clothing Co has generously partnered with House of Blue Hope! Purchase a “Blue Hope” hoodie and the proceeds from your purchase will be donated to House of Blue Hope. With fair trade production and a super cool design, this is the perfect gift for anyone on your shopping list (or for yourself!)
House of Blue Hope Foundation
Overcoming poverty through education… one child at a time.
May 2011, Vol 3 Issue 2
|Strides for Kids!
It’s our annual charity walk and it will be bigger and better than last year! Starting at 10am in Whitnall park, there will be the traditional 5k walk/run, with food, entertainment, raffle/silent auction, and tons of fun! Register for the walk here. This year, we are having a contest for who raises the most pledges as well! To raise pledges, you will have your own fund raising web page – just email Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org to get set up!
News From Tanzania – Meet Frank
Frank is 11 years old and has had a rough start to life. His father was murdered and his mother has been in jail for most of his childhood. Frank joined the House of Blue Hope program and moved into the house in Fall of 2010. He is really enjoying school and his studies, and especially loves learning English, which he practices every night with the Blue Hope tutor, Patrick. Frank wants to go into politics and become a government leader when he grows up. Meet the rest of the Blue Hope boys!
Second Annual Poker Tournament
Join us for our second annual poker tournament!
What: Our second annual poker tournament is a fund raiser for the House of Blue Hope Foundation. The three finalist will receive a prize as well as everyone who makes it to the final table will receive an additional prize for their accomplishment! There will be a beginners table for those who want to play, but are new to the game. Come to play, and bring your friends to enjoy the amazing food and drinks at Center Court! **If you bring two friends who also play, your first buy-in will be free!
Please email email@example.com if you have any questions!
Where: Center Court Pub and Grille (1118 N. 4th Street, Milwaukee)
When: Friday, June 3 starting at 7pm
Register Now here before the seats fill up!
Happy Birthday to our board president, Billy Bludgus!
Have a chance at winning a Starbucks gift basket of goodies and bragging rights in this year’s Blue Hope Bracket Challenge. Simply donate $10 here and we will send you the id and password for our Yahoo Tournament page. Remember, you must get your bracket in before Thursday’s game – so hurry and register now! Please send any question you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and good luck!
On February 15th, the House of Blue Hope turned 4 years old. Over the past four years we have gone from supporting 4 kids in a rented room to now supporting 16 kids through school, owning our own building, renting a second building, instituting a variety of weekend and evening holistic educational programs, and partnering with a number of other non-profits throughout the country as we really try to address the root causes of why there are kids on the streets in the first place. It’s been quite the journey!
Thank you for all your support and helping us be so successful. We look forward to many more anniversaries and hope you will continue to support our mission and the children in the program. Thank you!
We are happy to present our new short video on the history of Blue Hope. Special thanks to board member, Adam Weise, for creating it. We hope you enjoy it! Also, this video has been submitted into the TechSoup 2nd Annual Digital Storytelling Challenge and we have a chance to win some amazing prizes for our program. Please vote here for House of Blue Hope before 2/11. Thank you!
334 Avenue A
Bayonne, NJ 07002