by Laura Gudmundson-Tillson, Gud Foundation Executive Director
Executive Director Laura Gudmundson-Tillson was onsite at Casa de Jesus in Morelia last week. She reports that builders are making great progress and brought back a photo update.
Next will come desks, furniture, books….and SHOES? What the Gud Foundation is working so hard now to provide for Morelia’s school girls is computers. To raise money for Learning Center computers, The Gud Foundation’s Shoe Drive is going on now until September 15! We are working with Shoes with Heart to recycle shoes and will be paid by the pound. We are at 20% of our goal.
Bag up all of your unwanted gently used shoes! Tennis shoes, casual shoes, dress shoes, boots, cleats, soccer shoes and any other type of shoes that are in wearable condition.
by Laura Gudmundson-Tillson, Gud Foundation Executive Director
Before we had the capability to accept donations from this blog and Facebook page, much of the funds raised to help educate girls through the Gud Foundation came from a little booth in a San Diego gift shop. I started by purchasing items at garage sales to resell. In the first year we earned enough money to purchase a clothes dryer for the Casa de Jesus girls residence in Morelia, Mexico.
The second year we used some of the money from the sales to purchase tables and chairs for the home. We were also able to buy underwear and socks for the little girls to wear with their school uniforms. Even our family dentist donated a box of toothpaste samples! Then our earnings at the resale booth helped with waterproofing the worn-out rooftop at Casa de Jesus last summer. It was just in time too! Part of the roof at Casa de Jesus was falling in and there was a huge leak that looked like a waterfall. The locals who came into our storefront in California purchased home decor and gift items and helped pay for some of the construction materials to fix that leak.
The nuns at Casa de Jesus in Morelia and other “casas” throughout Mexico receive a stipend from the church. With only 800 Mexican pesos per month (less than $65 US Dollars), the nuns must find a way to keep the house functioning. They meet the needs of the girls through their own efforts, donations and parent contributions.
This system has worked for nearly 100 years! The nuns have a vow of poverty and a mission to keep the girls safe, well cared-for and educated. More than the basics, these nuns provide to them dignity, self respect and knowledge that they are special.
The money to remodel a room at Casa de Jesus into a library and study hall for girls will be funded directly from online donations and sales of the booth. Look for items sold by “Vendor #22.” Proceeds from your purchases go directly to the Gud Foundation’s mission to educate girls. This week our booth has been busy adding many new items. I have bought new jewelry from Bali for the Gud Foundation’s booth as well as a new line of vintage cups and napkins. All are great options for Mothers Day gifts.
There is a “Cruising Grand event every Friday until October. Grand Avenue where our storefront is located will be closed to traffic except vintage cars.. During this event the Avenue is filled with people and so is the store! Some of us vendors are there to meet and greet, and I share as much as I can about The Gud Foundation and its work to support and educate girls. It is very busy! Last week during the event I sold several small items that will be added to the Casa de Jesus Library Fund.
You can make a monthly or one-time donation of any amount. Donations can also be designated specifically for the new library for the little girls in Morelia, Mexico. Keep up with our latest activities, make donations, and interact with us on our Gud Foundation Facebook page. In the future, my hope is to bring the items our store booth for sale online. Until then, you’ll just have to stop by and see us in person
Editor’s note: An interview by the Gud Foundation’s Laura Gudmundson-Tillson from her visit this month (April 2014) at Casa de Jesus in Morelia, Mexico
While visiting Casa de Jesus this month I met a self-employed single mother who works as a street vendor. During the weekdays, Gloria prepares her baskets and maintains the household. Her three daughters reside at Casa de Jesus and attend school. At the end of the week she comes to bring her girls home for the weekends. Her oldest daughter, age 11, helps her sell snacks at a crossroads that leads outside of the city toward Guanajuato.
Gloria was very open about her work and the challenges she faces raising her three girls. Born into an indigenous tribe in Mexico, she speaks Otomi and does not know how to read or write. Vending is the only work skill she has.
“My father would not register me in school. If I went to school he thought I would become a type of person…that was not good. I did not like the idea but I could not do anything about it. It was my destiny, but I do not want to repeat this story with my children.”
