Welcome to our Blessing Hands Blog

Thanks for visiting our website and learning about our charity that helps children in China stay in school.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Qu Lingzhu's Operation is Successful

I have just received very good news. Someone has contacted me recently to tell me that Qu Lingzhu, one of our primary school Blessing Hands students that we have been trying to get medical help, has had an operation sponsored by a Chinese/American artist from San Francisco. A fund raising effort for her operation on Chinese television in San Francisco had some results. It was this same person who stood with Qu Lingzhu during the operation that Blessing Hands paid for in February 2006, but she moved from Yangshuo, and I did not know that she was still keeping in contact with Lingzhu and like me was still trying to get her help. This is where my lack of knowing Chinese gives me a handicap.

The operation was a success, and Lingzhu should be fine, except she will need another operation when she is 18. It is always good to know that a child has been helped, and I knew that you all would want to know the good news. Blessing Hands did not really have anything to do with this blessing, but what great New Year's news it is.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Welcome a New Board Member


Dr. James (Xiao Long) Li has recently joined our Blessing Hands Board of Directors. Since Dr. Li is a teacher in Industrial Engineering and Technology at Morehead State University, he brings to the board a broad knowledge of computer science and distance learning technology. Xiao Long is from the Zhejiang Province of China, and he and his wife, Duojia Zhu, grew up in rural China. They moved to Morehead in the spring of 2006. They are expecting a baby girl soon. He has been very helpful in translating our material into simplified Chinese and advising us on Chinese culture.

Abby Kenney Gives $100 to Blessing Hands


Abigail Kenney from Girl Scout Troop 552 recently won $300 in the Charity Scavenger Hunt sponsored by Rowan Review. Abigail also earned a Girl Scout “Our Community” badge by completing the charity feats over fourteen days. Best of all she gave $100 of her winnings to Blessing Hands. Thanks so much Abby!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

We Have Selected a Blessing Hands Intern.


Megan Mraz, daughter of Chuck and Joni Mraz of Morehead, has been selected as Blessing Hands’ Morehead State University intern for the summer and fall of 2007. Megan is a junior at MSU majoring in Elementary Education. She is interested in photography, art, theatre, science, languages, reading, tutoring, and being with people. All these hobbies and abilities will serve Megan well when she travels to Yangshuo, China for two and one half weeks next summer to represent Blessing Hands.

Megan will be visiting schools and meeting the children that Blessing Hands supports in Yangshuo. She will also meet the college students that Blessing Hands pays tuition for at Guangxi Normal University. Megan will be participating in a service project, living with a Chinese family, and perhaps teach an English class or two.

When Megan returns to the USA, she will advocate for the Blessing Hands students on the MSU campus and assist Blessing Hands with various projects and duties as a fall intern. She will be getting a grade for her service under the supervision of the Morehead State University School of Education and Blessing Hands.

A fund to help pay for Megan’s summer travel expenses has been established at the MSU Foundation, and supporters are encouraged to make tax deductible contributions by mailing their donations to the Blessing Hands Internship Fund at the MSU Foundation, Palmer Development House, Morehead, Ky 40351.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blessing Hands is Selecting a Summer/Fall Intern

Blessing Hands has recently created a Blessing Hands Internship in cooperation with Morehead State University. The intern will be selected through an application and interview process to be completed in December, 2006. The internship will include a two and a half summer trip to Yangshuo, China where they will stay with a Chinese family and interact with Blessing Hands students and teachers. We expect class credit to be a part of this internship through the MSU Department of Education.

In the fall semester the intern will advocate for the needs of Blessing Hands children on the campus of Morehead State University and assist Blessing Hands with computer records, pen pal and sponsorship records, PowerPoint presentations, website maintenance, and fund raising depending on their special abilities. Blessing Hands has already funded $500 toward this internship and is in the process of raising more money for the intern’s travel expenses. You can contribute to this intern fund by sending a check or money order to the Blessing Hands Internship, MSU Foundation, Palmer Development House, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY 40351

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Students are Receiving Their Glasses!


Dear Blessing Hands,
I am very glad to receive your e-mail letters. I am so busy that I have no time to sent you a letter for a long time. I have received the glasses which given by you. I like it very much because it so beautiful and useful. It gives me a great of helps. Thank you very much.
Recently I have some difficulty in my study, but I believe I can overcome them. Thank for your help again.
Best wiches.
Yours,
Lu Xiuyun

I put in some periods and spaces, but it is essentially Lu's letter. I hope she will send me a photo with her wearing her new glasses. She goes to the high school that prepares teachers to teach in their public schools. Some teachers start teaching at 18 years of age.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Qinzhou No. 1 Middle School


Some of the Blessing Hands students from Qinzhou No. 1 Middle School are starting to write me thank you notes. I hope to find them pen pals. Maybe your youth group would like such a project. This is King who is 16. He wants to improve his English by writing to an American pen pal. Sun Ling Yun would also like to write someone. She is in the freshman class at Qinzhou No. 1 Middle School.

