Dear ACE Family;
I am writing to let you know that, for a period of time, I will be stepping away from my position as ACE Stateside Child Sponsorship Coordinator. This is necessary due to some health issues that I am currently dealing with. If you think of me, I would appreciate your prayers. The Lord has already answered many prayers regarding my situation and we know that He will continue to move. He is in control!
During the time that I am away, please know that you will be in good hands. Many of you may know ACE’s wonderful previous intern Beth (Barnett) Pitts. Beth has graciously agreed to step in and handle the Child Sponsorship program while I am off. THANK YOU, Beth! We appreciate you very much!
At this time, I do not know the exact date of when I will be returning, but I looked forward to reconnecting with you when I do.
God bless you all!
In Christ Love,
Most of you know about the wellness side of ACE. It’s one of the four impact areas of ACE where we focus on physical wellness in our communities. This month was extra special as we had some old friends of ACE return with Buckie the Tooth Giraffe. They performed fluoride treatments in our primary schools and our newest partner, Edge Hill, our special needs school. What a great time! Dr. Frank, a former Chairman of ACE, returned with his brother Dr. Bill and their dental team to work non-stop at our Wellness Center using the new equipment a friend donated earlier this year. “The new dental chairs and units are fantastic!” was the general comment by all. The week ended with over 400 students being treated with fluoride and over 190 community friends served in the chairs.
While the dentists were busy filling and extracting teeth, the medical side of our wellness initiative was taking on other challenges, both inside and outside our wellness center. Dr. David and Dr. Alice from Trinity On The Hill and their team saw and treated over 100 community friends daily. With water supply being low in the areas where the doctors were working, it took a lot of extra effort to make it work. It makes us feel great when we have such continued support, especially when we see our numbers for extended care in the districts actually go down as a result of continued care.
Thank you to Trinity, Dr. David, Dr. Frank and all the workers and providers that gave their time away from home to help us in Jamaica this fall.
When Amanda, one of our newest board members, rolled on the ACE board this year to serve, the first thing she and her husband, Digger, requested to do was to provide Summer School for our Second Story students in the Child Sponsorship Program.
I have never seen our students so excited as I did this summer, as I watched our eager teenagers coming early each day to attend class. You see, Amanda, Digger and their team of teachers have a unique way of teaching topics that make anyone want to learn. And learning is exactly what these students did. Amanda put an entire mystery together for the students to figure out how to find the thief who stole Ms. Shirley’s cookbook.
Even Mr. Moncrieffe had fun! Every day as I passed him leaving in the parking lot, he just shook his head with a big smile and said, “Wow! What a great day. I’m learning so much about making subjects fun for students. We hope this is just the beginning.”
Thank you to Amanda and her team and to all for investing in this wonderful 30-year-old ministry called ACE — where the learning never stops and we always find the fun!
Always grateful for you,
Marla and Allen
Special needs schools are rare in Jamaica. However, in St. Mary, there is a special needs school near the ACE campus. It’s called Edge Hill, and ACE has had a student in our Child Sponsorship Program attending school there for two years. Just the other day, we learned that the school was in need of a gas stove for training students to cook. Without a second thought, ACE jumped at the opportunity to give back to this school that is making a difference in St. Mary to those less fortunate. We bought a beautiful gas stove with a full oven. As the ACE staff was taking it off the truck and unpacking it, we saw the smile of the Vice Principal, Mrs. Charmaine Palmer Lee as she helped point to the location of install.
Thank you all for your treasure. This is one of the many reasons why we do what we do. It makes a difference.
ACE has been sponsoring students for almost eight years now. We started with a few kids in the neighborhood that really needed help with food, clothing, books, taxi and shoes. Speeding forward, we now have close to 250 elementary and kindergarten students coming out of our communities of Hampstead, Galina, Water Valley, Mason Hall, and Heywood Hall.
The one-year commitment we originally made has quickly turned into a lifetime of learning and relationships between Jamaican families and their American sponsors. Even Allen and I have developed a special relationship with the families of our sponsored children, especially one in particular. Tahjebe, son of ACE’s own Lorna from Green Life Farms, is now on his way to the Caribbean Maritime University, a prestigious college in Kingston that has a 100% placement rate. Watching Tahj grow from a skinny little boy in Primary school to a skinny college man (smile) is a great marker to how this program prepares our students for future academic success.
This is Tahj’s last summer with ACE as he is preparing to enter the University and live on campus next month. Lorna, Tahj, and I were sitting around the kitchen table a few nights ago, reminiscing about Tahj as a child and how proud we are to be part of his life. Of course, his mother started crying and then Tahj got embarrassed – a typical mother/son relationship. She has always had big dreams for him, and now he is ready to find them for himself. Tahj wants to be a Ship Captain, which seems very achievable to me.
For those of you who sponsor students with ACE, we’d love to know the stories behind your child and how your stories have impacted your lives. Allen and I, while we don’t have children of our own, truly feel like we have a whole bunch of kids around us growing up fast. We are all making a difference in young lives, some here at home and some right next door.
What’s your story?? We would love to know!
~ Blessings, Marla & Allen
Yes, it’s that time of year again – Vacation Bible School! Each week in July, teams come down to Jamaica to help ACE facilitate VBS in the four communities we serve. Most of the time, the VBS location is the local public school where our Child Sponsorship Students attend. We find that by holding this one-week-a-year Spiritual Outreach program in a public environment verses a church, we attract more children and can refrain from being “branded” in a community as being “those church people”.
