Welcome to our Blessing Hands Blog

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

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