Meet the NPH Leadership Institute Class of 2013!

All four members of the second class of the NPH Leadership Institute are here in Seattle and ready to begin their year of growth and study. Take a moment to get to know each of them!

Santos Rodolfo Zuniga Giron, NPH Honduras

Rodolfo is currently completing his final year of service in My Good Shop (website on which items needed in the home are posted for purchase by donors) at Rancho Santa Fe. He said: “NPH is everything to me, it is my first family, a place where I am happy and proud to live. My NPH family has taught me to fight for my dreams and that I am an important member of our family and our society. I know that God has a purpose for each Pequeño/a that lives in our home.”

During his time in Seattle, Rodolfo hopes to learn about leadership and improve his English abilities. He wants to be a good representative of his NPH family as well as to learn more about the work of Friends of the Orphans and others who help NPH. Following his time in Seattle, he plans to study Economics or Accounting at the university level. With his degree, he hopes to work for NPH in the future either in one of the homes or helping to raise money. He comments that “in the future there will be many more little brothers and sisters and I want them to have everything that I had when I was their age so that they can achieve their dreams. It is because of NPH that I am who I am today and I am thankful to God, Father Wasson and everyone who supports our NPH family.”

Rodolfo (center) with the boys from Casa Emmanuel at NPH Honduras

Dora Serrano Lemus, NPH El Salvador

Dora is in her third year of university in Santa Ana, El Salvador, where she is studying Psychology. She explains that “the NPH family is one of the blessings in my life and I am so grateful to Father Wasson and all our supporters  who make it possible for us to continue growing and have the chance to have everything we need. Thank you so much.”

During her time in Seattle, Dora hopes to learn more about leadership skills and improve her English. She is also interested in meeting more of the people who support our family from a distance! Upon graduating from the Leadership Institute next June, she will return to El Salvador to complete the final two years of her degree in Psychology. Afterwards, she hopes to serve NPH as a psychologist because she feels that will be a good support for the children. She has never felt obligated to work for NPH, but rather does it out of love and gratitude. She says “I will always be willing to help meet the needs of our home.”

Dora with some of her little brothers and sisters in El Salvador

Celson Enrique Rivera, NPH Nicaragua

Celson is currently completing his year of service in agriculture and transportation. Prior to that he completed high school and a professional accounting course. As he looks ahead to the year in Seattle, he hopes to learn more about leadership and improve his English as well as identifying and learning how to overcome difficulties he may face. He even aspires to have the chance to try his abilities at ice-skating!

Celson says, “NPH is unconditional love. To me, this has meant a place where we are secure, protected, where we can trust in people who want the best for us and are willing to come alongside us as we learn to overcome the difficult moments of our past. ” Upon returning to Nicaragua next July, Celson plans to enter university to study Mechanical Engineering. After completing his studies, he can see himself working for NPH directly or perhaps becoming a godparent to one of his little brothers. He explains “as Pequeños we can never forget that we are part of this large family even when we leave the home. We identify NPH as our family and this makes us proud and grateful to God and to everyone who has helped us.”

Celson (right) with his friend Franklin helping clean up the areas around NPH Nicaragua

Jacinto de Jesús Arias Canel, NPH Guatemala

Jacinto is a high school graduate and currently completing his second year of service the NPH home. He has been working as caregiver and is currently in charge of the youth leadership group at NPH Guatemala. Jacinto is eager to join the Leadership Institute in order to improve his leadership abilities. He hopes to learn how to overcome the errors and fears that come in any leadership position.

On his application for this program Jacinto wrote: “I think the most important leadership qualities in NPH are to be patient, loving, understanding, flexible, keep the feeling of family and above all to place everything we do in God’s hands.” Upon returning to Guatemala, Jacinto hopes to study Systems Engineering. After completing his studies he would like to gain experience in the workforce and then return to NPH to work for the well-being of our children.

Jacinto (right) with his brother Wilmer and friend Rosa

NHI Family Services Team Visits Seattle

Digyana shares the leadership group’s time with the family services team:

The NPHI family service team was in Seattle to work very hard for the future of NPH. They spent time with the leadership group. The visit was great. The leadership group enjoyed a pizza night at Karen and Dave Fitton’s house, the best place to eat pizza!

We had the honor of being with them during a presentation about their mission for NPH. There were a lot of people who help NPH present. Some were godparents and supporters, others were volunteers. We met many new people. During that time they introduced a new member of their group. Glenn Jones is our new international education specialist. He is a great person who has helped NPH for a long time.

We are grateful to the family services team for sharing time with us. Thank you!!


