An Introduction to Families With Heart

Families With Heart grew out of a vision to help special needs children and adults in Ecuador.  The passion to help came from years of working for a social service mission group in Santo Domingo, Ecuador.  Two cases in particular kept the focus on finding a way to continue to help even after moving to the United States.  While answering a call to check on a special needs boy, the child was discovered in horrible circumstances.  His leg was bound by rope to a bed post with a mattress on the floor and a dish next to the mattress that would remind you of a dog dish.  The other case involved two girls about 6 and 8 years old, sisters, and both with mental disabilities.  They had been sexually abused by their father and an uncle.  Everyone in the neighborhood knew and finally someone asked for help.  Both cases and many more were given the help they needed but many more situations were, and are, constantly found.

In December of 2011 we organized a trip to Ecuador for Montana Dental Outreach.  This trip brought a group of Carroll College students, dentists and volunteers to spend a week bringing dental services to over 300 individuals in two communities in the coastal region of Ecuador. This trip reminded us of the high percentage of special needs individuals in this area and clarified the vision to find families in the United States to sponsor individuals in Ecuador in need of physical, occupational, or language therapy, prescription medications or other basic unmet needs.  We decided the only thing missing from that vision was action.

We started taking action on January 17th, 2012 by getting some basics on paper and coming up with a name for the organization. We reached out to friends; asking them to join us in organizing. They graciously agreed and we started moving forward.  The relationship that we have with some wonderful, dedicated friends in Ecuador makes for a trusted connection to bring help from friends in the United States to the needs in their community.

Our first trip with Montana Dental Outreach introduced us to the International Club at Carroll College, the group that organized the students for that trip as well as our second trip with them in January of 2013.  When they learned of our newly formed organization, Families With Heart, they introduced us to Narrate Church in Helena and thanks to the efforts of all; the organization began to take life.  This small group has taken the reins; leading us to a number of sponsor families and a recent trip organized by Narrate to build a home for a family with a special needs child.

While this is brief we hope this introduces you to Families With Heart.  Our goal is to continue to bring assistance to individuals and families in need in Ecuador and we can’t do it alone.  We hope you and your family will join us by sponsoring a child, giving a one-time donation or joining us on a trip.  There are other ways anyone can help, please contact us for more information.  More details are provided in the following if you care to read on:

Families With Heart works with two organizations in Ecuador.  The first is “FASCA” (Fundaccion Accion Social Caritas; Foundation for Social Charitable Action).  This organization has provided social services in and around Santo Domingo de los Tschachilas for more than 20 years.  Their projects include a center for nutritional recuperation, orphanage, adoption agency, therapy center for disabled children, along with several others.  While started as part of the Saint James Mission Society of Boston it is now part of the Catholic diocese of Santo Domingo.

The second organization is a non-denominational foundation called “El Arca” (The Arch).  This organization has an 11 bedroom group home for disabled adults who are unable to live on their own.  This is a young organization with goals to build similar homes in other regions of Ecuador.  They were originally funded by the Ecuadorian Government but now rely strictly on donations.

Through these trusted organizations we are fortunate to know the status of our sponsored children upon request.  We have a volunteer representative from Families With Heart travelling a minimum of 3 times a year to physically review the status of each case.  This person brings the money to pay for the therapies or services for each case and verifies that progress is being made.

Each child has different needs and the funds from the sponsor will go toward those needs.  For example:  One might be in need of physical therapy and medications while another needs language and behavioral therapy.  Some might need assistive devices such as wheel chairs, arm or leg braces among others.  Sign language is our newest endeavor as several families have been found to have deaf children and no one in the family has learned formal sign language.  We have recently funded two local people to be trained as sign language instructors and they will conduct classes for families with that need.  Every trip seems to bring to light a new need and we plan to address those as they come to our attention.  

We are often asked the question:  Why should we help in Ecuador when there is so much need here in the U.S.?  We understand the needs here and all of us in our organization are involved in helping here as well; however, the answer is that there are many resources for help here in the U.S. that are lacking in Ecuador, and other parts of the world, especially when it comes to mentally disabled persons who can’t speak for themselves.  

We thank-you for taking time to get to know us better and are available to answer any questions you might have.

The volunteers of Families With Heart

Families With Heart