Past Grant Winners

2016 Grant Recipients

Chamalea Thị Phường_hope

1. Catalyst Foundation Community Education Center
Ninh Thuan, Vietnam $2500 Grant for Project Backpack

This small, desperately poor village hamlet contains a tiny minority group: the Raglai. They are 100 families with 177 children who face debilitating discrimination. There is malnutrition and a low level of education. As a result, the children are at high risk of being trafficked.

Our grant will enable ten children to attend school. We will be providing them with school materials, a bike to get to and from school, food and routine check ups with a clinic/doctor.

2. Mission for African Mothers, (MAM)
Kampala, Uganda $3990 for
Single Expectant Mothers Economic Empowerment Project

Last year, we supported MAM’s efforts to help new mothers, ages fifteen to thirty, create a decent, sustainable future for themselves and their families. They live in the shanti towns in the Kawempe division on the outskirts of Kampala. One of our partners, Finance Trust, trained them in business management, entrepreneurship and loan management. The twenty women created a joint business of tailoring, making uniforms. The profits were then divided among them.

They also taught the skills they had learned making paper beads, necklaces and baskets to other girls and women. Now more than fifty are involved in the work.
More and more want to participate.

The knowledge obtained from tailoring as a business model will now be replicated in starting individual small businesses. Some of the mothers chose to invest their money into their own business plans; others chose to invest in their children’s education. In addition, our women are learning to save for the future.

Going forward, we are providing the supplies, materials and tools to enable the women to expand from tailoring into liquid soap making and cake baking. There will be continued micro-loans and insurance for the babies.

3. Philippines Humanitarian
$1000 schooling of five children

Philippines Humanitarian (PH), an all-volunteer, certified non-profit organization, was brought together by the common desire of private citizens to provide educational scholarships and opportunities for disadvantaged children and their families in impoverished areas of the Philippines. One important component of the scholarship program with Philippines Humanitarian is that many of the scholars come back after graduating to volunteer the foundation. In fact, the current librarian/caretaker of the community library was once a scholar of the foundation.


Rhealyn Iya Mae de Leon (center, back row) is 11 years old and a 4th grade student. She wants to become an English teacher. She is shown here with her grandmother, her mother, and her two younger siblings.

The Jewish Helping Hands grant money will be used towards helping children in the Payatas Community. Extreme poverty, crime, drugs, poor sanitation, and precarious employment are the primary community concerns. A distinguishing feature of the area is the Payatas Dumpsite,
the largest open dumpsite in the Philippines. Most of the Payatas residents earn a living either as garbage scavengers, construction workers, or drivers. In 2000, a massive trash-slide triggered by heavy rains buried thousands of homes and took many lives.

The students who go to Payatas Elementary School live in the area immediately surrounding the Payatas dumpsite and come from very poor families. While education is free in the Philippines, many students lack the money for school-related expenses. Jewish Helping Hands is awarding a grant of $5,000 to sponsor 5 children over the course of 5 years ($200 per child per year). The money these children receive will enable them to purchase uniforms, books, school supplies, and shoes.

2015 Grant Recipients

1. Mission for African Mothers, Uganda

Nathan is the 24-year-old volunteer, full-time Director of MAM (Mission for African Mothers – pronounced, of course, Mom. He heads a totally volunteer staff.

Nathan Advertising MAM

Nathan Advertising MAM

Our $5000 partnership with MAM is a two-pronged project called Single Expectant Mothers Economic Empowerment Program. One part focuses on the health and well-being of the future newborns by providing a year of free medical care. The other is a full-blown micro-finance training program, including vocational training in three areas (tailoring, hair-dressing and handicrafts) and culminating in $80, interest-free, loans to be repaid.

This will be its second year, after a successful one in which all were repaid, to be used for additional loans. The training has begun with the receipt of our grant and the possibility of additional funds from a Canadian partner.

Our MAM Mothers

Our MAM Mothers

There are 20 expectant mothers in our group, chosen from the five slum areas on which MAM focuses. What businesses would they like to create? Twenty hands are raised: a jewelry store, a stationery shop, a cosmetics/bookstore, a hardware store and a restaurant that would serve every kind of food from sushi (!) to spaghetti to hamburgers!

The Center will provide a homemade lunch as well as computer training. They have only two computers. We have three more for them but need to find someone coming to Uganda who can bring them in. Any ideas?

2. Family Promise Carbon County, Philadelphia

Located in the nearby Pocono region of Pennsylvania, Family Promise of Carbon County aids homeless and low income families by providing shelter, meals and living essentials.  Since the organization began in 2011, 28 families have gone through the program, including 37 adults and 25 children.  Family Promise maintains a guest house that provides a home base for the current program guests during the days, and local partners such as churches and community centers provide overnight housing as well as dinners.