They have to go to their teacher's office to use a computer, since the computer lab's computers are verrrrry slow and old. I would love to get a computer grant for these schools. Does anyone want to help with that? These kids have never had e-mail addresses before, so we are introducing them to a whole new experience. Write blessinghands@gmail.com to connect to get a pen pal.

A Thank You Letter from China

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am so glad that I can express myself. My name is Fengmin, I’m from No. 2 Middle School of Pubei. Now my family is in trouble and need help. I don’t mean to say how poor my family is and how much I really need money, but I really appreciate the help that you offered to me.

I do realize that the world is full of love. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. At one time, I thought I couldn’t realize my dream, and I thought I had to leave school, at that time I lived in darkness. But now, you give me courage, hope and sunlight, and now my life is full of love and happiness again. The most importance is that I realize there are many warm-hearted men in the world.

In a word, I think I will realize my dream with your help and encouragement. Thank you very much.

Yours,
Fengmin

Monday, October 23, 2006

Introducing Our Newest Board Member


Janet J. Gross, RN, DSN is a Professor of Nursing at Morehead State University. She is a specialist in adult health, nursing education, and transcultural nursing. She has extensive international experience as a representative to the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA). Through this relationship she has directed or taught study aboard programs for university students in numerous countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Great Britain.

She is an active member of professional organizations related to nursing and international education. In addition to teaching nursing, she is also serving as the interim director of the Office of International Education at Morehead State University.
Janet’s passions are transcultural nursing and providing students the opportunity to learn about the world around them through direct experience.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pen Pals Needed


The Blessing Hands students at Zhanghuang Middle school wrote me this charming letter together. I hope some of you will be willing to write these girls, and help them learn English. I would like to match youth groups, classes, and scout troops with schools in China. Write me for more information.

Dear Betty,
How do you do? Thank you very much for helping us in our life and study. We are Lin Xue, Lin Jiafeng, Wang Lu, and Su Lianfeng. We are studying in Zhanghuang Middle School, Pubei, Qinzhou, Guangxi, China. Miss Liu gave us a talk about Blessinghands on National Day, October 1st. Then she gave us money, some school things, and a beautiful big bag. She said we must spend the money on our study. She encouraged us to study hard and go to college with this beautiful bag. We will remember her words forever and make our dreams come true. But our English is poor. We don't know how to improve our English? Can you help us? This is our English teacher Miss Xia Qiumei's e-mail address. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.
Best wishes!
Yours,
Lin Xue, Lin Jiafeng, Wang Lu, and Su Lianfeng

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Anna Explains about Blessing Hands


Anna Liu wrote the following e-mail about the ingathering.

Everybody felt very happy and excited. I talk about you, talk about Blessing Hands Charity, and my life in America for an hour. I told them all people in your church are sisters and brothers. I like that. I told them I am their sister, and the other teachers who donate the old clothes are their relatives, too. So they were very glad to share all the clothes donated by the teachers. How happy I was. Betty, you don't know when I told them you would come yourself on the 11th of February how excited they were!

Successful Ingathering
































Anna Liu just sent these pictures of the ingathering day in Qinzhou for Blessing Hands students. 120 students from 26 rural middle schools around Qinzhou and 60 students from Qinzhou Number One Middle School (which has 6,000 student enrolled) came together with their teachers to receive their Blessing Hands tuitions for this semester.

It was a big day when the students got to have their pictures taken for our records, write thank you letters, and receive new school bags and school supplies. Some schools have ten Blessing Hands students and others have more or less depending on the need of the area and size of the school.

Anna was able to get volunteers to help her with the hard work for the day. She talked to them with a presentation about Blessing Hands for an hour and a half and encouraged them to be a Blessing Hand to others as well. She impressed on them that they were not just getting tuition but love as well.

The tuition for these students varies but averages about $75 or a little more per semester. If you want to be a blessing and support one of these students for a semester, you can send a check to Founding Family Foundation at 1004 Rodney Dr., Nashville, TN 37205-1018. Checks should be made out to Founding Family Charitable Foundation since they are matching contributions dollar for dollar until December 31, 2006. After that date contributions should come to Blessing Hands, 106 Timber Lane, Morehead, KY. We want you to take advantage of the matching offer from Founding Families Foundation before it ceases.

