Blog: July 2014

July 16, 2014

2014 marks the second year of UPI’s Ambassadors of Promise program, and we’ve been blessed to see it grow in exciting ways. Last year, we had two participants and one hosting site. This year, we have 4 students working at 3 different UrbanPromise locations around the world! What better way to share the experience than through the words of our students who are on the ground, tasting new foods, making new friends, and learning much about themselves along the way. Here are their stories:


So far my time in UrbanPromise Wilmington has been phenomenal. I remember the first day that I arrived we were welcomed with open arms, they were very friendly and eager to know about the UrbanPromise in Miami. I was tired that day but Wilmington made it a great day for me. I loved it because they made me eager to figure out how my first day in their camp will be like.

My first host family were very caring, they ask for my needs and they were very caring towards me. That host family made me feel welcomed in their home and until this day they worry about me and ask me how I’m doing. However my 2 host person was also caring for me, she tried as hard as possible to make me feel welcomed and I loved that. I liked the fact that she was scared that I wouldn’t like her but to be honest they will be in my heart forever because just how they care for me I care for them.

My first week wasn’t as hard as I expected, the kids welcomed me and so did the staff, I didn’t feel like I was someone that just joined them, they made me feel like I was already part of their family and like I’ve been there for a while.

Something that I like about UrbanPromise Wilmington is their way of doing things. I always expected UrbanPromise to be one type of way, but I’ve learned that everybody has their own unique way of doing things.

Once I go back to Miami I would like to try new ways of doing things, I don’t think that every camp should be the same way, I would like for my camp to be unique in their own way just how the camps in Wilmington were.

This was an amazing summer that I will never forget, I saw how much I care for kids and that I will love to keep doing this in my future. I grew relationships with kids and staff and they’re just another important part of my life that taught me better and that cared for me.




Hey everyone, my name is Jefry Padilla!!!!!

I was born in Honduras, Tegucigalpa but was raised in a town in Miami, FL called Little Havana. In Miami we have a non-profit organization that helps kids from first grade through high school stay out of trouble. We try to keep them from getting exposed to any negative habits like gangs, drugs, alcohol, and etc. Also by teaching them from what's good and bad at a young age we also implement the scripture of our heavenly father, Jesus Christ, because without him a program like this wouldn't be as unique as it is. Recently I've been blessed with an opportunity to travel and stay three weeks in a different state that has an UrbanPromise within it. When I first arrived, I immediately wanted to pack my luggage and go back home to work for the camp I’ve been blessed to be a part of for five years but I knew I was here for a reason, so I challenged myself and so far it's turned out to be just like home. The host family I'm staying with is amazing, they took me in like I'm one of their own and for that I am grateful towards them. Now it's like if I was part of their family all along. The new camp I was assigned to is called camp harmony (otherwise known as H SQUAD!!!!!!) The kids here are very talented and smart but as all kids, they can be a handful at times. I've been floating around all four groups but the group that I've built the most relationships with is the first group I was ever assigned to when I stepped foot inside harmony ground. They are known as the "The Rockin Roses". Just seeing them come to camp everyday fills me up with so much joy because every kid here has a very challenging life outside these walls. One thing I’ve learned so far from Wilmington is that if you put your faith in Christ you will be at peace. Another thing is camp-wise and cultural-wise, UrbanPromise Wilmington and UrbanPromise Miami are totally different but at the end of the day none of that matters because all the UrbanPromise sites around the world have the same goal; to change a child's life one day at a time. 

July 11, 2014

2014 marks the second year of UPI’s Ambassadors of Promise program, and we’ve been blessed to see it grow in exciting ways. Last year, we had two participants and one hosting site. This year, we have 4 students working at 3 different UrbanPromise locations around the world! What better way to share the experience than through the words of our students who are on the ground, tasting new foods, making new friends, and learning much about themselves along the way. Here are their stories:


Kytara Long

My first week:


It is the middle of my first week being in Miami and i can honestly say i love it here. Everyone is so welcoming and very nice. When i first came here i did not think it will be easy to interact with the other StreetLeaders but they made it easy by introducing themselves to me first. Derrick, the camp director, does a great job with running the whole camp. The kids absolutely love him when he does opening program and is very energetic with them. I can tell that he will do anything for the kids and StreetLeaders to be happy. Staying at the intern house gave me the chance to get to know all of the interns, Derrick, and Jessie, the StreetLeader coordinator. They all were welcoming me into their house. It’s nice staying with them because I get to know the interns very well.