The goal of the organization is to return the participating families to a stable home environment, allowing guests to stay in the program for a maximum of 90 days.  As a part of the program, guests participate in life skills courses, learning skills in money management, legal aid, and home economics among others.  Through the efforts of the small but dedicated staff and board, families who go through the program are able to move on to a permanent housing situation in an average of 50 days!

3. Light of Esperanza (Hope) – LOE – Honduras (Year 2)

We are continuing our very productive partnership with Shmuel and his extended family in Honduras.

Growing Corn

Growing Corn

After a most successful project teaching poorly educated teens how to create and run a corn cooperative, we are now enabling LOE to create a similar program in Jose del Basque for a group of women to establish a cooperative tilapia fish pond project ($1650).

Fish ponds were chosen because they had been most successful in the past. “It really does work and I think it is a great first initiative in any new village,” wrote Jason, a member of our Committee who visited there.

The grant will also continue to cover school scholarships for two teens, Delmer and Melvin, to enable them to complete their last year of secondary school. ($1000)

Melvin Studying

Melvin Studying

Here is part of a letter that Delmer sent to us:

Thank you Jewish Helping Hands for your help in our studies. With my grades, I am doing very good in the five subjects and have received the following grades: Science (90%), Technical Drawing (94%), Social Studies (98%), Civics (95%), and the Special Project (93%). 

I want you to know that it is an honor to work (represent) your organization, to belong to a group that is fighting to help improve the life of so many people. Thank you.”

4. Rez Refuge Ministries – Arizona – $2500 (Year 2)

The Ft. Defiance neighborhood continues to need the Youth Fellow program because it needs people who believe that good things can come from what they have there. When they find young people who have that hope and vision, they provide them with an incentive to step in and be leaders.

In a streamlined version of last summer’s project, 3 Youth Fellows will be paid summer interns who work closely with the programming team to plan and execute summer programming for children and teenagers. They will receive leadership development training, workshops on poverty, power, and community organizing, and build close relationships with the adult team and one another that will help build their confidence, academic achievement, and influence in the neighborhood.

The Rez teenagers need to be challenged. The Youth Fellow program provides jobs for them in a town with a 57 percent unemployment rate. The program also helps by creating more community ownership of Rez Refuge among young people.

Ultimately, the Youth Fellow program is about community involvement, youth representation on the team, and youth power to make change. It is a laboratory for social change. It creates a refuge for their ideas and helps them realize those dreams. In a town where most residents fear our neighborhood, Rez Refuge is demonstrating that beauty and growth can come from what looks to be dangerous and in decay. The Youth Fellows help to do just that.

2014 Grant Recipients

1.Hunger Relief International – HRI – Guatemala (Year 2)*
(* See the 2013 winners for a fuller description.)

We were hoping to be part of finding a permanent solution to the rural La46 community’s continuing water shortage, but there were too many obstacles in the way.

Instead, we are continuing to supply water filters as well as weekly delivery of trucks filled with water ($75 per week) to be matched by the Mayor. This will meet the full water needs of 100’s of people

La46 Women with water jugs

La46 Women with water jugs

We will also pay for the fabrication of twelve additional, safe stoves ($250 each), including stove pipes to remove the smoke and fumes from the residents’ homes.

“HRI is very appreciative for the partnership with JHH and the opportunity to reach more children and families with life-saving projects that help communities on their journey towards a better future. The wonderful people of La 46 constantly express their gratitude and commitment towards these projects.”

We have just learned, May, 2015, that HRI

“has been working with the Mayor of Cuilapa, the Government of Guatemala, the Embassy of Spain and now the Catholic Church on a large water project that will provide consistent and regular water to La 46 and to neighboring Los Chilitos. It is still a challenge but we have made tremendous headway in the last year and hopefully we will see the project take off in the next 6-8 months.”

This is the perfect conclusion to our work there!

2. Rez Navaho Reservation Community Center – Arizona

The Rio Puerco Center at Fort Defiance in the reservation was restored and transformed into a real gathering place only within the last two years, as the role of the gangs diminished. The community is desperately poor with 34% living below the poverty level; 57% of those 16 and older unemployed; and

only 37% of those over age 25 having completed high school.

The challenge is very great and motivating the teens to come to the Center’s programs and just to look up and make eye contact is a daunting task.

The goals are to increase the teens’ pride in being Navaho and in their very rich culture, to encourage them to treat each other as equals and to expand their horizons beyond their current comfort level. They also hope to involve the parents in the process as a positive, support group for their children. This will not be easy to accomplish.

The teens see the Center as a home away from home, a safe, welcoming place for them. Without the Center’s programs, they have little to do beyond electronics, skate-boarding, and drug use.

