Sunday, November 24, 2013

Local Students respond

November 24th 2013
We are all aware of the tragedy brought about by typhoon Yolanda. This disaster caused so much suffering, pain, grieving to our “kababayan” in Visayas. Gratefully, the communities in which TIH currently works were not in the direct path of the storm and the empowering work of education, nutrition, and job training continues. Despite their poverty and the urgency of their own needs, these communities have told TIH that they want to help us help their neighbors. In fact, they are already doing so. Students at Harris Memorial College, our Philippine partner in Upper Javier, gave up meals (which are quite meager to begin with) and donated the money from their meals to pack relief bags for families in Visayas
As of now DAMBANA volunteers are on their way to Eastern Visayas to give the much needed relief to the victims.Some students joined the caravan for delivery to the impacted area of eastern Visayas, approx 13-1/2 hour drive, or 839 km (521 miles).You can join the students at Harris and give families living in Visayas a relief package for as little as the cost of one meal. You can join our communities in the Philippines, by skipping one meal and donating th proceeds to Together in Hope. For as little as $18 you can give a family of 6 enough food for 3 days along with other necessary supplies. Donate the cost of your meal here: and select 'Philippines: Typhoon relief and community development' under programs.

Typhoon Haiyan

November 21st 2013

On November 8th, Typhonn Haiyan hit the Philippines with sustained winds of over 195 miles per hour making it one of the strongest Typhoons to ever hit land.13 million people have been affected by the typhoon, according to a situation report by OCHA on Saturday. Of those affected, 4.9 million are children; 1.5 million are children under the age of five who are at risk of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM).Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, was historic in its scope, with experts including NASA concluding it may be the most powerful tropical cyclone to ever make landfall.Our communities in the Philippines were in the path of the storm. We are so thankful that the storm bypassed them and none of the community members were among the injured.

Together in Hope is working to provide assistance to those affected by the Typhoon. If you would like to support this mission please make a check payable to Together in Hope memo 'Typhoon relief' and mail it to Together in Hope, 1250 Wood Branch Park Drive, suite 625, Houston, Texas, 77079 or alternatively make an online donation through our website: and select 'Typhoon relief' under programs.

Together in Hope will be helping with the long term efforts working with local Filipinos to rebuild the communities in the coming months. We are looking for runners to run in the Woodlands marathon on March 1st to help us raise funds for the ongoing work of Together in Hope in the Philippines and long term recovery work in Visayas. There are a number of different levels that you can participate in: 2k, 5k, half marathon and full marathon.!

Thank you everyone for your emails, texts and calls regarding the Philippines and how you can help. Please keep all those affected in your prayers and thoughts.

World Food Day

October 16th 2013

Today celebrates the 32nd Annual World Food Day, this years focus is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.” This means that to live in a world free of hunger, we must create food systems that ensure a plentiful supply of nutritious food with minimal impact on our environment. According to WorldfooddayUSA *868 million people in the world are hungry 

*One out of every four children under the age of five is stunted.
*1.4 billion people are overweight. Of these, one‐third are obese. 
*Malnutrition costs the global economy $3.5 trillion per year or $500 per person.
*40 percent of food is wasted in the United States. Consumers have the power to create a more sustainable food system by minimizing their food waste.
These numbers are shocking, but if we can all come together, we can strengthen national and international solidarity in the fight to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty. You can start by building awareness and spreading the word via social media.

This World Food Day use the hashtag #WFD2013 to promote the day and key messages about hunger, nutrition and sustainability.  In addition, we hope that you will use the hashtag #hungerto to to share your passion for change with others.  We hope that twitter will be lit up with these statements of deep  desire and commitment to making a difference.  They can be an inspiration to keep the momentum of engagement beyond World Food Day.  Here are some examples of the wordplay that can be achieved with the #hungerto slogan:  
#Hungerto learn more about nutrition?  
We #hungerto create a more sustainable planet.  
I #hungerto do more. I #hungerto be the change.  

