May has brought some rains earlier than normal. This is the month that we hand out our “Gardens in a Bag” so the families will be able to get their seeds planted in the ground right away. They received some training to explain different methods of using raised beds, using materials that they may have available such as old tires etc. and also how to protect their seedlings from too much sun or too much rain by using a shading material that they can place over their plants. Each family received seeds for lettuce, radishes, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cilantro and cucumbers. They also received some fertilizer, pest control and some written instructions. If they are diligent in the care of their garden; the families should have lots of vegetables that they can enjoy. We also need to pray for the right amount of right in the right timing! Abner gave a talk about the proper way to disinfect their vegetables and fruit and every family received a plastic tub that can be designated for that use. We had a good response to our MYB (Middle of the Year Blessing) and are happy to announce that we will be able to give every Embrace child a pair of new shoes. In June we will be sizing the children and asking the family to make the decision as to what type of shoes that they want; tennis, school, sandals, boots. The shoes will be ordered accordingly and then distributed at our July monthly meetings.
I recently met with my board of directors for our annual meeting and we have gone over all of the ministry’s outreaches/programs. It has been decided to make some changes in the Embrace program that will be initiated as of January of 2024; but we want our sponsors to be informed now. We all know how much pricing has gone up on everything in the last few years; it is just the reality of how things are! We have tried to keep the cost of sponsorship competitive with other children sponsorship programs. But we also need to look at what our main objectives are for the Embrace program. The biggest one is to provide the greatest amounts of food staples but also the most nutritious food that we can give to the children. Other children’s sponsorship programs work with a slush fund method that does NOT provide direct benefits to the child being sponsored on a monthly basis; Embrace stands on a completely different platform than that and gives each Embrace child the direct benefit of their sponsor’s support. We have to work with the amount that we have from sponsorship payments and we feel that the children are lacking in what we believe that they need. It has been 7 years since we did a price increase and feel that we need to do something now. We also have decided that we will make the “transportation cost” a part of regular sponsorship; rather than being optional! The current $5.00 transportation that about 60% of our sponsors provide is no longer a price that covers the real cost! We want to make sure that every family has at least what they need for their return trip home from monthly meetings to help make it easier for them to transport the 40-50 lbs. of food that they receive each month. As of January 2024, sponsorship will increase to $50.00 per month but that will include a small increase to both the current basic sponsorship and transportation fees. Again, our protein package has been affected by rising cost and whereas the families used to receive a 4 lb. chicken, they are currently only receiving a 3.25-3.50 lb. chicken depending on the price. We have also had to reduce the fish and beef options that the children receive on a rotating basis. The providing of the “protein package” will remain optional but will be increased to $10.00 per month. For most families, this is the only time of the month that they have any meat or fish for their family but we will keep this as an option that is up to the sponsors’ discretion. PLEASE NOTE: Some people are paid in advance and are already paid into the calendar year 2024. We will honor your payments made prior to the current date now. If a sponsor chooses to offset that to help; that will be a personal decision and greatly appreciated. But any payments made as of June 1, 2023 that take sponsorship into the 2024 timeframe must reflect the new pricing. We pray that you will understand our need to make these changes and to understand that Embrace is a very unique program that has very direct ties between a sponsor and their sponsor child; and that we ALL want to see these children thrive in their physical health as well as all the other areas that we impact their lives with through your faithful sponsorship. On behalf of the Embrace staff and the children and their families we say a HUGE THANK YOU for all that you do!!!!