The Good News Project: The Children's Home

By: Jonalee Merkel Email
By: Jonalee Merkel Email

You've probably heard of the Good News Project.

That's the place that recycles your old computers, microwaves, and other items that aren't picked up curbside.

But did you know about all the good news those items bring to people of the West Indies?

"Many children in St. Lucia find themselves at the disadvantage, socially disadvantaged because parents are much younger than they used to be, without further support systems in place," says Sister Marie Therese, who oversees the Children's Home.

If it's something you're used to seeing, it's hard to see that the problem exists.

But for Peggy and Chuck McCarthy, spending time in a developing nation far away from their Wausau, Wisconsin home, the misfortune many St. Lucians faced was obvious.

"About 12 years ago they came to the Dominican Sisters expressing their sadness at the situation of .... children who were abandoned," says Sister Marie Therese.

But they didn't stop there.

"About 12 years ago Good News gave birth to the idea," she says.

With plans they had drawn on a napkin, the founders of the Good News Project asked the Dominican Sisters if they would run a home for orphans.

"We decided ok, well, why not," she says.

And before you knew it, the Children's Home was born.

Good News and the Archdiocese of Castries pulled resources together and got a property for the orphanage, equipment for the home and donations to sponsor the children.

But of course, that's not all they've done to help St. Lucia's underprivileged children.

Good News actually remains really active with the Children's Home. Every year they come and do activities that help enhance the children's lives. Recently they started taking them to the beach, which believe it or not, is something they don't get to do all that often.

"Four years ago was my first time here in St. Lucia and we went to the Children's Home and played with the kids and it was great fun to play with the kids and then I asked do the kids every get to the beach and the answer was no," says Mary Zaborski, Good News Project volunteer.

Well, that changed the following year, and began the tradition of giving these disadvantaged kids one day to do what most North Central Wisconsin do practically every summer day -- tame hot weather,with cool water and refreshing ice cream.

The Dominican Sisters say the children's home is something St. Lucians can no longer do without.

But unfortunately, the orphanage is now overcapacity, and struggling to serve the needs of all the children they care for.

Today, the Children's Home has 21 youth.

"The work of sensitizing the St. Lucian public to the plight of those children and the need to either foster or adopt children who come through the home has not been as successful as we had anticipated," says Sister Marie Therese, who oversees the Children's Home.

That's led to the orphanage outgrowing their original facilities.

"Right now, because the first building that is on the property was not constructed for that purpose, it's grossly inadequate," says Sister Marie Therese.

They're just over capacity, with each small room housing four kids.

And for older kids, the lack of personal space, or even their own storage just isn't cutting it.

"Because of the demand that there is to take children who are in need, at least for a short period of time, we have plans to extend the home," she says.

The problem with expanding comes down to one thing -- money.

The estimated cost of expanding the home and renovating the current one is about $300,000.

The Children's Home has a difficult enough time raising the $8,000 they need a month to pay staff.

So for now, the orphanage is looking for ways to become self-sufficient.

They've already opened a resale shop where they sell donated items.

And they're hoping to soon turn their standard kitchen into one meeting industrial standards, so they can open a bakery.

"We wish that we could meet the need of every child in St. Lucia, especially. And hopefully to extend to the rest of the Caribbean who need somebody to love and to care for them."

Sister Marie Therese shared the orphanage's struggles with a group of Good News volunteers last month.

They were so touched by all the orphanage had accomplished, they donated more than $8,000 to the Children's Home.


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