Be more aware of the products you buy and the amount of food that you waster. Together if we cut back just a little bit and support fair trade products we can help decrease hunger and poverty. Join the movement today! 

Women of Faith- Breaking the stained glass ceiling Katie Tong- South West Village News

Everyone knows a dollar doesn’t go far in today’s world, but that didn’t stop Pastor Diane McGehee, who spent the last month limiting her daily food budget to just that amount in support of 1000 Filipino Points of Light, a fundraiser for McGehee’s non-profit group, Together in Hope. McGehee co-founded Together in Hope with her husband in 2007 following a trip to Rwanda and Uganda where the poverty and devastation from the recent civil war left McGehee with strong impressions and overwhelming questions.“My husband and I, we have been very blessed, but we realized even if we gave everything we have, it wouldn’t make a dent.” From this realization, Together in Hope was born. According to McGehee, Together in Hope is about participating in “a conversation with the community”, letting them identify not only their needs, but their solutions.“We wait to be invited,” McGehee says “We don’t go in and try to fix people. They don’t need to be fixed. We want to find out how to empower the resources that you have.”

The organization focuses on developing programs specific to the needs of individual communities. These include Jessica’s Table, a nutritional program in Malis, three preschools and two sewing centers in Rizal and Bicol in the Philippines, a community center in El Salvador and a youth center for at-risk children in Ethiopia. McGehee calls the construction of the sewing center a “typical model.” Rather than build the center themselves, Hope brought only a single engineer and contractor from the outside, using the fruits of their fundraising to train and hire local labor. We don’t want to do for people what they can do for themselves,” McGehee explains. “That takes away their dignity. We want to help them do for themselves what they didn’t have the opportunity to that they can determine their own future.” 

Dignity and self-empowerment are critical issues to McGehee, who was exposed early to the realities of inequality and the underprivileged. “My father was a pastor in Georgia during the Civil Rights movement, “she relates. “He marched on Selma. We had a cross burned on our lawn one time... it really served to form my fundamental understanding of faith and justice.” Following in her father’s footsteps, McGehee enrolled in Princeton’s School of Divinity, leaving one year short of graduation to pursue a different career path with the same goal. “At that time, there weren’t many programs at Princeton Seminary,” says McGehee of her desire to find an active outlet for her ideals. On the advice of mentors at Princeton, McGehee applied to Harvard where she earned her law degree. As a lawyer, McGehee says, “I was able to pursue faith and justice in a practical way.” She credits her move to Houston in the early 90’s to the city’s “extremely progressive legal market,” which allowed the then single-mother to support herself while raising her four boys. These days, while McGehee is still a licensed attorney, she has since returned to a role in the ministry. In addition to working as Hope’s executive director, McGehee served as pastor of Bellaire’s United Methodist until recently accepting a position as the church’s Director of Missions for the Houston area. The 1000 Filipino Points of Light campaign is her latest project, with a goal of raising $50,000.00 by the end of September. According to McGehee, that amount will fund Hope’s educational, nutritional, and job training programs in the Philippines for an entire year. “Half the world’s population lives on less than a dollar a day,” McGehee points out. As for her attempt to relate to that experience, living on a dollar a day with a diet primarily made up of rice and beans, McGehee says “This was a chance to enter that space.” Although, she is quick to add, “I knew I could quit at any time. I knew I had a choice. I can’t ever fully enter that space of knowing what it is to be hungry.” Still, McGehee says, it allowed her to raise the question of what it would be like. “I have a new appreciation of what it must mean to eat out of a garbage can,” she says, recalling one day last month as she watched a diner throw half a meal into the trash can. “I thought, I could have eaten that. At one time that would have been repulsive to me. But if that’s repulsive for us, why do we think it is acceptable for someone else?” 

