I write to you as a youth of whom has been deeply affected and appreciative of all the work Hearts Home has put into my old community and each individual they have touched in their time here. I remember almost everything that we have done which has instilled basic teachings of compassion of others in every step. Much of who I am today can attributed to the time my longtime friends, my family, community, and myself have gained through interacting with them on a weekly and sometimes biweekly basis. As soon as they came, they had made their presence known and took great interest in the youth gathered in the church and created the Hearts Home Youth Group. This resulted in the bonds of meeting those of around my age in the church to become stronger and to this day we remain best friends despite our distance and busy lives. Currently I am a Queens College Student in his Sophomore year studying accounting, a Supervisor at Rite Aid working fulltime, and above all an older brother trying to support his struggling family of 5 including myself.
Instead of becoming a person consumed by work completely and believing that the time I put into my work is enough to raise my younger brothers of 6 and 8 and a sister of 16, the value of spending and making time for my family was instilled by the compassion these missionaries shove into us with every word, action, and prayer. I recall our constant expeditions visiting the elderly at nursing home to either perform or just spend time with them, and our visits to people in our community who were in need of young men to help them around the house, and the times we actually took the time to clean up the litter and overgrowth in our area. Although tiresome and boring to teenagers, they pushed us to open up our hearts and push to help others which in itself brings rewards of thanks and gratitude. As a relatively poor and needy in our own situations respectively each and every missionary pushed those selfish thoughts out and made me personally realize that sometimes you just have to work with what you have, but there is always a capacity to help someone else.
They have taken us on many trips of which my favorite were the camping trips to the ICCC in upstate New York. Who would have thought that a kid from a family unable to support themselves would get the opportunity to go upstate and enjoy the vast fields, forests, and serenity of nature. Then to do it with friends and family, but even with such a treat we still had volunteer work to help around the land. Of course we wanted to play but who could refuse their propositions when they give so much without having much themselves. Although that statement is not entirely true, although similar to our own economic status they were rich in compassion. It was really hard to believe just how they were able to do the things they have with us when they had so little to begin with.
I am forever grateful to the Hearts Home community. They came not even bearing gifts but they came offering their time and hearts to everyone they could reach. Sylvia Mueller, Laetitia Palluat, Theresa, Natalie, Melanie, Sister Regina, Father Paul, Father Gonzac, Former Missionary Giome, and every single one of the Hearts Home members have welcomed us and invested their time in us. They became an extended family that we could turn to when we needed help, although we ourselves could not give much back. Over the 9 years I have known them we have started to grow apart, but my time, lessons, and memories with them will stay with me always. Hearts Home has an immense impact of those in our community even now without their small crew of volunteers. I would love to see Hearts Home continue and at times visit to share my stories, memories, and lessons I have learned throughout my life with the upcoming youth. Although as of now my time is dedicated to, College, Family, and work; I do seek to reconnect with that community and continue to promote compassion in all you do.
I forgot to mention that I partook in this community even when I moved miles away to upper Brooklyn and eventually Upper Queens. They did not stop to reach out, visit, and keep the ties that we have held do sacred. For the majority of the things we have done I’ve had to happily travel a 2 hour trip in order to continue to participate and keep the youth group alive. Why wouldn’t I try to keep the organization that helped me find the best friends I could ever encounter, and bring such joy into my life and the lives of my family. I anything I do there has to be space for compassion and love, I have learned that those qualities actually bring out the best out of a situation, and it’s free. I took the time out of my busy life and in a short hour or so I’ve had this much to say. Unfortunately I need to continue with my studies and cease this letter here; but I assure you that this is just the tip of the ice berg to what these compassionate people have to root themselves into our lives. Not only does home visit poorer countries with children that have less than us, but they have the audacity to reach out to the city kids struggling with our own problems. I couldn’t be prouder, although distant, be part of such an amazing community and be part of all the greatness they have brought to our lives.