HYC Cebu, Philippines: Carolyn Alessi

  • By Hope Worldwide
  • 31 Jan, 2016

“Our human compassion binds us to one another – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Nelson Mandela

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan aka Yolanda, the deadliest typhoon in history, left villages devastated, children orphaned, spouses widowed, and communities grappling with the overwhelming task of rebuilding their lives. This storm completely blindsided these who were unprepared, burrowing a deep feeling of despair and heartache that seemed at the time to be unyielding and relentless.

In many ways, my life in 2013 mirrored the same emotional tragedy of those who survived Typhoon Haiyan. The New Year in 2013 started out with great hopes as my husband, Tom Alessi, and I etched out our short and long term future. We dreamed of volunteering as a family one day to serve those less fortunate.

In June, I was completely blindsided, left in deep despair and feeling lost in the abyss of grief and heartache. My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt when we suddenly lost my seemingly healthy husband of 15 years to an undetected sudden cardiac death. Needless to say, the remainder of that year felt like a horrible movie as I was cast in the unwanted role of a distraught, grieving young widow swallowed up in emotional chaos, with two fearful little girls left confused and dazed by life’s raw reality. A seemingly strong and rooted faith of 25 years that somehow left me wounded and nearly broken seemed to be called into question.

Now, two and half years later, the rebuilding is steady and ongoing in my life and in the lives of the Filipino communities. The typhoon of “loss” seems to be a distant memory to us who have lived through it. The fears have subsided and have since been replaced by the determination to move forward and to find laughter in the smallest joys of life.

The rebuilding of the Filipino communities could not be done on its own but needed the help of compassionate strangers. I knew I could not climb the slippery slope of grief alone. I needed help to tear down the isolating walls that I built around me and to welcome the compassionate and loving arms of those waiting to console us. These very arms represent the arms of our Lord who is full of compassion and mercy.

For us, 2015 has been a year of service. Whenever I felt the wave of grief come crashing through, I remembered Jesus as He fed the 5000 shortly after hearing his cousin John was beheaded (Matt 14:10-21). I would seek out ways to serve, give of my time and money to the family of believers and the mission. The quote I started out with from Nelson Mandela has a deeper meaning to me, as we decided to spend Christmas break serving with the HYC Philippines team.

This was a different kind of Christmas for us as we made our way through the rural communities lined with tin roofed shacks, the compassion we felt for these people hit a chord deep within us. The hope we have in Christ was being poured out on to them through our acts of service. The joy we felt from our love for God which was being expressed through the warmth of our hugs to the children in the poorest communities, to the lonely old man who lost his wife seven years ago and chose the bottle as his only friend, to the family who lost everything in the typhoon who can now enjoy the home we built for them and to the mentally challenged little boy who found his way into my arms and heart, Juwaven aka “Bibi”. My soul continued to be fed when God unexpectedly met my deep need as a mom as I gained insight and sound advice on how to raise future young disciples from two devoted families from San Diego, an elder’s wife from Australia, a father of a teen from Singapore and an Aussie single brother who leads the preteen ministry in his country.

For the past year, I have grappled with the fear of how to raise two preteen girls as an only parent in a world that was determined to swallow them up. These fears were relieved because my girls were surrounded by rising teen and young campus leaders from across the globe who have a contagious zeal for God, an unabashed love for one another, and a deep sense of commitment to live out Jesus’s mission of not only seeking and saving the lost but of responding to the cries of those in need. My girls have living and breathing examples of who they can aspire to be. When my 10 year old says I want to be just like Patty Burrage when I grow up, I know my desire to see them become disciples is within reach, and I would spend every penny I have a thousand times over to give them this opportunity because it gives them a fighting chance to be unified in the Lord with me and their dad some day.

By Shane Engel 17 Oct, 2017

Churches in South Florida are continuing to bring hope to Bolivia through the 5th annual “Celebration of Caring Golf Classic.”  The fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, November 17 on Key Biscayne off of the Miami mainland.

The Golf Classic benefits HOPE  worldwide  Bolivia, providing funding for programs that serve Bolivia’s children and most vulnerable populations. Since HOPEww was established in 2011 in the capital city of La Paz, the country’s health care and social services systems have been positively impacted. The tournament has raised $157,000 since its inception!

