It’s safe to say that there have been some real challenges this month in our ACE family. Dawn, our Stateside Child Sponsorship Coordinator, experienced severe pain one evening that put her in the hospital. Dawn has been battling illnesses for much of her adult life, but this was unexpected. She is one of those team members who, even a few years ago when she was in intensive care, had her laptop on her chest, texting families of our students updating them on the many happenings here in Jamaica. Now that is what we call dedication!

Frankly, all of us at ACE see Dawn as a hero, cheerful and diligent in adversity, while we struggle in our ability to cope with splinters and stubbed toes. No matter her health setbacks, not one of our ACE students is forgotten when it comes to needs, birthdays, and making sure you, our sponsors, are kept aware of any changes happening in the lives of these children.

While we highlight one of our heroes at ACE, we want to mention a big zero that happened earlier this week. One of the families in our community had a person throw a Molotov cocktail into their wood home in the wee hours of the morning, killing a four-year-old and her mother. The grandparents and father survived with burns, but the tragedy left all of us in shock. The angry man was caught and is now in jail pending a hearing.

While we don’t know why someone would be so filled with rage to do something like this, it seems that even in our community, angry people are everywhere. ACE was contacted yesterday to see if we could offer help. The Red Cross gave the family two mattresses, and the next-door neighbor gave them a small room to temporarily move into, but that’s it. Their local church is collecting a little bit of money to have a memorial for the mother and child, but in a poverty environment; most of the friends and neighbors can only sympathize with them and offer what little food or clothing they may have.

Which brings us back to heroes – we are so proud of our ACE team lead by D’Vaun and Patricia. When the news was given to us about this family’s crisis, we were having our weekly book club. The tone quickly changed from books and schedules to what do we have to offer and how can we help? I have had the privilege of watching these young adults grow in their commitment to ACE and to others, and it was encouraging to listen to their planning and brainstorming as a team, finding ways for ACE to help this family at least short term until a long-term plan could be developed. Many times, we see the Jamaican ACE team as fun-loving PE instructors, tutors, fruit pickers, and team leaders. When this sort of tragedy happens, it’s tough but reassuring that our staff understands the focus of why we exist in Jamaica: to be a blessing and help in time of need.

You, our extended ACE family in Jamaica as well as in the states, are very much a part of this assistance. Thank you for seeing us through the many years of fun and challenges. Next year is our big 35th anniversary – 35 years strong! And we owe it to all of you and our staff who show up even when it’s hard. More heroes and less zeroes in the world will make all the difference!