Gud Foundation Anniversary December 20th: First Year in Review

Gud Foundation Anniversary December 20th: First Year in Review

i Dec 18th No Comments by

by Laura Gudmundson-Tillson, Gud Foundation Executive Director

Our first anniversary for the Gud Foundation is December 20th

 

Already? YES! And we are simply amazed at how much has been accomplished in this year that has gone by us so quickly. To catch you up, here is our very first year in review.

 

The Gud Foundation began to raise funds for girls education through the resale of found objects at a store in Escondido, CA. The money raised went to meet some immediate needs for the young girls at Casa de Jesus in Morelia, Mexico. Read the post “Resale Items Fund Amenities for Girls Education” for the story of our early fundraising efforts.

A space for girls to learn

 

Shortly after the start of 2014, our new blog and Facebook page went online. The Gud Foundation’s board members began diligent work towards what would be our biggest hope for 2014: a new library and learning center for the student residents of Casa de Jesus.

 

In February we raised over $3,000.00 at our first annual fundraising salon event held in our home. I was so pleased and honored by the support of local small businesses and friends who understand that educating girls leads to empowered nations.
We obtained the architectural designs for the library and in March 2014 the board approved  the construction of the library. Finally, the hope of a place where these young students could read and learn and study was becoming real.

 

I travelled to Mexico in April 2014 to visit Casa de Jesus in  Morelia and Pachuca, Mexico which is the location of a second Gud Foundation girls education project.  From those travels I brought back photos and videos that told the story of many girls who live there (past and present).
We also met a self-employed single mother who told me her story and how grateful she is for programs like ours that send girls to school.

 

Shoes lead to cash, and a building!

 

In July, we began making a list of items that would furnish the library and learning center we were working to build. A computer was a key necessity! So the Gud Foundation partnered with Shoes With Heart to collect gently used shoes that we could donate for cash. The fundraiser ran from August to September and we collected 1430 pounds of shoes!

 

At the same time, construction of the new library began in August and by mid September it was completed. It was so exciting to post photos of the library’s building progress, including all the excited faces of the girls who would enjoy and benefit from the space!
The library is beautiful and fully functional.  It is used as a learning center where the girls study or take classes.

 

Our year is at an end, their learning is just beginning

 

Earlier this month I made my way back to Morelia to make an official finish of the library project with the purchase of the computer and some furniture. A plaque was posted in the space: “Gud Foundation Biblioteca”. We can all be honored knowing that students will use the space to its fullest potential. Here is a video I took of the Blessing Ceremony for the library. I love how the priest blessed the students AND the space! I think he has the right idea.

This is a completion of our dream of helping educate girls at Casa de Jesus by enhancing their learning experience.
This was an outstanding first year! I am grateful to our supporters and organizers who enabled us to execute our plans with great success. The Gud Foundation exists for girls who live in countries where basic education is rare and often an opportunity they will not likely have.We are looking forward to extending our network in 2015 in an effort to make education accessible for girls in all countries throughout the world. Educate Girls, Empower Nations. Will you join us? Please help us educate girls by making a donation to the Gud Foundation today.Thank you for your support and we will talk again soon!

 

click to learn more about the purpose and vision of the Gud Foundation

Library Construction Update in Pictures: Casa de Jesus Learning Center

i Aug 28th No Comments by

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.

First, here is a video of the space before construction began:

If library construction keeps up this progress, the Learning Center could be complete in September 2014

A student looks on as the ceiling to the Learning Center are being painted prior to installing overhead lighting. Do you think she's ready to get in there and do some homework?

A student looks on as the ceiling to the Learning Center are being painted prior to installing overhead lighting. Do you think she’s ready to get in there and do some homework?

What a difference from when work was begun:

After walls, floors, lighting and and shelves…What’s next?

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.

Click here to get a recap of the Gud Foundation shoe drive and details on how you can help out!

Resale Items Fund Amenities for Girls Education

i May 2nd No Comments by

by Laura Gudmundson-Tillson, Gud Foundation Executive Director

in the beginning, garage sale finds translated to a patched roof and dry clothes for schoolgirls

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.

casa de jesus dryer

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.


There are are no federal funds to help maintain the girls residence

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.  casa de jesus courtyard


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.

casa de jesus Nuns


If you are in the Escondido, CA area, visit Laurel Glen and help us build a library

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.


Nowhere near our gift store? Donate online and help The Gud Foundation support institutions that educate girls.