We can also match you up with a particular student if you would liketo write to them or know your special student. They are all between the ages of 15 to 18. They have been selected by their schools based on need and educational promise, and all come from families below the poverty line and most are from single parent family homes. The government of China does not pay tuition for children over 15, so many of these students could not go to school without help.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ingathering Plans in Qinzhou

I talked to Anna Liu, the Blessing Hands administrator in Qinzhuo, tonight with a cut rate Chinese phone card. She is going through 600 applications to find the 180 high school students that can be funded for the fall semester in Qinzhou County. She has 26 rural schools and her own home school (Qinzhou No 1 Middle School) who are submitting applications. She is setting 10 students per school on the average, except for Pubei Town that was flooded from the typhoon. She says some families lost everything there, and she gave that school 20 student grants.

The schools cannot believe their good blessings and the lack of paperwork required. Anna says that the government would take three months to give money out and require them to submit paperwork again and again. They will get the Blessing Hands grants on National day in about one week.

She has had people trying to come in the backdoor so to speak, trying to get their poor relative included. She just tells them to submit the paper work, and they will be considered with all the other applications. She tells them Blessing Hands does it the American way, in the front door.

She is getting ready for the fall ingathering now with the help of three teacher assistants who are helping her as volunteers. 180 high students will come to her campus to receive their tuition money and school supplies, have their photos taken, write thank you letters, and enjoy a social time. 26 teachers will come with them from the rural schools and some teachers from her high school as well will attend. She says it is going very well, and everyone is excited and happy about what is happening. It helps that they remember me in the schools, since I taught rural English teachers in a summer English camp there in 2004.

She will give some of the donated American books to the rural teachers for their schools. We need to send them some more English books. The reading level is about 6th grade or lower. Books can be sent for a dollar a pound (up to 60 pounds) in a M-bag at the U S Post Office. They take three months to get there, but are very welcomed. If someone wants to send books let me know, and I will give you the address and more information.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Grants and Stock Gifts

Since the Founding Family Foundation matching offer runs out on December 31, 2006, let me encourage you to donate now while it can still be matched. Founding Family Foundation has given us a good start, but they are turning to more individual adoption grants in 2007, and our grant with them may be reduced or even eliminated for 2007. If you intend to renew your subscription or pledge to help a child, now is the time.

Blessing Hands now has a stock account, which will allow us to accept stock donations. People who have stocks that have increased so much that their capital gains would raise their income taxes can give them to Blessing Hands instead and get a tax deduction. It is a wonderful way to give to the children and would help the donors as well. There is no need to cash out stocks and pay taxes on your profits and then give to charities when you could give the stock directly as a donation and get a handsome tax deduction. Being a public charity, Blessing Hands could use the sale price for the students and owe no taxes on the profits.

Volunteers Wanted

Blessing Hands has discovered volunteers. We set up atable at the Morehead State Volunteer Fair, and invited people to come by and see our display and sign up to help us with anything from a fund raising scavenger hunt to computer profiling of our Blessing Hands students who would like pen pals or sponsors. We are seeking organizations or individuals willing to help us with setting up our bookkeeping system, advertising, advocacy for our children, web site maintenance, fund raising, newsletters, pen pals, sending English books to schools, travel to China to have clinics or work days with Blessing Hands schools or children, matching sponsors and children, matching sister schools or classes, grant writing, computer records, and etc.

So many people have been a blessing already, especially our donors. Maybe some of you would be willing to help Blessing Hands contact churches, scout troops, community clubs, and other organization thatmight be interested in helping children. I have made a PowerPoint presentation that can be used by anyone to introduce Blessing Hands. The first time it was shown to a vacation Bible school in Pennsylvania resulted in $500 being given. I will gladly mail you a copy, and you can show it at your club, sorority, family reunion, scout troop, school, church, youth group, or synagogue. It encourages participation on small and large levels and involvement of everybody.

Nine Mile School Gets Fall Grants for Textbooks


One donor has adopted Nine Mile School to pay for their textbooks and school supplies. She only works part time since she has her mother to look after, but she has managed to bless these children abundantly. The pictures of the children receiving their gifts brought tears to my eyes. Mr. Huang, the principal, said the children started arriving as early as 7:00 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. appointment. The teachers also came on their one day off to see the children get their gifts.

Anna Liu, who got to give out the gifts, gave a little speech to ask them to pass the kindness on to others and be a blessing to others just like they were blessed. She had such a good time that she is looking forward to going back in February to give out the next semester's grant. Our thanks also goes to Lu Hanbin who assisted Anna with transportation and shopping.

