March 13, 2013


McGraw boy is thinking of Romanian babies

McGrawBob Ellis/staff photographer
Noah Guernsey cracks a smile as he looks over a check he just opened from his grandparents Saturday at the McGraw Recreation Center during his seventh birthday party. Instead of birthday gifts, Noah had asked friends and relatives to give a check which he will donate to Project Hope for the Children, caring for the needy and abandoned children in Romanian hospitals.

Living and Leisure Editor

Rochelle Guernsey is still shaking her head after a chicken and broccoli cheese dinner gone awry.
When her six year old fussed at the meal, the stay at home mom turned it into a teachable moment — using the classic, “Do you know how many kids are starving in China” line. But she backed it up with a YouTube video.
And her first grade son, Noah, heard her loud and clear.
“Because they were so skinny, you could see their bones. I wanted to help them,” he said of the children on the screen.
Instead of asking for presents at his seventh year birthday party, held Saturday at the McGraw Community Building, Noah asked for donations, which will go to Project Hope for Children, a non-profit that fundraises to help orphans in Romania. Founded by former McGraw resident Ramona Petrella Cummings, the program provides supplies for babies and children who are orphaned in the country.
On Saturday, the family and friends gathered with pizza and balloons and squealing kids running around. Mom and dad, Brian Guernsey, a state trooper, gave their boy gifts. But party goers were asked to make a donation in lieu of gifts.
Noah was able to collect $300 for the cause.
“It’s nice that someone this young recognizes that there are other children in the world that don’t have what we have ... and that he is willing to help them out, to give them a better life,” said Mary Guernsey of McGraw, Noah’s grandmother.
Rochelle Guernsey, of McGraw, said one night she made chicken and broccoli, rice and cheese for dinner.
“The kids were complaining, ‘I don’t want this,’” she said.
“There are children that don’t have anything that would love to eat this,” Guernsey told her son. “You don’t know how lucky you are. If you don’t eat this and I buy more food, that’s money these children could have (had).”
Guernsey then showed children in need on YouTube.
“Noah seemed subdued about it,” she said and she comforted him. “Noah, it’s OK to feel this way. God wants you to help people and not be selfish .... We have a lot to be thankful for,” she said.
Her son asked his mother for his birthday, to give any money to kids that don’t have toys or are hungry.
Noah said he was fine not asking for presents — “I don’t want any,” he said.
“I was so proud of him. I couldn’t believe he came up with it on his own,” said Guernsey. “It makes me tear up.”
“Some parents would say, that’s a little harsh to show a child. But its real. It’s true,” she said. And her son is learning empathy and giving a helping hand.
Guernsey remembered a presentation to her church by Cummings, now of Fabius. Cummings visits Romania every year with supplies for orphaned children.
Cummings said 10 years ago she went to Romania for another organization, and saw babies in an orphanage needing basic care: food, stimulation, someone to hold them. Many were malnourished. She helped care for them. But they needed more — diapers, wipes, lotion. She started fundraising for supplies, starting up Project Hope for Children.
Cummings said prior to 1989, Romania was under Communistic rule and the government prohibited birth control. When families had so many babies they couldn’t care for them, the government set up orphanages to take care of them.
“If you had 12 kids and could only care for six, you put six in the orphanage,” Cummings said. Parents knew they couldn’t adequately care for the kids and felt they had a better life in the orphanage, she said.
“After 1989 that changed,” she said. But there is a population of gypsies that still gives up their babies to the state, because they can’t care for them.
The program supplies four hospitals in Oradea and has hired an employee to oversee its work in Romania.
Cummings is supported by area churches, service groups and individual donations. Her non profit group is under the umbrella of the Pompey Community Church, though it is separate from the institution.
People can find out more about the program at www.projecthope or email Cummings at
“I think it is so sweet,” said Cummings of Noah’s gift. “He chose to help others and I think that’s wonderful.”


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