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 :)

Self-Employed Single Mother Grateful for Program that Sends Girls to School

i Apr 22nd 1 Comment by

mother and daughter street vendors

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

A street vendor since childhood, education was not an option for girls like Gloria


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.”

Casa de Jesus provides a home and education for girls, and peace of mind for Gloria and many parents


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!”

Gloria’s story can be repeated across Mexico and throughout the world


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.

Why did we start in Mexico?


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.


 

 

Educate Girls, Empower Future Women

i Apr 18th No Comments by

by Gud Foundation Executive Director Laura Gudmundson-Tillson

Seeing a full circle of success…life after Casa de Jesus

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.

In her own words: “Cristina” remembers her time at Casa de Jesus Morelia

“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!’”

"Cristina" and Sister Adelita

“Cristina” and Sister Adelita

Exploring Pachuca, Mexico: a Second Gud Foundation Girls Education Project

i Apr 13th No Comments by

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.

Casa Hogar de Protección Juvenil Femenina

After a four hour bus ride to Mexico City, we caught another bus to Pachuca.
The house in Pachuca is also called Casa de Jesus, with the following added:  Casa Hogar de Proteccion Juvenil Femenina….’home protecting young women’.
This site houses primarily teenage girls who are 13, 14 and 15 years old.  They come from disadvantaged backgrounds are considered at risk. The young ladies here are not allowed outside of this home. When they come to live at Casa de Jesus, the girls all sign a document saying they are willing to stay and their parent must also comply by attending parent meetings once a month. The meetings coincide with a visitation day.
girls dormitory

first of two dormitories at Casa de Jesus in Pachuca, Mexico

 

school dormitory

second dormitory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life for at-risk girls living at Casa de Jesus in Pachuca

Every two weeks the girls get to have their families come to them at Casa de Jesus if their grades are good: an “8″ or better in both school and conduct.  In Mexico “5″ is an “F”, and it goes up from there.  They are very motivated to have the opportunity to go home and visit their families.
women making tamales

making fresh tamales to sell to passersby in Pachuca, Mexico

This house has a middle school, an events room, and a fully-equipped kitchen.  The girls learn to make convent cookies, tamales, cakes, flan, atole, candy, candied nuts and then sell the items to people walking by outside their front door.  Last night we were there selling until 8:30pm..and sold out of everything!

The events room is rented for meetings, baptisms, first communions, breakfasts, etc.
The girls go to school after they wake up, do some chores, go to chapel and have breakfast.  Today, they had a field trip to a museum of photography.

school girls cleaning bathrooms before school girls doing laundry before school school girls doing chores

The house is home to 42 girls under 15 years of age. Additionally there are three more girls who are in Preparatory (High) School, and another two girls who are not residents but Mexico’s DIF (family services) has asked Casa de Jesus to keep them until the agency can place them in a more permanent situation. That makes a total of 47 residents at this time in Pachuca. They are cared for by six nuns.
preparatory school girls in Pachuca, Mexico

These three attend Preparatory (High) School at Casa de Jesus in Pachuca

Educating girls is making a difference in the future of Mexico

My visit to Pachuca has been incredibly interesting. This system is powerful. These girls have the opportunity to become women who will make a difference in the future of Mexico.  Just by staying safe and in an environment where continuity and routine allows them to stay focused and go to school.  Here at Casa de Jesus they have a home in a community of other girls who support each other and most importantly, they have women who care for them and love them no matter how bad their circumstances might have been.


Library construction at Casa de Jesus Morelia

As I write this,  I am on my way to Morelia, Mexico and the site of our first girls education project at Casa de Jesus Morelia.  My 83-year-old mother is traveling with me. Mother and I left Pachuca this morning at 11:00.  We arrived in Mexico City around 1:00 pm and have just boarded the bus bound for Morelia. Our trip should take about four hrs travel time. I am looking forward to visiting with the girls in Morelia on Friday. They will be leaving then for their Easter vacation and their mothers will be there to pick them up. During the rest of my visit, I will be meeting with contractors for the new library that our supporters have helped to procure for these girls. It will be exciting to see the build get underway!
Laura Gudmundson-Tillson

Casa de Jesus Library Project Salon Event a Success!

i Feb 25th No Comments by

A place for girls to read and learn

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!

 

Casa de Jesus Library Project video presentation

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.

Many thanks to the event’s sponsors

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.

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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!