One area of GATE Charitable Giving is called Cherie’s Kids, which is a Youth Leadership Formation Program begun in 2008 in honor of Cherie Pierson-Smith, a Philadelphia woman who loved and served youth during her lifetime.
Below is a letter explaining the genesis of the program and the effect of this program on the lives of Salvadoran youth. We invite you to be as generous as you can in supporting this transformative work.
Marie Des Jarlais, FSPA
In February 2009, Theresa O’Connor and Patricia Jackson went to El Salvador with GATE, a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides immersion experiences for folks from the U.S. and Canada to Latin America. GATE also collects & distributes monies for the support of water projects, social justice reform, scholarships and youth education programs.
The work they are involved in with GATE is a project named “Cherie’s Kids”, a youth leadership formation program. The purpose of “Cherie’s Kids” is to raise money that will be used to sponsor workshops and follow up groups for at risk teens living in poverty in El Salvador. The weekend workshops will teach them leadership, self empowerment and life skills. The teens then go back into their villages to form and facilitate groups with pre-teens (8-14), to teach and embody what they have learned. It provides them with the tools to develop spiritual and social values that enable the youth to be of service in their communities and become mentors and agents of positive change within their social structure. Without these leadership training experiences and support for the building of healthy peer groups, the youth have a greater risk of falling into addiction, gangs and living on the streets without hope for a better life or future.
Theresa and Carlos Garcia co-founded “Cherie’s Kids” in 2008 in honor of Theresa’s good friend Cherie Pierson-Smith. Before her untimely passing in 2007 (due to illness), Cherie expressed her great love for children in the way she was able to transform the hearts, spirits and lives of many young people. The program was launched in 2008 and four weekends were held with a total 125 teens attending and following up with next steps.
Above left: Cheryl Pierson-Smith. Above right: Theresa O'Connor and Carlos Garcia.
Part of Theresa’s and Patricia’s experience in El Salvador this February was to record footage of the youth leadership program and to do interviews with the teens, in order to make a documentary. This will then be taken into schools and churches as part of a presentation here in the US. In this way we will be able to link the children and adults here with our sisters and brothers in El Salvador.
We invite you to contribute to this life changing leadership work by making a tax deductable donation. Your donation is 100% applied to the youth program through GATE. It costs $40 per teen to attend a weekend and $1600 for each weekend program of about 45 teens. You may consider sponsoring a whole weekend, which is a powerful way to honor the important, life changing people in our lives, whether they are still living or have passed on. Information about those being honored can be forwarded to Carlos to share with the youth, giving them yet another example of how one person’s life can positively affect and support the lives of many others.
To make a tax deductable donation, click here. By check: write check to GATE, on memo line write Cherie’s Kids. Mail to: GATE Charitable Giving, 912 Market Street: La Crosse, WI 54601
We thank you and appreciate your loving support of the work we are doing. With each life that is changed, we are that much closer to improving and uniting our global family.
With much joy, gratitude and love,
Theresa & Patricia
Carlos with Cherie's kids.