Reading Club Helps Girls To Heal

IMG_1438 (1)

 

By Lena Dietz

ER’s Lena Dietz came to Quito, Ecuador, to use her gifts collecting and analyzing statistics to help ER be more productive. But along the way, she discovered her love of reading was something she enjoyed sharing with the girls being helped at an ER partner. Dunamis counsels and supports girls who have suffered through the painful experience of human trafficking. Here’s a little of what Lena learned through the reading club.

I started the Book Club for the Dunamis girls to share my love of reading with them. In Ecuador reading books is not very common even among middle class people.

I was pretty sure that most of these girls would never pick up a book on their own. And what a shame that would be! I know that the hundreds of books I have read in my life have been a bigger influence on me than anything else. These girls have had a limited number of positive influences in their lives, and organizations like Dunamis will only have a short period of time to influence them.

I felt that introducing them to reading was a way to expose them to the world outside of their small circles, to awaken their curiosity about the world, to allow them to see events from the point of view of the people in the book, and to discuss the choices and consequences people face. Most of the girls can read – some better than others – but the practice is still beneficial for them.

Also, reading builds their self confidence as they soon realize that everyone has trouble with the difficult words, and that books are meant for people like them. Books can help them get through tough times, and can teach them to make good choices. If they get nothing else out of the book club, they will at least know that they have read a book and, if they so choose, they can read a book in the future!

Learn more about Dunamis: http://www.extremeresponse.org/our-partners/the-americas#c5

Setting Students on a Path to Success

Path Project 4Jim Hollandsworth is the founder and executive director of The Path Project, an ER partner based in suburban Atlanta that seeks to help at-risk children close the achievement gap, graduate from high school, become productive members of society and “find the right path for their lives” through academic, social and spiritual development. Here Jim shares some encouraging success stories from The Path Project’s work in Atlanta and beyond.

One of our main goals for students who are part of the Path Project is that they would graduate high school with a plan for their future. For six years we’ve been focused on this goal. We’ve seen many of our students improve their grades at school, but we’ve also continued to see students struggle in middle and high school.

Through conversations with local and state education leaders, and families in the communities we serve, we’ve realized that a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school depends on their ability to read in elementary school. In fact, students who are reading on or above grade level by 3rd grade are 400 percent more likely to graduate high school than students who are reading below grade level.

In Georgia, Latino students have a 57 percent graduation rate, the lowest of any demographic in the state. The Mexican students in the communities we serve have an even lower graduation rate because of factors including poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and parents who didn’t complete high school.

Path Project 1In response to this research, we have partnered with an initiative by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal called “Get Georgia Reading,” the goal of which is to get low-income students in the state reading on or above grade level by 3rd grade. (Pictured at left are my wife, Melinda, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, state Board of Education representative Mike Royal and me at the statewide launch of this campaign.)

Last year we launched our own Literacy Program for K-2nd graders in the Gwinnett Estates mobile home park, aimed at increasing their exposure to reading and language every day after school. We began tracking the Kindergarteners who were part of that program last year and who were part of our preschool programs before that. By the end of last school year, 15 of 16 students were reading on or above grade level.

Path Project 2Knowing how important this is to long-term academic success, we are thrilled with these results! Our staff and volunteers have done an amazing job in leading this program at Gwinnett Estates, and now we’re expanding our model to other communities. One of the biggest challenges in Mexican immigrant communities is overcoming high dropout rates. Our goal is to change this trend, one community at a time, in Georgia and beyond.

In fact, we’re even starting to export this model internationally. Working with Ron and Amy Townsend in the ER South Africa office, we’ve been able to share some of these ideas for an after-school literacy program they are launching in January. It’s encouraging to see multiple ER partners work together to help at-risk kids learn to read!