Anna hopes to give them winter sports jackets in February. I can tell from the pictures of the children that some of them are wearing very old torn jackets. I think we can find people willing to help give them jackets. We might even be able to buy them some other clothes. Maybe you would like to be that person. Just send a donation for this to Founding Family Foundation before December 31, 2006, and it will be matched. Be sure and make the check out to Founding Family Foundation. Their address is:

Founding Family Foundation
1004 Rodney Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37205-1018 Posted by Picasa

28 Children at Nine Mile School Get New Shoes

Anna Liu, our Blessing Hands administrator in Southern Guangxi, was delighted to visit Nine Mile School recently to give the 28 Blessing Hands children there new shoes. The children had never had shoes that good before, and they said it was like Chinese New Year gifts. Anna got a good price of under $3 for the shoes. Each child also got socks, ten new pencils, erasers, pencil sharpers, textbooks and homework exercise books. All of this only cost $280.

When people ask why we are helping children in China instead of America, I always mention that US money can buy 8 times more in value in China. To these children $280 US =$2,240 buying power in their money. In US money Chinese famers only make about 200 to 500 dollars a year. Our charity dollar goes a lot farther in China, and the children really, really need the help. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Click on this link to see the movie of Anding Primary School going to our eye glass clinic




http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7356210220983174287&pr=goog-sl is the address on the internet where you will find a movie of the Anding Primary School Blessing Hands children at our recent eye glass clinic.

Click on this movie of Anding Primary School


http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2661150041128430494

I have placed two movies on line for your information. This one is our visit to Gaotian Anding Primary School. I used my little digital camera, so the size is small.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eye Glass Dedication Ceremony in Yangshuo

While I was in Yangshuo China for an eye glass clinic many teachers also received glasses.These tachers in Yangshuo County received new eye glasses through the sponsorship of Morehead Sister Cities, Blessing Hands, Founding Family Charitable Foundation, and the Yangshuo's People's Hospital. Mayor Brad Collins of Morehead (in the beard on the back row) traveled with us to Yangshuo to present the glasses and arrange for other joint Sister Cities projects with Yangshuo in the future. Perhaps there will be other medical exchanges in the future. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yangshuo Middle School

The Blessing Hands/Sister Cities Delegation that went to Yangshuo August 1-14th got a lot done. We did a three day eyeglass clinic for the Blessing Hands children, visited schools, visited with government leaders, and toured Yangshuo.

Yangshuo Middle School was one of the most outstanding schools I have seen in Yangshuo County. Blessing Hands is presently giving tuition for the 23 students show here. Their campus is spacious, well maintained, and large.

I was delighted to share this trip with my daughter-in-law Cindy Cutts and her mother Jan Weeks. Jan is a third grade teacher and could understand the Yangshuo schools and teacher's needs and problems. Cindy was touched by the children that she met and wants to correspond with some of them. Cindy is pictured here on my right while Jan is on my left.

Thank You Gifts from the Students in Yangshuo




On this trip to Yangshuo I got to personally see a lot of the students at our eye clinic. They were eager to see us also and brought thank you cards and gifts. The gifts were creative, inexpensive, and home made.


One of the girls from the Teacher Training Middle School, Lu Xiu Yun, sewed a little colorful purse and put paper cranes inside with a personal note wishing luck and everything to go well. She is wearing the red shirt in the picture shown here.

Qin Min put folded cranes inside a glass jar with a little note. I was touched by the handmade cards they brought personally. The girl pictured here with me stayed up all night to make paper cranes to glue into the word "Thanks". Qin Ling Zhu, who had the operation in February, made a little basket from a plastic water bottle and filled it with folded paper shapes.

Lynn Chen Jianhua

While I was in Yangshuo recently, I got to see Lynn, our scholarship student from Guangxi Normal University. She needed new glasses, so I invited her to the eyeglass clinic we were having at the Yangshuo Hospital this August. We all had a great dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken after the clinic was over for the day.

She comes from a large rural family and sets an example for her village concerning hard work and preserverance.

Starfish

When I was in Xi'an Nina Ottinger and I got to visit the fostor home of Amanda de Lange. Amanda is from South Africa and speaks Chinese.

She has been entrusted with 13 special needs babies and is doing a wonderful job. She gets them needed corrective surgeries and sees them through to adoption. She calls the ministry Starfish after the story of a man picking up starfish stranded on the beach and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone asked him why he bothered, and he said that at least those starfish would have life.

She has her own blog at http://www.chinesestarfish.blogspot.com. Several Chinese nannie help her along with volunteers from many countries. What a difference a life of compassion can make. I really think compassion is a gift and gives ability beyond our own to reach out to others.

The Blessing Hands Board recently voted to support this worthy ministry to handicapped children with a small grant each semester. You can also give money directly on her website.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Eyeglass Clinic


Blessing Hands was a partner with Sister Cities of Morehead in a eyeglass clinic serving Blessing Hands children and teachers from Yangshuo.




It was wonderful to see some of the students in person after having seen their pictures and read their thank you letters.

