Purchase with a Purpose

The holiday season is upon us, this means Christmas lists need to be checked off and stockings need to be stuffed, and as the clock ticks closer to December 25th, the malls crowd with last-minute shoppers and long lines.

This holiday season skip the chaos of packed parking lots and hectic malls and shop online with Amazon Smile.

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Amazon Smile provides the same Amazon products and great prices but adds purpose to your purchase. With every purchase you make through Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase to Beacon of Hope.

The donations received from your purchases will go towards providing our children in Colombia with school supplies. So #ShopAndShare the gift of education.

Click Here to chose us as the organization your purchases will support :)

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What a Year! And Counting

Wow, time flies… It’s already November! I can almost smell the turkey, see the Christmas lights and watch the ball drop. But we’re not quite done yet!

We’ve been blessed to be having a pretty busy year here at Beacon of Hope.
Thanks to your contributions, we have had a lot going with our usual initiatives and were able to help some new initiatives come to life as well.

Here’s a brief recap of all the exciting things that have taken place throughout the year…

Our Games for Change program in Colombia was benefited by…

  • Repainting the sports complex and reinforcing the facilities in preparation for the rainy season and the flooding it brings
  • New sports equipment was also donated. The kids couldn’t wait to kick around those new soccer balls!
  • The sports complex’s makeover was celebrated with a re-opening event that featured soccer games and dance representations put together by the local schools. The event drew a large crowd from not only the schools, but the rest of the community as well

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Also in Colombia…

  • Over 300 sets of school supplies were provided to young students at a preschool  and primary school that both neighbor the sports complex
  • We hosted a fun-filled day at the pre-school that included story-telling and crafts led by a Pre-K teacher from the States. The children were also given children’s books, crayons, glue and other craft supplies to continue expressing their creativity and stimulating their young minds
  • We’re providing Juan Carlos, whose smile you may remember, with goods essential to his health, hygiene and comfort as he continues pushing to recover from his delicate medical condition

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Meanwhile, as part of our Climb for the Future program in Haiti…

  • 2 new classrooms were built to house the 6th grade, which in addition to the 2 classrooms we built last year for the 5th grade, makes the school a full primary school with 250 kids!
  • All the schoolchildren were also provided with the books and school supplies needed to kick off the school year on the right foot and be prepared for class
  • A playground was also donated for the kids to enjoy and use to exercise. Want to make sure there are healthy bodies to accompany those bright minds

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Our Happy Homes program in Nicaragua was expanded by… 

  • Having 10 latrines donated, rounding out the tail end of the initiative of having one outhouse for each of the program’s 25 homes. All new homes will include outhouses from the start
  • We are in the midst of providing showers to all 25 homes to further promote good hygiene in a dignified way. All new homes donated through this program will also include showers

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Our NEW educational initiative in Nicaragua is…

  • A scholarship program available to students from the Happy Homes program. It provides full access to higher education by covering education-related expenses, including a stipend to help with other expenses, and incorporating a variety of empowerment workshops
    • 2 of the students are in university studying engineering and nursing
    • 3 of the students are enrolled in vocational training seeking computing certifications
  • In addition to the scholarships, all school-going children from the 25 families received school supplies and all families participated in education-focused workshops

Thank you so much for your continued support that has made all of this possible. Please continue to support and join us on this beautiful journey. Stay tuned for what the rest of the year and next year have in store!

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Being Rich Is Not About How Much You Have But How Much You Can Give

I came across this video while surfing the web and it struck a chord deep inside me. I just had to share.

Click Here To Watch Video

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We often measure success or happiness by our wealth instead of the priceless values life has to offer. The son in this short film believes his dad is an unsuccessful man because he does not have a lot of money or a high-paying job. The son does not want to be poor like his father so he strives to be more successful by going away to college and later attaining a job that has him working long hours; for the son this was the definition of success. He represents a lot of people today that spend countless hours behind a desk collecting paychecks but not really living, it’s just the same routine day after day and society has made us believe that this is success. The son was so caught up with work that he missed family events and did not come to really appreciate his father until he passed away. He realized that his father was a selfless man appreciated by many for changing their lives and making their days brighter. The father may have not been rich in money but he was rich in life. He was a selfless man that gave to those that needed and did not have more than he needed for himself. He changed the lives of others and did so humbly. In the end he taught his son and all of us a lesson, that giving is true having and being rich is not about how much you have but how much you can give.