Path Project 3In addition to the Literacy Program’s success, we’re excited about several more initiatives, programs and success stories from our communities:

  • Middle/High Leadership Academy: We’ve launched a pilot program in our largest community for students in grades 6 through 12 to help with academics, career exposure, college awareness, driver’s licenses and other life skills. Thirty students are part of this program.
  • Soccer League: In partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we are helping kids get professional soccer instruction, and more importantly, character training and relationship building with a coach each week. We’re seeing boys respond to this who have never been part of our programs before!
  • Summer Camps: We helped more than 200 students attend camps this past summer, including FCA Soccer Camp (120 students) and our own Path Project Big Camp (140 students).
  • High School Graduates: This year we’ll see four of our students from the Gwinnett Estates community graduate from high school. This is significant because historically the dropout rate in these communities has been really low. In fact, over the past six years, we know of only four students total from Gwinnett Estates who have graduated high school. We’ve known each of these current seniors since they were in 6th grade, and it’s been a joy to walk with them as they purse this goal of graduation.

To learn more about The Path Project, visit www.path-project.org.

Paul Cripps: Faithful Leader, Lover of People, Life-Changer

Malawi2

By Tim Fausch, ER Communications

There are many ways to measure the value of one’s life on earth, but perhaps the greatest is to consider the lasting impact he or she has on those they encounter.

Aranas | Photography2014-10Paul Cripps, co-founder of ER Canada with his best friend and wife Linda, was someone who had a life-changing impact on the people he touched. Soft-spoken, thoughtful and selfless, Paul was a friend and encourager to people wherever they were in their life journey. And when he met people who were poor, sick, uneducated, abused, abandoned or oppressed, he showed them deep compassion and love.

Consider these words from Paul, shared on an ER video:

“I have had the privilege of spending time in all three of our regions and have witnessed first hand many stories of changed lives. There is nothing more impactful than spending time in a squatter village, or picking up a street kid in need of a hug.”

ER CEO Jerry Carnill shared Paul’s willingness to battle through obstacles in order to serve others:

Paul & Linda“Paul  set an example for all of us on many levels. He loved his wife, kids and grandkids with all of his heart, yet he also set aside personal comforts to help people in extreme situations. During the past several months Paul served others in extreme heat, with very little sleep while living with physical pain due to sickness. His legacy will live on through the lives of people across the globe.”

Paul did much more than show compassion. He and Linda turned their concern for others into a life mission. They focused everything they had on helping people in very tangible ways.

Russ Cline, ER’s Chief Advancement Officer, recently profiled Paul and Linda’s strategic use of their time and resources in the Leader Mundial eNewsletter:

_DSC1771“But the biggest thing they have leveraged has been their lives. Not only do they serve the staff, partners and ER family around the world, but they have invested their lives in relationship. They have visited, they have served, they have helped set vision, they have coached, they have explored, they have listened, they have come alongside so many of us (I speak for many) and just helped us to do better.”  Read Russ’ blog here.

 

DSC_0169Paul impacted people around the world, including many ER partners who are on the front lines working to help people living in distress. Pierre Rioux,  Director of ATAIM, an ER partner that serves indigent people in South Africa, shared this:

“Paul’s approach to life was a huge example to me. He always put others first, in spite of how he felt physically. He never wanted people to know he was suffering. Paul was a true leader that I plan to imitate. I hope I can be half the leader he was.”

IMG_1308ER’s Asia Region Director, Joshua Benavidez, shared this regarding Paul:

“A big guy with a big heart. Thank you Paul for everything you have done for us and the people whom we love so much, especially the kids. You will be greatly missed. You will always be in our hearts.”

Paul and ER Canada were big supporters of the programs in Haiti run by ER partners Lemuel and House of Hope. This Facebook post by the folks at Lemuel captured Paul and Linda’s impact in Haiti:

“Paul Cripps was known and loved by all of us. He had a genuinely compassionate, servant’s heart and we are grateful for all the ways in which he touched our lives and served Lemuel through ER Canada.”

Aranas | Photography2014-10Paul and Linda led volunteer teams to help at-risk people around the globe, introducing hundreds to the concept of serving others cross-culturally. Paul was tireless in his dedication, working long hours at their auto dealership only to come home and work just as hard for ER Canada.