Carolyn Franzini and Tami Kaskulski were trained to use a refractor to exam the children. It made the exams go much faster.

The children came with their teachers on the local buses and stayed for a simple noodle or rice lunch. 350 teachers had their eyeglass clinic earlier in July.

Blessing Hands cooperated with the Yangshuo Hospital and Kendall Optometry Ministry, Inc. to conduct this clinic. The hospital contributed $4.50 for the price of each pair of glasses while Blessing Hands gave $7.50 per pair. With the hospital joining together with us, the teachers and students got better quality of glasses. Kendall Optometry Ministry supplied equipment and training to our clinic team.

Nina Ottinger Gave Physicals










Nina Ottinger from the Founding Family Charitable Foundation was able to use her nursing ability to give the Blessing Hands children physicals after their eye exam. The students were also invited to select a small gift like a beanie baby or baseball hat. Nina was a great addition to the group of eight people who went to Yangshuo as a Sister Cities Delegation.

Chinese Eye Doctor


The Chinese eye doctor at Yangshuo Hospital

Qin Ling Zhu Report


Unfortunately Qin Ling Zhu's tumor has grown back worse in six months since her operation. Sadly Dr. He, her doctor, sent word that her case could not treated in China and was beyond his skill.

Through a series of coincidences, while I was in China I was able to get her medical records to the Chinese Agape Foundation, a medical ministry that helps Chinese children receive medical care from American doctors who come to China. They also send children to America to get treatment. They are evaluating her case now to see if she can be helped in America.

Delta Airline allows donations of skymiles to help with the transportation of such children. If you want to donate spare skymiles, you can get more information at: http://www.china-mission.org.

Gaotian Anding Primary School



While we were in Yangshuo, we visited Gaotian Anding Primary School. It is a rural school with many needs and dedicated teachers. Blessing Hands has 6 students receiving textbook and school supplies there. The children had drawn us pictures to greet us.

School Needs


We were all touched by their stories and the needs of the school. They had constructed a new bathroom building, but they lacked enough money to finish the necessary water tower to flush the waste.

Nina Ottinger offered the assistance of Founding Family Charitable Foundation to finish that project and make other needed repairs to floors, electrical fixtures, and the classrooms. The new stalls in the bathroom are pictured.

Mr. Liu's Room


Later we saw the Anding children at the eye clinic with their teacher Mr. Liu. Mr. Liu lives at the school during the week and goes home on weekends. He let me take a picture of him in his room at the school. Many teachers live at their schools. Mr. Liu was recently named one of the outstanding teachers of Yangshuo County.

Eighteen teachers serve as volunteers for Blessing Hands among 39 schools. They maintain contact with the Blessing Hands children in their area and keep track of their status, grades, families, and needs.

Blessing Hands Administrators


Malan Cai (left) was with us in Yangshuo as a translator and co-administrator. Anna Liu (center), administrator in Qinzhou, also came to Yangshuo with her family. I was glad for my two good friends to meet for the first time. They are both dedicated to children as teachers and have my heart for the children.

Gloria Wei (right) is the excellent Blessing Hands administrator in Yangshuo. She managed the plans for the eyeglass clinic making everything run beautifully. She and her family gave us a lovely supper this time.

Three Scholarships Awarded

Anna top and Jenny bottom

We also got the pleasure of interviewing students for college scholarships while we were in Yangshuo. We were able to give three $500 freshmen scholarships to three girls, Liu Raodong (Lilly), Zhang Ji Yun (Jenny), and Liang Fudi (Anna).

All three girls did well on their national exams and have been accepted into various colleges. Jenny wants to be an architect, and Anna is going to a transportation college. Lilly will go to the Guangxi Ethnic College. Blessing Hands will help them for the first year until they can take the test to qualify for government scholarships. They will continue to receive aid in proportion to their need even after they get a government scholarship until they graduate.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Great News- The IRS letter came.

Good news!  Today I received our official letter from the Internal Revenue Service, granting Blessing Hands 501 (c) (3) status with an advanced ruling date of June 30, 2010.  That means that everyone who has given to Blessing Hands can now retroactively count it as a tax deduction.  It also means that we are officially a public charity with exemption from income taxes.  It came really quick.  I was expecting a 120-day wait.  We must have done everything right with great advice.  My thanks goes to accountant Jonathan Stiles, Cindy and Matt Cutts who let me in on their nonprofit advice, and especially to Founding Family Foundation that believed in Blessing Hands before the government ever did. 
 