Songs For A Better Tomorrow

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono

Below are 55 songs that are meant to inspire; some inspire you to change the world, others inspire to make your day better, and some are just simply to let you know that you are not alone. This is a playlist for a better tomorrow, so pick and choose which ones you like and have a great “singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs” car ride tomorrow.

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  1. Waiting on the World to Change- John Mayer
  2. Say- John Mayer
  3. Dare You To Move- Switchfoot
  4. Keep Your Head Up- Andy Grammar
  5. Feeling Good- Nina Simone
  6. Count on Me- Bruno Mars
  7. Let Love Rule- Lenny Kravitz
  8. I Believe I Can Fly – R.Kelly
  9. Man in the Mirror- Michael Jackson
  10. Heal The World- Michael Jackson
  11. If Everyone Cared- Nickelback
  12. What’s Going On- Marvin Gaye
  13. We Are The World- Collaboration of Epic Stars
  14. Thats What Friends Are For- Dionne Warwick and Friends
  15. Why Can’t We Be Friends- War
  16. Peace Train- Cat Stevens
  17. My Wish- Rascal Flatts
  18. Live Like You Were Dying- Tim McGraw
  19. I Hope You Dance- Lee Ann Womack
  20. Live Your Life- T.I ft. Rihanna
  21. You’ve Got A Friend In Me- Randy Newman
  22. Walking On Sunshine- Katrina and the Waves
  23. True Colours- Cindy Lauper
  24. What a Feeling- Irene Cara
  25. Born This Way- Lady Gaga
  26. It’s a Beautiful Morning- The Rascals
  27. The Climb- Miley Cyrus
  28. Imagine-  John Lennon
  29. Give Peace a Chance- John Lennon
  30. If I Ruled The World- Nas feat Lauryn Hill
  31. Stand by Me- Ben E. King
  32. Get Up, Stand Up- Bob Marley
  33. One Love- Bob Marley
  34. Don’t Worry, Be Happy- Bobby McFerrin
  35. Wavin’ Flag- K’Naan
  36. Its My Life- Bon Jovi
  37. Not Afraid- Eminem
  38. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger- Daft Punk
  39. Beautiful Day- U2
  40. One- U2
  41. I Feel Good- James Brown
  42. Firework- Katy Perry
  43. Unwritten- Natasha Bedingfield
  44. When You Believe- Mariah Carey Ft. Whitney Houston
  45. Send it on- Disney Channel Stars
  46. Count on Me- Bruno Mars
  47. All You Need Is Love- The Beatles
  48. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
  49.  I’ve had the Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes 
  50. Ain’t no mountain high enough – Marvin Gaye
  51. Beautiful- Christina Aguilera
  52. Wind Beneath My Wings- Bette Middler
  53. You Raise Me Up- Josh Groban
  54. A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes- Kimberly Locke
  55. Express Yourself- Madonna

Love Comes in all Shapes and Sizes

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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

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Valentine’s Day is a day we express our feelings to those we love. Many people associate Valentine’s Day with romantic relationships, but in fact there are many different forms of love. There is love for oneself, love for family and friends, love for a pet, love for a cause, love for a feeling, ect. This Valentine’s day take the opportunity to send at least one of the billion cards mailed each year and make someone’s day. I made sure to mail heart shaped cards in pink envelopes to my grandparents, parents, and friends. In a study done by Soul Pancake showing appreciation towards someone actually increases our own happiness; so call it selfish if you want, but deliver that flower, make that call, or buy some cheesy chocolate box.