One of the hardest aspects of her dollar days, she says, was not having enough calories to function well when both body and brain were lacking the necessary fuel. “It was mentally exhausting,” she says. “In order make the money go, you go for what fills you up, what will give you the most calories. Very often, that is not what is nutritious. My body craved nutrients.”She describes the day she spent 69 cents of her daily quota on a banana as an “extravagance,” going on to describe how crucial proper nutrition is to brain development in children. “You know the expression, teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for life...” McGehee says. “I believe in that, for the most part. But while people are learning to fish, they still have to eat. And they have to have access to the pond. That is a lot of what Together in Hope is about, helping provide access to the pond.” McGehee describes her dollar -a- day experiment as “a faith journey, “her personal means of deepening her understanding and fueling her desire to fight for justice. But if McGehee’s efforts do spread awareness and encourage empowerment in others, traveling from deep inside a heart and all the way to the Philippines, then perhaps a dollar a day can go pretty far after all. bDonations for 1000 Filipino Points of Light can be made online at Points-Of-Light-Campaign or by mail to: Together in Hope, 1250 Wood Branch Park Drive, Suite 625, Houston, TX 77079 (Memo line: “1000 Points Campaign”).

The Jessica Pottinger Memorial Tournament was a great success

September 18th 2013

On September 14th, Together in Hope was a benficary for the first annual Jessica Pottinger Memorial Golf Tournament. The event was a great success with 104 players taking part and over 40 guests for the lunch reception. A huge thank you to Heidi and Travis Pottinger for putting the event together. We would also like to thank all who sponsored this event; People’s Mortgage, VW Avondale, Summit Resources, New Age Cosmetic Surgery and laser centre, Cropper’s Nogales, The Hoffman group, Gary Pottinger Real Estate & Construction, The Pottinger Group at Keller Williams; Jim Click Automotive Team, Westmark Wealth Management; Chevron Rio Rico, Horne Ford.
Thank you to all involved and for a wonderful day!

Together in Hope honored as 2013 Top Rated non profit

 August 28th 2013

Together in Hope announced today that it has been honored with a prestigious 2013 Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations. “We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2013 Nonprofit,” says Laura Power, Program Director, Together in Hope. ‘We are proud of our accomplishments this year, including our recent trip to El Salvador where we provided free medical and dental care to over 500 patients who had never seen a doctor or dentist before' 

The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that Together in Hope received – reviews written by volunteers, donors and clients. People posted their personal experience with the nonprofit. For example, Dr Teresa Duryea who recently travelled to El Salvador wrote , ‘I was one of the volunteer team that recently traveled to the community of Alta Mira Flores in El Salvador to provide health care, dental screening, exercise fun, and education to the children and families in the area. Together in Hope is a wonderful nonprofit that focuses on giving educational and nutritional support, plus offers access to health and dental care to communities in El Salvador, the Philippines, and Ethiopia. One of the great features of this organization is the longitudinal relationships built with these communities’ 

While the Top-Rated Awards run through the end of October, Together in Hope was part of the inaugural group to qualify for the year.“Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, “People with direct experience with Together in Hope have voted that the organization is making a real difference.” Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence that this is a credible organization. The reviews by volunteers, clients and other donors show the on-the-ground results of this nonprofit. This award is a form of recognition by the community

What if "each one took one"