I am leaving for Yangshuo China in six days.  I am part of a Sister Cities Tour that is conducting an eyeglass clinic with Blessing Hands' support.  We are paying for part of the cost for eyeglasses for the Blessing Hands students and many teachers in Yangshuo.  I will get to meet each student personally when they come for their eye exam.  Nina Ottinger from Founding Family Foundation is going with us and will conduct physicals for each child.  She is a pediatric nurse among other things.  Mostly she likes to be Mom to her adopted Chinese daughter Sarah Helena. Cindy Cutts, my daughter-in-law, and her mother Janice Weeks are also going.  Janice, a third grade teacher, is going to take pictures of all the children to encourage sponsors to select children and pen pals to be matched. 
 
Anna Liu, the Blessing Hands administrator from Qinzhou, will bring her family and join us in Yangshuo for the eye clinic. Her parents direct a medical clinic that was flooded from a typhoon just last week.  Yangshuo also had two towns flooded, but no lives were lost.  Malan Cai, the administrator in Yangshuo, will be our translator and stay with us the whole trip.  Tami Jaskulski from Lexington, KY is also going to be helping with the eye clinic.  I expect to meet with the Chinese doctor who plans another operation on Qu Ling Zhu to correct the facial deformity cause by the removed tumor. I also hope to see many of my former ESL students who have returned to China. 
 
Another piece of good news is the free offer of Patti Cormican, a social worker with Lutheran Charities, to investigate writing some grants for Blessing Hands.  We hope to get money for more medical help for the children, computers for the schools, and perhaps basketball courts or playground equipment for a few schools. Now that we have our 501(c)(3) status that will be easier. There are so many needs in rural China.  I would like to see some water purification projects for the remote schools be funded.  Even Qinzhou No 1 Middle School, which is in a large city, has to boil their drinking water. The upper classmen get the boiled water first and some of the lower grade students go thirsty.
 
My final good news is that money has been coming in for the fall semester.  Two vacation Bible schools have given their mission offerings to Blessing Hands this summer. With the matching funds that Founding Family Foundation has pledged Blessing Hands will receive at least $1,200 from the American Bible School children.  I now have a power point presentation that I can easily send out to people willing to help us with fund raising, and we have engaged a webpage designer, John Fisher of Seek Ye First Computing.  If you haven't sent your donation for the fall semester, now is the time.   
 

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Application for Nonprofit Completed

Blessing Hands, Inc. Newsletter - June 30, 2006

I am so glad to announce that Blessing Hands’ application to become a nonprofit charity has been sent to the US Government. It was a complicated, hard application that required the help of professionals, but it was mailed Tuesday just in time to avoid the raise in fees that was coming in July. The application process made us get all of our records in order and project a budget for two years in advance. I feel really good about the direction that we have taken and know that it will help the children.

Becoming officially a nonprofit charity allows donors to be able to deduct their donations from their income tax and that even applies to donations in 2005 when we were only a fund. When the application is approved, we will let the original donors know that they can now deduct those first donations. Being nonprofit will also allow us to apply for more grants and give us status in the eyes of possible donors, governments, and partners.

We now have a board of directors for Blessing Hands, bylaws, and a financial structure that we can build on. Our first board meeting was June 18th. We passed lots of resolutions that first meeting and set the foundation for Blessing Hands for the future. I was chosen as president of the board, Phyllis Nickel is vice president, Steve Chen, a teacher at Morehead State University, is secretary, and David Cutts is treasurer. Jeff Fannin is also on the board but not an officer for now. This charity will not die with me or be founder dependent. With an involved board the children will continue to receive help even after I am no longer personally guiding it.

The next big project for Blessing Hands is an eyeglass clinic in Yangshuo in August in cooperation with Sister Cities of Morehead. We are furnishing funds for 400 teachers to have new eyeglasses at $7.50 a pair. Most of the Blessing Hands Children in Yangshuo will also have a chance to be examined for glasses and receive them free if they are needed. This is our way of rewarding the teachers for the volunteer work they do with our Blessing Hands children. The teachers confirm the status of the children and make home visits to check on their progress and income. Many of these teachers don’t make enough money to buy themselves glasses, since the income of rural teachers can be as low at $20 a month. When I was teaching last summer I noticed that some of my teacher/students could not read the blackboard. The teacher’s medical support from the government does not cover glasses.

While we are in Yangshuo with the eyeglass clinic, Nina Ottinger from Founding Family Foundation will give all the children physicals. She is a nurse practitioner. She is bringing little gifts that the children can chose from after their physicals. We will get to meet children whose schools are too distant for us to usually visit. Children from different outlying towns will come with their teachers to the three-day eye clinic. We will pay for bus fare and a simple noodle or rice lunch for the children. While they are in China, the Blessing Hands group will also be interviewing students applying for a college scholarship that will be awarded to a graduating senior in Yangshuo.