Led by his strong faith, Paul strived to bring hope to the hopeless. Those who knew him would say, “Well done faithful servant, well done.”

Author’s note. It’s rare when you meet people you immediately love and trust. That’s what took place when my wife Deb and I first met Paul and Linda. We saw their character, compassion, selflessness, generosity and willingness to sacrifice and we were inspired. We wanted to be more like them…and still do. Thank you Paul and Linda for living lives that are authentic, and for helping show the way.

The notice below was published by the Jason Smith Funeral Chapel and provides details on Paul’s family and life.

CRIPPS, Paul Kenneth (1959 – 2015) – surrounded by his loving family and promoted to the arms of his Lord & Saviour, at the Norfolk General Hospital on Sunday, September 20th, 2015 in his 57th year.  Cherished husband and best friend of Linda Cripps (nee Armstrong) of Simcoe.  Loving father & grandfather of Nicole La Porte (Aaron) of Waterford, their sons Jacob & Evan;  and David Cripps (Angel) of Simcoe, their son Benjamin.  Beloved son of Ronald Cripps (late Violet) of Simcoe.  Paul will be lovingly remembered by his brother Carl Cripps (Lenny) of Caronport, Saskatchewan, their children Daniel, Samuel & Deborah.  Dearly loved son-in-law of Elsa Armstrong (late Lawrence).  Together Paul & Linda own and operate Aitken Chevrolet Buick GMC.  Always a passion for serving others, Paul served as Chair, Vice Chair & Past Chair of the Norfolk General Hospital Foundation Board, was a member of the Simcoe Gospel Chapel and was the Canadian Founder & Director of Extreme Response Canada, a charity organization committed to changing the lives of people by providing humanitarian aid to those living in extreme, often life-threatening, poverty stricken situations.  Friends are invited to share their memories of Paul with his family at the JASON SMITH FUNERAL CHAPEL, 689 Norfolk St. North Simcoe for visitation on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 from 2-4 & 7-9 p.m. and again on Wednesday morning from 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. at the Simcoe Gospel Chapel, Hwy#3 East Simcoe.  Paul’s home going service will be held in the church sanctuary at 11:00 a.m. with Pastor Martin Brown officiating.  Interment:  Oakwood Cemetery, Simcoe.  In lieu of flowers, those wishing to donate in memory of Paul are asked to consider Extreme Response Canada.  Personal online condolences at www.smithfuneralchapel.com (519) 426-0199.

Panty Project To Help Women in Poverty

By Kelly McClelland, ER Director of Women’s Advocacy

Imagine digging through the garbage on a daily basis for recyclable items likes plastic, cardboard, glass and metal to earn your living. Now imagine surviving off of what you uncover in the garbage by selling what you find, eating IMG_3301leftover food, and reusing any goods you find, including underwear. For many families living near the Zambiza dump in Quito, Ecuador, this is their reality.

Last year when I toured the dump, I noticed the deplorable situation many workers face. The conditions are oppressive and can appear hopeless. Women are using dirty underwear, making themselves vulnerable to diseases that could not only affect them physically, but also their livelihood. They struggle to get medications because they might miss work to visit a doctor.  They cannot afford the medications without working. It perpetuates the cycle of defeat.

The Panty Project was born out of this great need. The project aims to provide fresh, clean underwear for women PP logoand children. It’s but one small step in helping to break the cycle of poverty. This September, our Women’s Advocacy team has set a goal to provide 100 women and children with underwear for 2016.

When I put my several pairs of clean underwear in my drawer after doing laundry, I’m reminded that women globally don’t have this luxury. The Panty Project is something so simple, yet so positive. A pair of undergarments really does make a world of difference to these girls!

Would you consider helping us this fall? $50 provides underwear for one woman or child for an entire year. If you would like to help, visit our donation page and designate your gift “WA Panty Project”.

KellyTo learn more about Women’s Advocacy, email Kelly McClelland at kmcclelland@extremeresponse.org or visit http://www.extremeresponse.org/our-programs/womens-advocacy.