There are six levels of sponsorships ($1,500 - $5,000), and individuals can golf for $225. All information is included on the website ( www.CelebrationofCaring.com ), including a registration portal and links to videos, stories and blogs about the work in La Paz. Individuals can also donate through the website.

The Crandon Park golf course is considered one of the most picturesque in Florida. Golfers are surrounded by tropical foliage, mangroves and breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay as they encounter seven saltwater lakes and challenging sand traps during their round.

Former Florida residents Dr. Kevin & Noelle Broyles lead HOPE worldwide  Bolivia. The Duke-educated Dr. Broyles was behind the building of Centro Médico Internacional Hope Clinic in Bolivia, a cutting-edge sustainable social enterprise that will generate revenue to meet increasing medical needs in the La Paz community. CMIHope  is the result of a joint effort between Foundation Arco Iris and HOPE  worldwide  that integrates high quality health services to the population of Zona Sur of La Paz with financial support to the charitable work of HOPEww and Hospital Arco Iris, who partner to serve Bolivia’s large indigent population. 

“Celebration of Caring” welcomes all golfers to join in this “fun”draiser.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 30 Sep, 2017

We have 27 trips all over the world throughout the year. Registration opens on December 1, 2017. Apply early to ensure you get your top choice. Some of our more popular trips fill up within the first month of registration. The Houston Singles Disaster Corps will open registration sooner, as the program will take place early in the year (February).

Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.

So start planning, and start saving! There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance.

By Shane Engel 29 Sep, 2017
UPDATE:  We are happy to announce that we were able to successfully send 16 pallets of direct relief to Puerto Rico today!  2 pallets are scheduled to fly out Saturday, October 14 and the rest will be sent by cargo on Sunday.  Thank you to all who have contributed to these efforts and a special thank you to the South Florida Churches of Christ for their generosity and the lending of the Broward Church building for our staging area!  Please keep Puerto Rico in your prayers as the recovery effort will take months if not years.  
By Shane Engel 22 Sep, 2017

 "We are grateful that our twin Island Trinidad and Tobago has been spared this season and that we are in a position to help our brothers and sisters throughout the Caribbean.  We have joined forces with a local NGO called ITNAC an acronym for "is there not a cause' They are known here as first responders for providing assistance in disaster stricken Caribbean areas. We collect relief items and food and have had our volunteers there daily . Last night we got the assistance of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment who sent their large trucks and military staff to transportation water and clothing to the port to be taken to Dominica.

One of our sisters Kendra Blanchard, who lives on the Island of Grenada  (35 minutes flight from Trinidad) parents live in Dominica, which was badly destroyed by Hurricane Maria. They are alive but their home was damaged and they are staying with neighbours.  [Kendra] is attempting to go.  Together with ITNAC we plan to charter a boat from Trinidad which can carry supplies and relief workers to Dominica.

We are engaging local donors for housing and medical supplies as well as food and water to be taken on the chartered vessel.
I have been sending regular updates on t e HOPE w orldwide Trinidad and Tobago Facebook page. You can add me on both to keep abreast if you would like.

I am very grateful that you have made contact with us and for the support offered. I am attaching a few pics of the work and our progress."

Kirtia Arthur
HOPEww Trinidad and Tobago


By Shane Engel 19 Sep, 2017

A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico today (Tuesday, September 19, 2017). The earthquake buckled buildings, cracked foundations and brought rubble down on all sides of Mexico City. The U.S. Geological Survey has said the quake had magnitude 7.1 and was centered near Puebla.  At this time dozens of people are reported dead and many are hurt and missing.  We have local chapter partners and church leaders that we have been able to make contact with, but your prayers are needed more than ever.  

Please check back for updates.  

Visit our Global Disaster Response page to donate and empower a quick response and recovery!

Be well! 

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 16 Sep, 2017

My name is Michelle Charon. My husband and I have a full house with four teenage daughters.

Our older three girls are disciples of Christ, and the youngest one is on her way to making the

same decision to have her own relationship with God, and become a disciple herself. We are a

busy household, and love serving in the Kingdom of God. My husband is a deacon and

together, we lead our local Chapter which helps serve with Hope worldwide in our local

community, as well as helping to lead our Youth and Family Ministry. We have strived to raise

our girls to love serving, and pray that they are drawn to those in need. We also pray they

continue to use their lives to serve those less fortunate than themselves, to show Jesus’ love

where hearts are hurting and in need of the truth, to show people that God loves them, is

paying attention, and will give them comfort through disciples who are willing to show His love.