August 15th 2013
I am blessed to have lots of loving family, friends and colleagues who care about my health. They are all interested in this campaign and how I am faring on $1 a day. In fact, more accurately, they are all quite concerned that I might be risking my health by eating on a dollar a day for 30 days (with 4 feast days spread throughout). Nutritionally, it is a close call, but I am healthy and this will be over in a couple of weeks. So, unlike those actually living in poverty, I am going to be fine - a little bit skinnier perhaps, but I can make it up when I am done with this fast. The poor cannot - their health is impacted. Some of my friends and family have asked - "well if we bought it for you, it would not cost you anything so you could eat it right?" Not really - that would be cheating, I think. But their suggestion, combined with their concern for my health, did give me an idea - What if each one of us decided to be concerned about the nutritional well-being of just one person living in poverty in the world and made it our business to provide enough food for the both of us - "each one takes one". I am a United Methodist pastor and there are over 7 million United Methodists in the United States. Some of those United Methodist members are probably living in poverty, but even if we took two-thirds of that number, it would be 4.6 million people - what if 4.6 million United Methodists in this country made it their business to make sure that one other person in the world living in poverty had enough to eat for their lifetime - that would change 4.6 million lives! And then if you spread that to all the members of the other Christian churches in the United States and then to other religions, whose members also care about the dignity and God-breathed sacredness of every life, and even if only 2/3rds of that number were wealthy enough to support the nutritional needs of one other person - we would make a huge dent in changing the world. That is the idea of Together in Hope - we all have a part to do and if we all just do our part - we don't have to do it all, we can impact the well-being of the whole. Together, we could change the world - it is certainly something to think about.

Calories Count

August 12th 2013

I was at the low end of my healthy weight when I started this fast of eating on a dollar a day a little over 2 weeks ago. I have lost weight that I don't need to lose, even with 2 feast days included. (Unlike my brothers and sisters who don't eat this way by choice, I can gain it back in a couple of weeks when this is over - they can't.) How do kids grow when they don't have enough to eat? I am hungry most of the time - my body feels like its "eating itself" looking for calories. It makes me understand why people with few resources eat lots of white rice, potatoes, and heavy carbs, even though they don't have much nutritional value - they fill you up and they have calories! When buying highly nutritional food takes most of your income and means you don't get enough calories, you have to buy the other stuff just to make it. No wonder kids struggle in school. How can you sleep or pay attention when your body is struggling to find enough caloric energy to just maintain? There is enough food in the world - we have to find a way to share it.

Blowing a Whole Day's Budget on a Banana

August 8th 2013

I am hungry tonight. It's my own fault. I had my breakfast portion of rice and beans before I headed off to an all day seminar. I had with me my container of rice and beans so that I would not be tempted to eat the box lunch that I knew they would have for me. I stopped for gas about 45 minutes later and there was a banana sitting on the counter - $.069. My body really wanted the banana (nutritionally that is probably accurate); My taste buds wanted the banana and my stomach wanted the banana. The banana won. That meant that I was done eating for the day. Not a good choice - or was it? It does mean that I am hungry tonight, but I think my body probably did need something in that banana and it tasted so so good! Today made me think about times when I have seen the poor eating things that seemed a bit extravagant and perhaps unfairly wondering why they would be so foolish as to spend what little money they had to eat that. After today, I think I at least have a different perspective. My take on it? Sometimes we need to indulge in foolish extravagance. When life is tough all the time; when every day is a struggle to just get by; when every penny has to be counted day after day after day; sometimes life requires that we blow it on a banana - tomorrow we may go back to struggling every day to make it on a little rice and a few beans; Tonight we might be hungry; but for one moment, we knew the pleasure of a delicious banana. That was a good thing.

Joining in

August 5th 2013
A friend called me today and said, "Diane, I don't want to just write a check - how can I participate?" We talked and here is what she decided to do. I think its a great idea - so feel free to join her. My friend Mireya is going to try to eat for a dollar for as many meals as she can, maybe just one day, maybe just one meal for several days. Whatever she saves by eating for just a $1 that day or meal, she is going to donate. Even if you don't want to eat for $1 or can't for many good reasons, health being one of them - DO NOT do anything like this unless you are healthy enough to do it without harming yourself - you could eat a little less than you normally do and donate whatever you saved by eating less. The most important thing, however, beyond NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT WOULD CAUSE YOU HARM, is to eat intentionally and with gratitude for all the hands that brought that food to our table and to pray for those who as we eat, don't know when they will eat again - not as a guilt thing, but to help us stay conscious and because I believe that God answers prayer.