Nourished Hearts' flagship program, The Island of Hope, started with a meeting in Yuzhny, Ukraine, in October of 2015. Two single mom's came to a local social worker, Stepan Kojsa, desperate for programming for their young children. Photo of Stepan, Kim de Blecourt and two young families during the meeting.
Rooms for the programming were obtained at Bethel Baptist Church. Volunteer teams were preparing to begin visiting the Petrovirivka orphanage that Christmas. The two programs joined.
The Island of Hope was born.
In early 2016, we began cleaning and preparing the rooms offered by the local church.
Equipment was purchased to facilitate the programming.
Staff members and volunteers were selected and trained.
On May 1, 2016, The Island of Hope opened its doors.
In 2017, fundraising became a full-time concern for all of our staff and volunteers. Different fundraising events are held throughout the year for The Island of Hope.
We were able to treat a small group of orphans to the Carpathian Mountains for 10 days of hiking, swimming, fishing and small group time to enjoy nature beyond orphanage walls. This event was life-changing for many children, and has become an annual event. In 2019, we were able to take two trips into the mountains for the benefit of 50 children!
Since 2015, our dedicated group of volunteers take Christmas to the orphanage. Playing ""Father Snow" to children who would otherwise go without any Christmas observation at all is a gift in itself to us.
In 2017, the number of our staff and volunteers grew. Such beautiful hearts for all children...
In 2018, we started to incorporate Field Trips to Odessa into our programming. Many entertainment venues offered us free tickets (we supplied the supervision and transportation). This 3D movie was a first for every child from the orphanage.
The Mercy (mobile dental office) Trucks made visits to our Island of Hope Center and to Petrovirivka orphanage in 2018. over 100 children received cleanings, fillings and tooth removals. We are so grateful to our benefactors. We also had vision checkups for over 100 children, and five received necessary glasses.
2018 brought Christmas joy to the children of the orphanage once again. They are pictured with our executive director in Ukraine, Stepan Kojsa.
2019 brought a dream to reality - our own building. This artist rendering shows what our "House of Mercy" will look like, once complete.
Ground was broken in May of 2019.
Art Therapy with a professional art teacher and painter, Alya, from Odessa. Her regular visits to work with our children are prized by children and staff alike.
Our dedicated building volunteers are trying to enclose the new building to protect the progress, and to enable interior work during the winter months.
The Island of Hope celebrated International Charity Day for the first time this year. Our staff and volunteers created a Children's Area for the downtown Odessa (Ukraine) event and represented Nourished Hearts and The Island of Hope well. (two photos)