RED OAK — The mission of the nonprofit Both Hands is to make a difference in the lives of widows and orphans.
Grace Church Ovilla partnered with the nonprofit to do just that on Saturday. Both Hands helps families, who are looking to adopt a child, by raising funds through community service projects that helps improve the lives of widows.
Volunteers with the church spent the day at the home of widow Charlsye Cason in Red Oak. They set out to paint Cason’s house, improve the landscaping and complete other smaller projects. The volunteers called upon the North Ellis County Outreach to see if they knew a widow in need. North Ellis County Outreach recommended Cason, who said she was in awe of the kindness and goodness shown to her.
“I guess surprised is the word. I really didn’t know how to react when somebody calls you and say they want to help you out and do some things for you,” said Cason, who’s been a volunteer with the outreach organization. “I was full of questions and a little bit overwhelmed. I think that sometimes that it is hard for us to accept such gifts. On the other hand you are happy that you are the recipient of that.”
Cason recently had to replace her air conditioning unit in her home, which caused her to let go some of her other house projects, so the work from volunteers helps greatly, she said.
“When you look around and see that there are shrubs that need to be trimmed and tree limbs that need to be trimmed it gets overwhelming,” Cason said. “It will help me out financially and help me out spiritually.”
But how does the help for Cason translate to helping an adoption? Grace Church Ovilla Senior Pastor Justin Jackson said this is the first time the church as partnered with Both Hands, with the understanding that adoption can typically be difficult to afford out of a family’s own pocket.
“The neat idea behind this is that most times when people are trying to fundraise, they do walk-a-thons or they do golf-a-thons,” Jackson said. “This is such a unique idea that Both Hands came up with. We work at the widow’s house for free. We try to get everything by donation. We then ask people to pledge for support.”
Jackson said team members send out support letters asking for sponsorship of the workday before the work begins. The funds raised through those sponsorships go toward the costs associated with an adoption. The funds from Saturday’s event are being raised to help Grace Church members Carlos and Kendra Cordero, who are in the process of adopting a girl from Poland.
“We have one daughter already. She is a biological daughter. We talked about adopting from the very beginning when we were engaged. My husband is from Venezuela. We met and dated in Venezuela. He was around a lot of impoverished situations and so we have had it on our heart for a long time to bring a child into our home that might not otherwise find themselves in an impoverished situation like that, especially without family,” Kendra said. “From our research, we heard that adoption in general takes a long time. It is a pretty lengthy process. We looked at all the options and looked at international adoption. We are more an international type of family, with our marriage the way it is cross-culturally. We knew the process would take quite a while. We submitted our application in April of 2014, so we have been at this for a little over two years. We just got matched to a little girl in March of this year.”
The cost of the international adoption is about $56,000, of which the family still has to raise about $10,000, Kendra said. Some of the costs include adoption agency fees, attorney fees, travel, lodging and paying for translators.
“We will make one trip (to Poland) and we are waiting on a court date right now. Poland is a little bit different. There are several countries that require you to go several times before you are allowed to adopt, but they require one trip to Poland. I will need to stay for like six weeks,” Cordero said. “They have like a bonding period with the child and you have court. Then they have an appeal process as well. You wait for everything to be processed and wait for any appeals that might come forward at this time. So it takes six weeks total and my husband will only have to go for three weeks for the bonding and the court. Then we will get to bring her home with us after those six weeks.”
To see community members come out and support their family through process means a lot, Kendra said.
“It is amazing to see when God puts something on your heart to do and how he puts it on the heart of a lot of other people, too,” she said.
Jackson said the church wants to continue to do future projects and involve the community.
“My thought is as a church, we should be helping to make things easier through being a community together and not letting them bear this burden on their own,” Jackson said. “A lot of churches have not heard of Both Hands, and never heard of the project. We just want to show them that it works and it is going really well.”
For anyone wanting to make a donation to the Cordero adoption, visit
www.bothhands.org/project/cordero-5397. A check can also be mailed to Preference Cordero 5397 PO Box 40 Gridley, Illinois 61744. Checks need to be made out to Life Song for Orphans, which oversees Both Hands. All donations go 100 percent to the Cordero family and are tax deductible. For more information about Both Hands, visit www.bothhands.org.
Contact Andrew Branca at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-517-1451.