Dear contributor to the Campaign 105 initiative at IPODERAC,
My name is Frankie Martinez. I've been a supporter of the kids at IPODERAC since 2009, and in that capacity, currently I serve on the board of the IPODERAC's Children Fund.
This letter serves to share a bit of my own experience in and around IPODERAC and, above all, to say thank you for your generous support of the boys and girls who live there. Your participation in Campaign 105 at IPODERAC goes to support the life-changing work happening at a place that is so special to so many of us.
Through the educational programs at IPODERAC, I have seen first-hand what disruption to the generational poverty cycle looks like. I have witnessed what happens when kids like those that come through the doors of IPODERAC are provided the support they need to change their life’s trajectory. Simply put, when they get a chance, amazing things happens. Your donation goes to the sustainability of this work and the impact it will continue to have for years to come.
I first visited IPODERAC 14 years ago, arriving and living there as a volunteer. The experiences from that time are those that I keep with me, that drive the work I do today, supporting public school systems in building equity and capacity for some of our most marginalized groups. I could tell you a million stories from my numerous visits to IPODERAC throughout the years, but I want to share just one.
I was staying in the San Juan house, the building where the youngest boys who arrive to IPODERAC live. Walter came to the orphanage in 2009, shortly after I did on that particular visit. He was channeled to IPODERAC by the DIF, the Mexican equivalent to the Administration for Children and Families, and he couldn’t have been more than 6 years old.
I remember how quiet Walter was, how long it took him to begin to loosen up in front of the other boys, how he often preferred to be on his own watching the others play, and the times he would just lay in his bed with his hands behind his head while staring at the ceiling. I also remember how excited he was to find out he was going to school, and the joy he had in doing schoolwork. I remember how, when Walter did finally loosen up, he would love it when we blasted music from the house and would dance alongside the other kids to each tune that was played! If there’s one word to describe Walter as he emerged from his shell, it’s that he was profoundly kind.
A few months ago, several of us from the ICF board had the opportunity to visit IPODERAC. It was a homecoming for former residents and a celebration for us all – including the current kids, the board, and visitors like myself. There were more than 80 guests in attendance. It was amazing to see so many boys who had lived at IPODERAC come back as men and bring their families to show where they had grown up, to reminisce on old memories with their brothers, and of course, to get back on the field to play soccer where they had done so for so many years.
And still living at IPODERAC was Walter, 14 years later. By this point he was one of the oldest boys there. He told me about how he had finished his studies and would soon be transitioning to being a nurse technician. Through this process he would be leaving the orphanage and living independently, along with hoping to start a family of his own. Before me was confident, capable young man, and he was kind as ever. I am beyond proud of the man he has become and all the boys that have passed through the physical and emotional support of IPODERAC.
During my visit, I learned that it wasn’t until just a few years ago that Walter finally found his family. At long last, he had the opportunity to ask the questions he held within himself for all those years. Among them were why did his parents abandon him, and why him when his siblings remained? He may not have gotten the answers he wanted, but he did get a chance to tell his family how grateful he was for having ended up at IPODERAC -- how he earned an education, grew in a loving environment, and found a home with more brothers than he could have imagined. And that as result, Walter quietly came away with the impression that his condition was in some ways better than that which it might have been had he remained at home.
Today, I have the privilege of serving on the board of the IPODERAC's Children Fund, alongside some incredible colleagues, all with their own stories and ties to IPODERAC and all with enduring commitments to continuing to support the boys and girls who live there today.
Above all, we’re tremendously grateful for your contribution to IPODERAC through Campaign 105 so that kids like Walter get the chance they deserve.