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Cinco de Mayo Party!

Wendy Shares her experience at a fun Cinco de Mayo party:
We attended a very fun Cinco de Mayo party organized by the Friends of the Orphans Northwest office in Bellevue. We ate Mexican food served by Larkin, Emir, Jean Francois and Chris (husband of Laura Useche of the Friends office). Digyana spoke briefly about the importance NPH has had in her life and in the lives of so many more. Many people at the party were new to NPH and Digyana spoke about how they can help our NPH family. Then we danced. They played our style of music, Latin music. I danced with Greg Schuler, we could not stop laughing, it was a lot of fun.

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Our Third Retreat on Whidbey Island

Julissa shares her retreat experience:

Our third retreat was on Whidbey Island. It was very positive and It helped us to understand the importance of teamwork. We also had fun and we enjoyed cooking Baleadas (Honduran Food).

The retreat was focused on Vocations; The call that everyone has inside. These are the gifts that God gave us and that we can share with our brothers and sisters.  We talked about how each part of our body is very important because we can help other people and our family. It means the Body of Christ is with us. We can’t do everything but we can do something small with effort and love.

Digyana, Wendy and I enjoyed the beach. We had a great time together.

Miguel Venegas (NPH International Executive Director) was with us. He helped us with many things. He shared with us his experience and how he is working for our family. It really helped us to know how hard we have to study and work for ourselves, our families and our countries.

Donna, Kara, Miguel and Joe shared with us their time.  Also they gave us the opportunity to begin a new project which we will begin to work very hard on here in Seattle. We will then bring it with us to our homes in NPH and work with our family.

We are very excited because we have begun the last quarter at school. Our journey is coming to an end but a new one is waiting for us at our NPH home. We really want to put in practice all that we learned here in Seattle.

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Mass Kicks off Final Quarter of Studies

This past Monday the Leadership cohort gathered with their host families, mentors, and special guests to celebrate mass as the leaders prepare to begin their last quarter of studies here in Seattle. Longtime NPH friends and supporters Fr. Tom Belleque and Fr. Ken Hume, better known as Padre Tortilla in NPH Honduras, co-celebrated the mass. Also in attendance was NPH International Executive Director Miguel Venegas. Miguel is in town for the the Friends of the Orphans Northwest Faces of Hope events this week and it was a treat to be able to get to know him. We all also enjoyed the Mexican candies he brought for dessert!

Each of the leaders shared a little about their recent retreat, story to follow, which explored the topic of vocations. After mass everyone shared a delicious meal prepared by our hosts the Schuler family. Having Miguel with us was truly special as he is the embodiment of what our leaders studying here in Seattle are working toward, the most important leadership positions in the NPH family. Miguel grew up in NPH Mexico and is living proof of the limitless opportunities available to the pequeños and pequeñas that grow up in the NPH family.

After “vacation” from school, during which our leaders are keeping busy talking at and otherwise helping with the Faces of Hope events, they will return to class to begin their third and final quarter of studies here in Seattle.

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The Ripple Effect

On Sunday evening, the leadership group attended the Krista Foundation’s Global Citizenship Event: The Ripple Effect.  The theme of the evening was the idea that “service changes you, service changes the world”.  Our young leaders were able to connect and converse with other emerging leaders who are serving or have served in the Seattle area and throughout the world.  They were also able to meet three outstanding leaders from the Seattle community who were honored with the Global Citizen Award at the event.  Several former NPH volunteers were in attendance, including Laurie who served in 1996 (NPH Honduras) and Wendy and Digyana were delighted to meet her!

At the end of the evening, we all left with a book titled, “Leadership Stories from TOMORROW: Theologies, Philosophies, Anxieties and Hopes from Promising, Emerging Leaders”.  This book is perfect for our young leaders as they continue to explore their own dreams and hopes about leadership for our NPH family.

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Servant Leadership Guides our NPH Youth Leaders

The following was written by Donna Egge from Family Services for NPHI.  This was the third year of the NPH International Leadership workshop for young leaders from all 9 countries.  The theme of the retreat was the same as the Seattle Leadership Program Retreat in December and we were able to share many ideas and plans with each other.  As we begin the application process for the 2012-13 leadership program in Seattle, many of the participants from this workshop are planning to apply and we look forward to reviewing their applications!