Gloria’s younger daughters are ages eight and five. While they and their oldest sister are at Casa de Jesus during the week, Gloria says she is happy that she has a place for her daughters. “It has security, it has everything. They have food to eat and a place to sleep. I want them to have an opportunity. Allow them to get ahead. I do not want them to be like me,” she says. “No one will hire me because I have no schooling. A diploma speaks for you!”
This is why we created the Gud Foundation. We are beginning in Mexico and changing the lives of girls. The Gud Foundation supports institutions like Casa de Jesus. They provide first a safe, happy place for girls to thrive and get the education that was denied to many mothers like Gloria. If you feel encouraged by the work we are doing, please like the Gud Foundation’s Facebook page and we will be encouraged too! Click to find out more about what we do or to make a donation so that more girls can be helped by Casa de Jesus. We are working hard to raise the last of the funds needed to build a library and study area for girls at Casa de Jesus in Morelia.
Keep checking back and I will talk about that next time! Do you have a desire to see more educational opportunities for girls? Leave us a comment and let us know an area where you think girls should be able to go to school
Until then, please view the entire interview with Gloria.
by Gud Foundation Executive Director Laura Gudmundson-Tillson
This week I spent a lot of time reviewing photographs of my recent visit to the homes we support for girls’ education in Mexico: Casa de Jesus Morelia and Casa de Jesus Pachuca. There are a lot of stories I am cherishing from my short time there and I will be sharing them in the coming weeks. One of the many moments I was fortunate to witness was a reunion between Sister Adelita and a former resident I’ll call Cristina, who set out on her own from Casa de Jesus in 1976.
“Cristina” came by Casa de Jesus while I was there on April 12, 2014. She hoped to see someone from her time at Casa and reconnect. She was lucky! Sister Adelita recognized her immediately! Sister Adelita is the only one still alive from that time.
“I remember my father dropped me off, I arrived with my sister, Teofila. I was 12 years old. At that time, we had a primary school on the premises that taught to third grade. Fourth grade and on we would have to leave the premises and attend a school named “Progreso.” Once we graduated from Middle school and Secondary school, we were given lessons in typing and office skills. I left [Casa de Jesus] when I was 18 years old.”
“We lived well; the nuns looked after us and loved us. They made sure we ate well, that we were clean and ready to go to school. They taught us to cook and clean and gave us a moral standard and always maintained our innocence. We learned to be responsible to ourselves and others. When I share my story with others, they say I was brought up in an unrealistic world. They say I was too sheltered… I say ‘my life here in this home was beautiful!’”
Editor’s note: Gud Foundation Executive Director and Founder Laura Gudmundson-Tillson travels to Mexico this week to Pachuca, Mexico to visit the site of a second girls education project. She will also visit Casa de Jesus in Morelia, Mexico to meet with contractors that will begin the work on the new library for the girls there. Laura documents her travels for us and describes life in Pachuca for the girls there.
The Gud Foundation is working to raise funds that will go toward building a library and learning center for the student residents at Casa de Jesus in Morelia, Mexico. Sunday February 16th was our first ever fundraiser for this project. We were so happy to have about 30+ people at the event as we were expecting a number of attendants in the low 20′s. It was encouraging to see that many people in our area understand the link between educating girls and the strength of our future society.
The food and in-kind auction donations were well received and we heard many positive things from attendees both during and after the event. On top of the cultivation that occured we also raised more than twice what we had hoped!
During the event, supporters saw a video of the current learning facilities at Casa de Jesus presented by Gud Foundation Executive Director Laura Gudmundson-Tillson. She outlined the plans for renovating, improving and utilizing the current study area down to nearly every possible square foot showing donors how carefully and thoughtfully their donated funds will be used. Click here to see the architectural plans of the new space. We invite you also to take a few minutes to watch the library project’s video presentation.
So all-in-all our library project salon event was a great success and we are grateful to all who participated and helped organize it.
Please keep up with our new Facebook page to get updates on the Casa de Jesus Library Project. If you would like to get involved and donate to help build the library and learning center click the “Donate Now” button at the top right of the page. Thank you!