My turn: Communities eager to help

Portales resident Jennifer Neilson, who volunteers at The King’s Children’s Home (KCH) in Belize, recently invited me to a KCH fundraiser ($35,000 and counting) at the packed Underground Embassy in Clovis.

Resident artist Andrew Jonathan Merritt’s warning sign amused me: “Unless you are the second coming of Christ, keep your hands off the art.”

After being treated to a Belizian meal by Central Baptist Church, and catchy Christian music, KCH founder Leonie Herrera-Gillham spoke.

Arriving from Belize, she described how the home for abandoned kids she founded in 1985 had expanded from two to three to four bedrooms — and is now undergoing a major construction project to serve 50 children.

One of 14 kids, Leonie was repeatedly beaten and molested by her father, and accused of lying by her mother. As a young teenager, she had her father’s kid.

She never knew caring parents — and mistrusted men.

Motivated by her abuse, she has cared for hundreds of kids. Several died young from birth defects caused by their mothers’ addictions.

Another was born with part of his brain and an eye and arm missing. She smuggled him in her blouse across a border to seek treatment. She fooled the border agents because, “They thought I had big boobs.”

Although not expected to live more than a few days, the boy made it several months — before dying in her arms.

Find out more about the children’s home at www.kingschildrenshome.org