We did not go to church this morning except some people because the rest of us woke up too late, but that did not stop us from worshiping God. The whole afternoon two roommates and I, Jessie and Ty were listening and singing to worship music to thank God for everything he has done for us. This moment had to be one of the best moments in my life. I felt so good for the rest of the day. After we were done we ate lunch together and walked to the site to watch anime cartoons and movies. We were there till about 9 or 10 at night. It was a fun night because we all were laughing and just enjoying the time together.


Rajaun Hailey

Foreign Excursion

So this summer I agreed to something incredible; I decided to go to Honduras, a country outside of the United States, for three weeks. There I would go and work with the UrbanPromise ministry down there: UrbanPromise Honduras. The entire trip was free, which included travel, living quarters, and meals.

How could this be possible? Well, thanks to my one hallway of a school, UrbanPromise Academy, I became an Ambassador. The Ambassadors of Promise program is an opportunity for StreetLeader involved with any one of the UrbanPromise ministries’ AfterSchool programs. My site in Camden, New Jersey asked youth if they wanted to be an Ambassador for the summer, and I happily agreed. Because of the director of Ambassadors of Promise, Margaret Wooten, I am now in Honduras. This is the farthest the program has ever taken a kid. In the future, about two years, they hope to send someone to Uganda and Malawi, Africa.

Copan, Honduras is not so different from Camden, New Jersey. In Copan, there are pulperias which are the Camden equivalent to corner stores. The people are the same; however, people in Honduras don’t smoke as much as people do in Camden. The teens here are the same also. Unfortunately, there are plenty of drop-outs and teenage pregnancies here in turn with Camden. The kids at the Honduran camps are so energetic and just as cute as the Camden kids. I personally feel as though these kids are more respectful and are more considerate of listening to the leaders.

While in Honduras for three weeks, I hope to gain a few skills. Spanish is the national language of Honduras, so I’m hoping to at least have a better vocabulary when I return to the states. In addition, since this is my first time out of the U.S.A., I hope to get more experience traveling. College is right around the corner for me, so going to Honduras for the summer is something that will probably give me experience with being far away from home. So far, my trip has not only been fun, it has been a learning experience. This is perhaps the best decision I’ve made in 2014. Can’t wait to share my experience when I return home.


July 7, 2014

Three young boys remained on stage, all just shy of 7 years of age.  Nervous.  Excited.  Squirming with anticipation, as they would each be called to the solo microphone to correctly spell a given word.

It's the annual "Concurso De Ortografia" ( Spelling Bee) in Copan Ruinas--a small town 4 hours into the mountains west of San Pedro Sula.  The event is sponsored by UrbanPromise Honduras.

Five years ago there was little happening for children and teens in Copan.  But a couple of visionary leaders had a dream.  They dared to believe that a ministry could be built in this place--a ministry focusing on developing young leaders from this community.   They dreamed that Copan could become a fertile birth place for leaders who one day could play significant roles in their community....and possibly start new youth centered ministries around central America.   And its happening.  Sixty percent of the staff are now local Hondurans.

But dreams need to start somewhere.  Leaders don't just magically appear because of good intentions and pithy quotes pasted on office walls.  Leadership is shaped through thousands of moments and situations that call us to confront our fears and build our Spelling Bees.

"Vaso," calls the MC as seven year old Elmer settles himself in front of the microphone.

Elmer pauses.  Silence falls over the audience.  

"V"..."A"..."S".......Elmer stumbles and looks towards the floor.  I wonder what goes through his young mind as he searches for that last vowel.  I wonder if he realizes that this small act of courage will embed itself in his collective memory, possibly giving him the confidence to face his next life challenge.  

"O", calls Elmer, breaking the pregnant hush.  

The panel of judges raise their "Si" signs.  The crowd applauds wildly.  Elmer breathes a sigh of relief, smiles and moves back towards his chair.  He survives another round.  

Ten years from now, when I return to Copan for my annual visit, I imagine I'll bump into Elmer.  I'm hopeful that I'll meet a young man, working at one of UP Honduras' summer camps, serving as a tutor, mentor, role model for younger children in his community.  I'm hopeful that Elmer will have a vision for his life, will have the skills and courage needed to fulfill that vision, and will have his own dream for the future of Copan and his country.  And I'll remember that night, at the Spelling Bee, when Elmer refused to give up, when he said no to the voices of surrender, and found the "O".    

May we never give up searching for that last vowel. 

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