We have been so fortunate to have made the decision to send our girls to HOPE Youth Corps

every year. Our older three have been on a total of seven trips between them, and our

youngest cannot wait until it is her turn to go and serve when she is old enough.


In sending our girls on these trips to Denver, Philadelphia (twice), Mexico, Vancouver, Dallas,

and Bolivia so far, we have seen changes in them that only God can provide. Once their eyes

were opened to serving in such a deep and powerful way, and how much good it does for their

hearts and characters, they were hooked on serving with HOPE worldwide!


They have seen things that we could not possibly have shown them while we live in the suburbs

of Massachusetts in our comfortable home with our easy lives. They so look forward to

traveling each summer to a place where they learn something new and challenging about the

people they serve, as well as the spiritual lessons they find, as they give their hearts to the

people and each other, rely on God, work harder than they thought possible, give more of

themselves than they knew they had, and gain so much more as they exhaust themselves to

meet all of the needs.


My girls have come back from HOPE Youth Corps completely different from these experiences.

They love how spiritual the whole crew can be, the new friends they make that love God as

much as they do, the discipleship groups they attend where they can be real, learn to be more

giving, open up about how much it hurts to know they can’t do it all, or make everything better

in one trip.

The bond they form with the people they serve alongside is a very powerful thing. They make

friends that become best friends, closer than they could ever imagine, by having gone through

the same serving experiences. They meet future college roommates, learn to love people they

never would have thought would be a good friend, laugh until it hurts about the memories they

make, skype with their new 20 best friends after the trip is long over, cry because they miss the

bond they made in that new place, fly across the country to visit those new best friends, and

thank God every day for these experiences.


We will forever be grateful for the experiences that HOPE Youth Corps brings and the blessings

that come from serving and bonding, as well as hard work. We have seen our girls cry about

the people they meet that are so in need. They have kept in touch with the children they

mentored, sent packages to the orphanages they’ve left behind, prayed for the families and the

lives they’ve touched, and smiled from so many good memories of times that only they can



If there is one major thing that we think has been the most powerful in helping shape our

daughters into the strong, faithful women they are today, outside of our family, hands down it

would be the spiritual growth they gain from serving and the amazing job that HOPE Youth

Corps has done in making these trips possible.


Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the volunteers and leaders who work with

HOPE Youth Corps. Your work is not in vain, and your sacrifice is changing the lives of the other

volunteers like my girls, as well as changing lives all over the world of those who benefit from

these service trips.


We cannot wait to see our lives change once again as we look forward to joining in as a family

on one of the many opportunities to serve on one of the Volunteer Corps open to families.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 15 Sep, 2017
Zionn Bill (London, UK) shares his about his experience on the Zambia HYC 
By Shane Engel 07 Sep, 2017


Hurricane Volunteer Information

Hurricanes have displaced families, devastated homes, and halted any ability to earn a living. In an instant, this disaster has made what most feared as a worst-case scenario, into a nightmare reality. Many families in Houston have lost everything, they need our help.  HOPE worldwide  is eager to provided necessary resources and manpower to help families rebuild their lives and communities.
Together we can bring hope and make a difference.

Please be aware that the greatest needs at the moment are financial resources, however, if you are arranging in-kind donations of NEW goods please contact Shane Engel (shane.engel@hopeww.org) . We are communicating with our local partners in the disaster area and will determine what items will be most helpful to victims. We will update this website as soon as we have more information.

Thank you so much for your heart to serve. We are going to begin volunteer operations in Texas starting September 15th and will be establishing future dates as opportunities present themselves. Here is what you'll need to know in volunteering for our Disaster Response.

HOPE worldwide USA is organizing two (2) volunteer opportunities
     1. Beaumont, TX Friday, September 15th – 16th
     2. Houston, TX Thursday, September 28th - October 2nd

Volunteers will help to clean out and gut flood-damaged homes and may assist in rebuilding efforts and other duties. Operation Blessing will provide no-cost housing and food for volunteers in Beaumont. HOPEww is assessing the situation in Florida and will communicate to our volunteers as the specifics of these opportunities are determined.