Another exciting thing is the beginning of another tuition program for higher middle school students in Qinzhou, Guangxi, China. Anna Liu is the administrator of this tuition only program. It will fund one student in each of the 120 outlying rural schools and 60 low-income children at Qinzhou No. 1 Middle School. The government does not pay for the tuition of higher middle school students, and many are forced to drop out. While Anna was a visiting scholar at Morehead State University, she was able to fully participate in the proposal for this new program before she returned home. She is an outstanding educator respected in her county. We are blessed to have her administrative experience and skill working for the children.

I want to ask for some pressing needs. I would like to take a laptop computer to Malan Cai, Blessing Hands’ representative in China, to assist us in communicating by voice over the Internet. If anyone has a used laptop in good condition, we would really like to have it. I would also like to have some digital cameras to give to those who photograph the students and send in reports by e-mail. If you have a camera to donate please let me know. It doesn’t have to be new- just in good working order.

Of course we can always use money, especially since the fall semester is coming up. If you donated for the spring semester, it is now time to donate for the fall semester. With the matching funds that Founding Family is now offering, your donation will be doubled this time. Imagine a donation of $50 becoming $100. Their matching funds offer extends until December 31, 2006. Send your donation to Founding Family Foundation, 1004 Rodney Dr. Nashville, Tennesee, 37205-1008. Be sure and and put Founding Family Foundation on the check instead of Blessing hands, but attach a note saying it is for Blessing Hands.

There is now a paypal button on our blog where you can donate online.

Blessing Hands also needs expertise with making a webpage and brochure. If you are gifted in any of these areas and want to donate your time and experience we would be overjoyed.

Blessings, Betty Cutts

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I recently received this thank you note from a Blessing Hands child. It really encouraged me to keep up the good work. I edited her English a little, but not her content.

June 10, 2006

Dear Betty

Thank you every much for giving me a hand when I was in trouble. My name is Zheng Xiao Mei, and Shirley is my English name. I come from a very poor family. Most of people are peasants In my family. I have a grandmother who is sixty years old and a brother who is studying at the high school. He will graduate from high school and go to the university this year. My mother`s leg was hurt, and she can't walk well. My father who is in bad health can`t do hard work. Now I`m studying at Yangshuo Experimental Middle school of Foreign Studies. I'm in class 8 senior 1 of 1. I like studying very much, and at school my favorite subject is English. To study in the university is my dream, but my family can`t afford my studying at school. So I would have to give up my studies and make money next term.

Having known something about me, you tried your best to help me. With your help, I can go back to school again and continue studying. In my opinion you are a very kind and warm-hearted person, just like my parent. I am very thankful to you, and made up my mind to study hard, so that I can get better results to studies to thanks for your help.
Thanks again, and I wish you all the best.

Yours respectfully,

Zheng Xiao Mei.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blessing Hands Quarterly Report

I got to meet many new Yangshuo Blessing Hands children during my trip to China in March and see old ones again. I was there during the last part of March with a Sister Cities Group and of course visited the schools.

The children had letters and drawings to give and the older ones had self-introduction speeches to recite. I was delighted to give them Beanie Babies, candy, and other small gifts. The school principals and teachers also got small gifts like tapes and CDs. Some of the older students were able to speak and write English. At some schools we had time to have them write introductions about themselves to share with pen pals or sponsors, but at other schools we barely had time to give them English names, if they wanted one., and take pictures.

Some of the primary children we helped in the fall don't need support now, since the government is paying their tuition. We have kept 50 of our original 185 supported primary students. The support for these younger students is now $10 a semester rather than $25 as before, since they will only need help with books and school supplies not tuition. This semester we will be supporting 40 junior middle school students, which is an increase from last semester. Their $25 support will include room and board, books, and school supplies but not tuition since the government is now paying that. You can see pictures of children from Zhonghe Middle School on my blog.

Thanks to the Founding Family Grant we will be able to add 55 higher middle school children to Blessing Hands in Yangshuo this semester. We had a few before, who had special circumstances like the death of a parent, but now we will be supporting many. Being over 15 they don't receive government school tuition and are tempted to drop out of school rather than go on to high school. We can really make a difference by offering tuition and room and board to those who need our help. In mostly rural Yangshuo this will only cost $63 a semester.

Beginning with the fall semester any Yangshuo County Blessing Hands student who graduates in the spring of 2006 and is accepted into a Chinese college may apply to Blessing Hands before August 1st for a partial college scholarship during the 2006-07 school year. Scholarships will be awarded based on need, test scores, college tuition expenses, number of students applying, and availability of scholarship money for that purpose in the Blessing Hands treasury. I am hoping that you sponsors will want to support these individual scholarships. We already have awarded two $250 spring semester college scholarships at Guangxi Normal University to rural students studying to be teachers. That covers half of their tuition.