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There’s no need to attend that “Anti-Valentine’s Day” party, theres nothing to hate about today.  I use to be that “buhumbug” kind of person when it came to valentines day, I would pass the pharmacy isles trying not to look at all the “pointless pink” and “rubbish red”; but then I realized that even if I had no valentine I was still loved. Once I came to this realization  I felt so rude for abandoning the people that really love me on valentines day, like my family and friends.

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So show whoever or whatever you love that you mean it! Beacon of Hope’s love is for humanity, and we work every day to effect positive change in the world. We love what we do and who we do it for and we wish everyone of you that has helped us make this happen a Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Kids Who Make a Difference

Blare Gooch at age thirteen wisely said, “It doesn’t really matter how small or old you are, if you’re young and think you can’t make a big difference in the world, well you actually can.”

These words of wisdom prove to be true as told by the inspiring stories of these eight outstanding kids who have made a difference in their communities.

We often think we’re too insignificant to make a difference, and that our one and only, lonely action of kindness cannot change the world, but boy are we wrong. As I learned through the stories of these kids, we can do so much. Like Walt Disney once said “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” If these kids can do it, we have no excuses!

There’s so many different ways we can make an impact, leave a footprint, change the world. From performing dances, to collecting teddy bears to sewing blankets, these kids have all changed someone’s life.

We’ve almost all been at a Wal-Mart or Target during mid-August shopping for school supplies. Notebooks will cost 60 cents and backpacks 5 dollars. Jason and Tristan took that opportunity to start their organization “Backpacks for New Beginnings.” In 2009 alone they donated 400 backpacks; they believe that “To get good jobs and have a good life, you need a good education.”

Sometimes our charitable spirit comes from something intimate. For example, Winter Vinecki raised 10,000 dollars for prostate cancer research after her father was taken from her by this disease. Before that she had raised 1,100 dollars for cancer research. She did all of this between the ages of 8 and 9. She still continues to raise awareness through her nonprofit “Team Winter.”

These are just a couple of kids who have made a difference, but there are plenty more like them. It’s great to see kids learning and embodying the values of charity, kindness and spreading love and joy in the ways that they can. Our children are our future, and judging by these kids, our future is looking pretty bright!

‘Tis the Season

The holidays are said to be “the most wonderful time of the year” and most of us can agree on this. People seem jollier, weather feels nicer, and Christmas cheer surrounds us everywhere we go.

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The holiday season is filled with traditions unique to each culture and family. My favorite tradition that i share with my family has to be the day we put up the ornaments and bake holiday cookies while listening to christmas carols. This brings our family close together, even if it’s just for a couple of hours; between work, baseball practice, and me being away for college we find a way we can all hang out by decorating the tree and reminiscing on previous years.

A tradition familiar to us all is the opening of presents on Christmas morning. I remember as a kid falling asleep late, trying to stay awake to hear Santa’s reindeer on the roof and possibly sneak a peak at Saint Nicholas himself. I would wake up in the morning and run downstairs to find the cookies and milk nibbled and sipped, and underneath our Christmas tree, boxes of different sizes wrapped in holiday paper and ribbons. I would sit there not so patiently and make as much as “accidental” noise I could until my family woke up.

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to the realization that the magic of Christmas doesn’t necessarily wear a suit coated in red and yell “Ho-Ho-Ho”. This realization has made me want to make Christmas special for all the kids that have never experienced what I’ve been blessed to experience throughout my childhood growing up. For example, When Jorge told me about his idea to buy toys for 200 kids from our Climb to The Future program, I immediately made it my mission with help from family and friends to complete this goal.

When I heard we reached our goal it felt as if this could be the present to myself this year. Because I for sure don’t need anything, I am blessed enough to celebrate another year with my family in good health and spirit. Even though it was only 200 kids, any difference is a big difference in my book.That’s one of the main reasons I love Christmas. It is such a joyful holiday because of the spirit of giving. If it’s giving gifts to your family, participating in a Secret Santa with coworkers, or donating to your favorite charity, giving to others makes us feel good. It’s the do good, feel good kind of mood. 

“Make someone smile whenever you can, you never know how much of a difference you could be making in their life at that moment.” – Israa Ali.