  • Those who wish to volunteer at the Texas locations should carefully review the details below and fill out the volunteer application below.
  • It is ok to arrive a day early if necessary.
  • Registration for volunteering in Beaumont  will close on 9/14 at 4:00 pm EST or when capacity is reached; registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis until volunteer spots are full. Volunteers should arrange and pay for their own transportation to the Beaumont, TX area.
  • Volunteers who are flying or renting vehicles should not make non-refundable arrangements until they receive a confirmation email that their registration was accepted for that specific service event.
  • Beaumont Volunteers should plan to:
  • Arrive at Cathedral Church, 2350 Eastex Freeway - Beaumont, TX 77703 on Thursday, 9/14 before 9:30 pm or Friday morning 9/15 at 7:30 am
  • Leave on Saturday evening, 9/16 or Sunday morning, 9/17.
  • Volunteer housing is provided by Operation Blessing at no cost to the volunteer. Volunteers will be staying in a church fellowship hall - men sleep in one area, women in another.
  • Volunteers will be provided a cot but will need to provide their own bedding including a sleeping bag and pillow.
  • Shower trailers are provided. Volunteers should provide their own toiletries - towel, soap, etc.
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are provided.
  • Minor volunteers aged 15 years or older who are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian may volunteer at the site during the day. However, they must make alternate sleeping arrangements since minors are not permitted in Operation Blessing housing.
  • All volunteers must be 18 years or older to stay in volunteer housing. Operation Blessing and HOPE worldwide have a no alcohol and no tobacco policy.
  • Volunteers must have access to a vehicle throughout their stay. Those flying in may rent a car at their own expense from a local car rental agency. Due to the severity of this disaster, rental vehicles may be difficult to secure in the area, so please reserve your rental vehicle before making flight arrangements. Volunteers may share a vehicle.
  • Volunteers should be in good physical condition and able to work in a construction-type atmosphere in high temperatures.
  • We will provide all necessary equipment.
  • Volunteers should wear long pants and solid, rubber-soled shoes or work boots while serving.
  • Despite the organizers’ best efforts, conditions and work flow at disaster recovery sites can be very fluid. Volunteers should remain flexible and patient throughout their stay.
  • Please do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you receive an email confirmation that your registration was accepted.
  • The Houston accommodations are being finalized and will be announced shortly.
Please click the volunteer application button below to sign up.


September 6, 2017

HOPE worldwide  has been on the ground in Houston, Texas meeting needs and actively organizing volunteer efforts.  The Dallas and San Antonio Chapters have sent groups of volunteers and supplies to help Houstonians recover. HOPE worldwide and the Greater Houston Church are currently working with countless displaced families and individuals who have lost their homes, their cars and their livelihood for the time being.

Austin Wright, a student at the University of Texas San Antonio, started his internship with HOPE ww by organizing 51 volunteers from San Antonio to help with the Harvey relief efforts! The volunteer group was a diverse mixture of college students, young professionals, singles and married couples. They helped six different families in northern and western Houston  clear out the debris from their homes.

Teams of volunteers gutted  houses and took ruined furniture to the curb as you can see in some of the photos. They ripped up flooring, removed  base moldings and cut out damaged sheet rock.. Some houses had to have two to three  feet of sheet rock cut out as that reflected how high the flood waters invaded their houses. In all the neighborhoods, people were working on Labor Day to gut their houses and begin the slow process of rebuilding their houses and their lives.

August 30, 2017

The devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt throughout Texas and Louisiana, as heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are expecting to continue for days.   Although the full extent of the damage and death toll will not be clear for some time, we know that this storm is unprecedented.  HOPE worldwide was able to deploy our HotNews team to Houston and they are gathering footage from the devastation as we speak.  

HOPE worldwide is on the scene in Texas and Louisiana and already responding. In the few days since this storm made landfall, the HOPE worldwide disaster response team made an early needs assessment and started helping to supply food, water, and tools for many affected by the storm. HOPE worldwide is now actively preparing to mobilize our network of amazing volunteers to continue to deliver aid and implement more extensive clean-up and recovery efforts. These efforts are made possible by compassionate donors from around the world and in conjunction with our network of nonprofit partners.

Many of our HOPE worldwide community members in Houston have been affected and we are getting reports of total material loss from many families. There are an untold number of homes and people affected, and the additional flooding and rainfall is set to make the situation even worse.  It is already apparent that recovering from this disaster will take years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.   

HOPE worldwide has boots on the ground in Houston and we will be able to mobilize our volunteers to meet specific needs.  