Our vision has always been to help our young people develop their strengths and potential in order to serve others in their own families and communities; this was and still is Fr. Wasson’s dream. We in the Family Service Team have many avenues to support this great vision in our ongoing work in the NPH Family. And, this past January, 43 youth and young adults from our extensive NPH family gathered in NPH Guatemala for the THIRD ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP, Pastores de Paz y Bien. These amazing young people are “brothers and sisters” from the same “family”, who happen to be raised in 9 different countries, where our NPH homes reside. To see their energy, harmony, and spirit come together in the name of Fr. Wasson, was an inspiration to us all!

Our overall theme this year was “Servant Leadership.” We explored this topic in a variety of ways. Fr. Reynaldo, as one of our guest speakers, helped us to look to the bible for what Jesus says is a servant leader. Sr. Kolbe, also from NPH Honduras, spoke to us about the servant leadership qualities in Bishop Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, St. Francis and Fr. Wasson. We washed each other’s feet and experienced humility. We broke open the Word of God and ourselves as we struggled with what being a servant leader means in our NPH homes. How are we, each one of us, called to serve our thousands of brothers and sisters each day and into the future?

The youth worked in small groups on values in leadership, discovering that the values of honesty, perseverance, respect, service, understanding and responsibility are all values based in faith. They spent time learning and sharing about their own strengths and challenges and what they can work on to develop better leadership habits.

How do we learn to lead and to listen when there are problems and challenges? How do we find our voices to speak up when there are injustices, in ways that we will be listened to? Who are our support people in our individual homes? These and many other questions were raised and discussed. These rich discussions were filled with a vibrant energy that gives so much hope to the future of our NPH Family! These youth ARE the future!

We had our beloved Dr. Maccoby, longtime friend of Fr. Wasson and leading expert in the US on leadership, come speak to us about our philosophies of leadership. He shared with us his definition of a leader.  “A leader is someone people follow”. He then inspired our youth to think about WHY do people follow these leaders? Out of fear and obedience or respect and inspiration? What kind of leaders do they follow, do they want to follow, do they want to be?

We also featured a panel of leaders from our NPH homes, some of whom are Pequeños/Pequeñas themselves, and local leaders from NPH Guatemala. They spoke to the youth about their experiences of servant leadership, sharing advice and inspiration to a receptive audience.

At the end of the workshop, teams from each of our homes met with the Family Service Team and developed a plan of action for their return to their home countries. What will they put into practice with their local leadership groups? What resources will they use? How will they continue teaching about Fr. Wasson and his life to their younger brothers and sisters? How will they lead with a servant heart?

We shared, prayed, sang, laughed, ate, worked, learned, reflected and played together for 7 days. New friendships were formed and a new energy to serve was born. Each participant returned home with new ideas, new dreams and renewed energy to share what they had learned about servant leadership with their directors and brothers and sisters back in their respective homes. We have high hopes for the future of our young people in the NPH Family! We most assuredly know that without a doubt Fr. Wasson was looking down from heaven reveling in the joy and love present this week, filled with the knowledge that his mission of service and compassion will continue!

Our workshop would not have been successful without the Comité de Apoyo from NPH Guatemala, a team of 11 youth leaders, who actually put into practice, servant leadership. They served the participants each meal, participated in our worship and other activities with the participants and were available to help our group with all of our needs during the week. We are deeply grateful to them and their developing leadership skills and to NPH Guatemala for their hospitality and service to their sisters and brothers in the NPH International Family!

“It’s surprising what you can do in a lifetime

if you do it just a little at a time.”- Fr. Wasson

Little by little, day by day, we are planting seeds, and nourishing these young people so that they too will see the value in servant leadership, making a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others!

Digyana, Wendy, and Julissa Bring Excitement to Mission Trip Meeting!

On Thursday, January 12th, Digyana, Wendy and Julissa participated in an event at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Renton.  St. Andrew is planning a Mission Trip to NPH Honduras in July, and this meeting was the third in a series of informational meetings to equip travelers with information about the trip.  Also attending were Laura Useche, Kristen Bagley, Stephanie Schuler and Carol, each bringing the experience of their many trips to Honduras and other NPH homes.

The meeting included a tamale dinner prepared by Roger & Judy Paulsen, who had the experience of preparing tamales during their November trip to Rancho Santa Fe.  It’s safe to say the meeting had the potential to be “dry and boring”, had it not been for our guests.  The girls each described their experience at NPH, and led the group in learning a Spanish song.  Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious, and their desire and courage to use their English was amazing — they did great.  They, along with Laura, Kristen, Carol and Stephanie were able to address all the group’s questions with informative examples from their personal experience.

The St. Andrew group is extremely appreciative of our guests’ willingness to take time from their busy lives to contribute to the success of our July trip.

Thanks to all!!!

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