Blessing Hands branched out this semester to assist a primary school in Wuming, a Zhuang minority area near Nanning. Mr. Lu, who was a visiting scholar in Morehead, comes from the Zhuang people. He took us to his home town and Nine Mile School where 28 children needed help paying for their school books. We gave the school $175 to pay off a textbook bill. The principal there is an old classmate of Mr. Lu, and the children were delightful. We also attended a Zhuang Song Festival in Wuming.

Beginning with the fall semester Blessing Hands will be using grant money from Founding Families and your matching contributions to support higher middle school children in the Qinzhou, Guangxi area of China. Anna Liu, who is a visiting scholar at MSU, has helped to secure this grant and will administer the program in her area. 60 rural higher middle schools will receive tuition help for students while 30% of the proposal will cover children in No.1 Middle School, which serves many rural children from the area. The higher middle school tuitions in Qinzhou are $75 a semester, since it is a more prosperous area. The proposal calls for tuition help for about 280 students.

Founding Family is sending me to a course on how to start a non-profit charity. Blessing Hands has grown so much that it is now necessary to be incorporated and become an official charity. Donors will then be able to get tax receipts from Blessing Hands, but for now any donations should be given to Founding Family Foundation,1004 Rodney Dr, Nashville, TN 37205-1018. They have promised to match any donations (except donations from my relatives) to Blessing Hands up to $25,000 before December 31, 2006. The checks need to be written to Founding Family Foundation. You can see their web page at http://foundingfamily.org.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Recent Trip to Yangshuo County, China

In late March several people from Morehead went to Yangshuo to dedicate 93 Sister Cities Wheelchairs that Morehead gave to Yangshuo's handicapped citizens. While I was there as a Sister Cities tour member, I was able to visit several schools and meet our Blessing Hands children and their teachers and principals. I gave flags to each school and other small gifts such a Christmas CDs and candy. The Education Department opened their resouces to us to make our visit a success. Seeing the children in person was so much better than seeing their pictures. I could match their faces with thank you letters and even got to bless some of them with English names. Seeing their schools and homes also helped me understand their lives. We were given a royal welcome everywhere.

Qu Ling Zhu

Sister Thelma Oney, my minister, went with us on the trip to observe the Blessing Hands work. Here she is pictured with Qu Ling Zhu and her grandmother. Ling's tumor has been removed, but fluid has filled the void leaving her looking about the same as before the operation. She will have a second plastic surgery operation six months after the first one to correct her facial features and make her look normal again.

She wrote us a very good thank you letter, saying that she could talk much better now. Her grandmother gave us oranges and locally made sweets. She and Ling came to our hotel later bringing more harvest gifts to say thank you. Ling had just been to the doctor for a check up and was excited to meet us personally and entertain us in her small home near the Xingping school.

Loving Hearts Forever

The principal of Xingping Primary School made this lovely poster for us. It can be translated roughly as "the loving hearts of the world's people go hand in hand forever." We have it posted on the wall at church now. I had to iron it after it had a rough trip in my suitcase.

Xingping Primary School

We were delighted to find Qu Ling Zhu back in her regular school class. She is wearing a red hat to hide her shaved head. These children gave me drawings, and we gave them Beanie Babies and candy. Sister Cities also gave this school a computer that we got to present. I am also chairman of the Yangshuo Committee of Morehead Sister Cities, and we often work together to bless the children in Yangshuo.

Sally

Sally was reciting her self introduction when she started to cry. She was telling me the problems in her family that made it necessary for her to have Blessing Hands' support and how much she needed the tuition support. Her struggle to stay in school must have been very hard. She was doing very well with her English up till then. I couldn't help but cry with her.

Children Need More Than Tuition

I couldn't resist holding Sally in my arms when she burst out crying. She was so grateful for our help, and pressure can be very strong in China's competive testing system. She needs more than the money that helps her know that she can succeed. Being able to be there to hug her was a very special moment. I hope to find her a pen pal who she can share her hopes, sorrows, and dreams with. Amy, her teacher, was given stamps, so the children can afford to write letters to America.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yangshuo Experimental Middle School of Foreign Studies

These are the Blessing Hands students at Yangshuo Experimental Middle School of Foreign Studies. This middle school has over 3,000 students and employs native born English speakers. Anyone wanting to teach in Yangshuo for 6 months or a year would be welcomed at this school. The school has recently added new air conditioned apartments for foreign English teachers.

These students study hard to pass college entrance exams and seek to do excellent work. Several of them said that English was their favorite subject. They can write English very well. Without our help it would be difficult for these students to remain in school after age 15 when government tuition stops. Blessing Hands will pay their tuitions in higher middle school, so they can continue to advance toward their college goals.