We will keep you posted!

The HOPE worldwide Team

August 29, 2017

"This disaster is going to be a landmark event." That's how the head of FEMA  described  the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. "This is a storm that the United States has not seen yet," he added.

I’ve lived in Houston for a total of nine years, and have witnessed many incredible storms, hurricanes, and even tornadoes, but nothing close to Hurricane Harvey. The destruction will be as nothing seen before in the U.S.

This morning, a local official  called  the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey "an 800-year event." The National Weather Service  described  the damage as "unprecedented" and "beyond anything experienced." According to the Insurance Information Institute, flood damage  may equal  that of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in United States history.

We ask and thank you all for your fervent prayers on our behalf! We could see as much as 50 inches of rain, and many of our members will have their homes flooded. The cleanup will be a massive undertaking, perhaps taking years. Your love and support means so much to us here in Houston.

We are grateful that as far as we know all of the disciples in our churches are safe and many are helping their neighbors. We mourn with the families who have lost loved ones.

We know that we serve an amazing omnipotent God who cares and who can! I have every confidence that  the Greater Houston Church  will come through this trial with faith and love as we live out Phillipians 2:14-16: " Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain ."

We look forward to glorifying our God as we serve our community in the coming weeks, and know many of you will be joining us in doing so. Please keep us in your prayers and God bless.

Doug Wens
Lead Evangelist, Greater Houston Church

By Shane Engel 07 Sep, 2017
Hurricane Irma is causing major devastation across the Caribbean and is barreling in towards the United States.  Irma, a Category 5 Hurricane, has reportedly caused 6 deaths in St. Martin and has completely destroyed buildings in Barbuda.  HOPE worldwide's partners in St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic have been in communication, but all are bracing themselves for impact.  Chantal Cornley, one of HOPE worldwide's  newest employees, is in Haiti helping the HOPE ww Haiti to recover from Matthew and prepare for Irma.  Let us keep them all in our prayers.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 05 Sep, 2017

Allison Reynolds from Manchester, England shares her HYC experience:

I had a lot of fear going to the Philippines Christmas 2016 HYC.  For someone who has barely flown at all, four eight hour flights were scary enough.  And then, what about all the diseases and dangerous animals?  Would I be of any benefit?  How safe were the slums to take a typically English twelve year old boy?  What if he got lost? And what about the finances – just think what else we could have done with all that money!

Having now been on the HYC I can honestly say that it was the best money I have ever spent and I would go again and again if it were possible for us.  It’s hard to describe how amazing the time was.  My husband described it as a taste of heaven.  Yes, we get to help the poor and have an impact, but for me that was just a drop in the ocean.  Spending two weeks with a group of young fresh excited disciples was so inspiring.  Hearing all their stories of how they became Christians was faith-building.  The depth of the friendships that were built in that short space of time is a true miracle from God.  

Before going, I was hopeful that the young disciples would spend some time with my boys and reach out to them.  They did far more than that.  I hardly saw them.  Every time I walked into a room someone was chatting with Jon (15) and someone was playing cards with Ben (12) or tickling him.  They had spiritual chats with them, shared bible studies and prayed with them.  Ben sobbed when we left.  “But I have made such good friends here mum, and I’m not talking about the children – I mean the grown ups!”

Half way through HYC, one sentence said by Jonathan made all the cost, planning, effort and overcoming my fears worthwhile.  He said “Wow mum, this is so much more meaningful than what we could have been doing this Christmas”.  My eyes prick with tears every time I write or share that sentence.

About three weeks after we came back, I had the best spiritual conversation that I’d ever had with Jon.  I was so excited.  His best friend in the church had decided to get baptised and I could see God working in lots of ways to open up his heart.  He started to take his bible studies more seriously.  I’d seen him take steps forward in his faith after the last two teen camps that he had attended and this was another big step forward but he still wasn’t quite ready.  I had it on my heart for some time to write this article, but I kept putting it off because I wanted to be able to end it by saying that Jon had become a Christian.

And now, eight months after our return from the Philippines, I can write this article with the ending that I wanted.  Jon was baptised at the London teen camp and it’s like a different person has come back!  If you are considering going on one of the HYCs that are open to families, I can’t urge you strongly enough to go.  It might just be the catalyst that is needed to stir your children’s hearts towards God.  

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