Many times, people who live close to ACE-partner schools have been hurt in some way or know of a family member who has been hurt by someone who has attended church, leaving a negative connotation of religion and a bad taste for any Biblical programs. ACE has been successful in reaching these families through this annual program. By not being affiliated with a church yet teaching Biblical principles, ACE has had a great response to the VBS programs we operate, thanks to our ACE partners in the States. Thank you, July VBS teams, for making this our 30th year of outreach!
ACE sponsored the high school boys’ volleyball team at Oracabessa High School last year. Following a close win for first place, Mr. Moncrieffe, our PE/Education teacher for ACE, introduced volleyball to our primary schools with the hope that some will be promoted to a higher level of competition when moving to secondary education.
Just learning to serve has its challenges, but with Mr. Moncrieffe leading the team, everyone gets charged to learn. Get ready for some competition when you visit us for PE. We are ready to SERVE!
Who would know more about that than professional canners? With so many of our sponsored families lacking in refrigeration, preserving whole foods is a key ingredient to growth and development in children. Many of our homes simply lack electricity, and when they do have it, it’s “borrowed” from a neighbor. A few years ago, ACE began looking into teaching canning in Jamaica.
As most programs go with ACE, it takes a few years to develop into a full-blown plan. In this case, that’s partly because Jamaica doesn’t know anything about canning food nor does the ACE staff. We all grew up with wonderful grandparents and parents that canned, but somehow our culture didn’t move forward with that expertise. But times are changing – just take a look at these pictures! The men made the shelves and the ladies taught canning. It was wonderful!
We learned to can whole chicken, soups, beets, vegetables… and the best part is they can last up to two years on a shelf! All the mother has to do it open the lid, heat it up, and it’s a full meal for her family and children. Thank you, Castine, Bethel, and Ringgold, for getting us off and running. More next month on our foodbank and how you can get involved.
Many of you will remember when ACE first began the outreach program of sponsoring children in St. Mary. These were children who simply could not attend school because of many economic challenges ranging from no uniform to wear, shoes with holes, persistent hunger and sleeping only on the floor or on a mattress shared by many.
Then something great happened: one by one, child by child, family by family, you – our stateside volunteers – stepped up and said, “We can help!” And help you did. Our “Sponsor a Child” program started with only four students. A decade later, ACE is now changing an entire community with over 230 students attending school full-time and is growing stronger every day, thanks to you, our wonderful supporters, who believe in living simply so others can simply live.
This month, we are highlighting just a few of the impact areas that your continuous investment into ACE has made in our communities, starting with the basics: homes…
“Is that a house or a chicken coop?”
…was what one of the ACE guests asked me when we were walking up to a child’s home. Of course, he was sincere, as I had not pointed out exactly where we were going. “Well,” I said, “it’s going to be a chicken coop as soon as ACE builds them their new home.” Everyone following behind me fell silent as we walked within earshot of the family coming towards us.
With awkwardness, the family greeted us, and – eager to help – began carrying whatever they could to help set up the water coolers and haul the shovels and tools needed to start. One by one, day by day, volunteer by volunteer, a house began to emerge. And the family kept working. Every day when we arrived, mom and dad were the first ones we saw getting ready for our arrival, and when we had to leave, they were the last to say goodbye while putting tools away for the next day.
Many people ask how do we decide who gets a home? It’s easy. The sponsor of the children lets us know that they would like to help with certain projects outside of the normal monthly fee to send their child to school. We get the news from our stateside office, send our construction team out, led by Bullah, and we price out the material, minus the labor. Then we wait…
Generally within a week, we will hear back as to what a sponsor can supply in the way of funds. Many times, ACE contributes through the help of others who want to be a part of the change. And then we start. Our volunteer teams arrive and work begins. This is what happened in January and this month, when teams came down to generously offer their talents of labor and skill.
Already in 2018, we can say thank you for making a huge difference in five families’ lives!
We can dance, we can play, we can sing…. so the storyline goes! With a very successful Christmas party and art camp, ACE finished the year with a bang in Jamaica.
Last year, if you remember, Sondra from First Christian Church from Stillwater brought her team of young adults to Jamaica and launched the first ART camp for students on school break. It went so well that we had to do it again. This time, however, we had another longtime friend of ACE add her team to the mix – Tina and her students from Rebel Ministries. From Art Camp to the Christmas party, we were absolutely in awe as both leaders and teams came together to give our sponsored and non-sponsored students a great week of fun.
Speaking of the Christmas party, ACE tried something this year that wasn’t exactly a spiritual part of ACE – Santa Claus! Here is where middle-class American thinking met Jamaican traditions. When our sponsored students walked in and saw this brown-skinned man with a white beard in a red suit sitting by their presents, hesitation grabbed them. They stood and stared, wondering who this person was and what was he doing at their party.
While the experience went well, we quickly learned that Christmas without Santa will do just fine next year. Let’s keep the reason for the season and not add to the story. It was another learning moment for ACE and our volunteers, and, ultimately, a good time was had by all! Thank you, Child Sponsors, for sending your love. Perhaps you can come down sometime and enjoy the moments you create for your students and us with your support!