The plan is to expand last summer’s program to draw in some 40 teens. The focus will be on community engagement and Navaho culture as well as encouraging the participants to take more control of their own lives and futures.

JHH will fund the special leadership training program for five teen Youth Fellows. Under the able direction of Daniel, the Youth Center Director, they will gain skills leading them to become more independent and to take on more responsibility for their own lives and for community activities. They will also serve as leaders for the regular summer programs. And they will receive stipends.

They will participate in critical consciousness-raising training as well as discussions about who has the power – economic and political – in their community and how they can have and exercise power of their own, e.g., through voting, beautification programs and petitions for change, etc.

The limestone mountains surrounding the area are so magnificently uplifting. We can only hope that they will raise the vision and the hopes of these teens who struggle to create a meaningful life here.

3. Light of Esperanza (Hope) – LOE – Honduras

Our scholarships for secondary education for Delmer and Melvin continued without a formal grant.

The Corn Cooperative was in full operation without additional subsidy funding from JHH.

The Corn Cooperative Boys

The Corn Cooperative Boys

(A second year proposal was accepted in 2015. See above.)

2013 Grant Recipients

Guatemala and Honduras

Cookies, Water, Stoves and Corn

“There is not even water to drink!” (Numbers 20:5)

In January, Rabbi Soffin went with Suzanne and Sean, young members of our Grant-making Committee, to visit the 2013 grant recipients in Guatemala and Honduras.

In Guatemala City, we met with Chuck of Plenty International who showed us how they were providing nutritious, high-protein cookies and soy drinks. We watched hundreds children and the elderly, who live above the old dump, come happily to the Center to receive them. Everyone was treated with loving care as members of the family.

We were told that we were the first group to go to Guatemala ourselves to see the situation there.

Open Fire Cooking

Indoor Open-Fire Cooking

Later, Efrain of Hunger Relief International (HRI) drove us to the village of LA46, an extremely poor area, inhabited by some 160 families, 600 people. There we met with several of the women. We had already decided to fund 20 fuel- efficient stoves and stove pipes. So we asked the women: “How can we help you?” To our surprise, they said: “Water. We have no water.”

The rainy season there is short, and this year there was no rain at all. There is a polluted stream miles away. Sometimes, the Mayor sends a tank full of water to them. Two tanks a week is enough, but he had sent only one two weeks before and then none last week. So, indeed, they had no water and like the Israelites in the Wilderness, they said: there is not even water to drink!

So we made an arrangement with the Mayor: if he would send one tank each week, JHH would pay for the second one. And, we would pay for 10 stoves, each one to be shared by two or three families. Now there would be much less wood needed (which they have to buy) and many fewer children and women suffering and dying from respiratory problems and burns, caused by the smoke of the indoor open fires. The Mayor quickly agreed, and now there is water in LA46.

After Suzanne’s return visit in July, HRI is proposing for 2014 a long-term solution to the water problem with our help and that of the Mayor. The Grant-making committee will make the final decision.

New Stove

New Efficient Stoves

From Guatemala, we flew to Honduras and met Angela, who, with her husband Shmuel, founded Light of Esperanza (Hope). She brought us to the village of Vega Redonda, where she was born and where her family still lives. We met the young boys, ages 13 to 17, who would join together to create a Corn Cooperative, under the direction of adults from the village. After a three year training, they would be helped to create their own corn business.

Corn Cooperative - Vega Redonda

First Corn Crop

As Shmuel later wrote to us, “the youth of the Cooperative are the pride of Vega Redonda! Everyone is talking about how incredible it is that they have this thriving business! Despite their young age, they have easily absorbed all of the agricultural and entrepreneurial advice provide by our organization, and have demonstrated that they are more than capable to manage a successful business enterprise.“

None of these young men had more than a sixth grade education, having to stop their studies to work on the coffee farms and to do other meager income-generating activities. It would be possible for some of them to continue their studies on the weekends in a special enrichment program. We are subsidizing the annual per student school costs of $500 for each of two students, Delmar and Melvin. (Interviews with Melvin and the four others on the cooperative are at middle of the Light of Esperanza website.)



Delmer commented that he knows that he will have a bright future upon completion of his studies, and is focused on a professional career in business administration. He is very excited to study computers – as he has never before had the chance to use one, and has only seen one from a distance. Delmer also remarked that ever since Jewish Helping Hands came to visit Vega Redonda in January of 2013, he has been very excited to learn English so that the next time that we visit he will be able to communicate with us.

How To Help This Program:

Guatemala: Enable more safe stoves to be built ($250 each) or clean water to be available to poor women and their families. ($2500/year)

Honduras: Provide an annual scholarship for Delmar or Melvin ($500 each) or contribute to the cost of the Corn Cooperative ($1500/year).

Show these youth that we are eager to help them create a better future for themselves, their families and their community.