Project Update July 2019


We returned last month from 2 amazing weeks in Tanzania. Our team of 17 went to change the lives of vulnerable children and in the process all would agree that our lives were changed as well.

After a caravan to JFK and a long plane ride connecting in Nairobi, we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport. After smoothly clearing customs (which isn’t easy with 45 suitcases of supplies, 14 roller bags and 14 backpacks), we met Kundael Molla, who arranged our transportation and would later become our partner and friend. We boarded the bus; we affectionately named “Jambolopy” for the 2 hour bus ride to the hotel in Arusha. Kundael had already arranged to pick up the 4 professional soccer goals for Healy Fields we shipped that had arrived the day before.

We arrived at our hotel where we sorted the suitcases. We put together over 150 Beau’s Bundles and 200 mini bundles of baby supplies. We stuffed over 300 Scott Willis Legacy Foundation (SWLF) backpacks complete with t-shirts, Color For Kids crayons and markers, school supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, comfort dolls, beanie babies, jump ropes and candy. We put together 1000 goodie bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, erasers, sharpeners and candy. We sorted 6 suitcases of toys to fill 3 Connor Toy Boxes and 4 suitcases of sporting equipment to stock Mike Squared Sports. We carried 84 cups, bowls, plates and silverware for Sara’s Kitchen at Shades of Hope as well as trays, bowls, cups and silverware for Sara’s Kitchen at Mama Jane’s.


Our first full day in Africa began with our journey to Shades of Hope School where the team met the children that attend this amazing school founded by Steve and James. The school now has 90 children in Pre-K to First Grade and will need to expand next year to include 2nd grade. Fourteen children live at the school full-time with a care taker.


Lulu with Susan & Acadia

Lulu with Susan & Acadia

Prior to the trip SWLF friends and family supported 8 of the children living at SOH. Baraka is sponsored by the Wohlfort family. His sister, Lulu, is sponsored by Susan Skiles. Najima, who is supported by friends Anna & Rick, has spina bifida. She is getting the medical care she needs and is happy and loved. Brady and Brianna support Elishadai. Mollie and Joe Bracigliano sponsor three brothers, Shedrack, Lawrence and Yohana. Kate & John Willis support Hamima and were able to visit with her several times. Hamima is the most outward example of how a child’s life can be changed. She was withdrawn and hungry when we met her outside of Rafiki in September 2017. She moved to SOH in December 2017 and is now the “Mayor” as she seems to run the school! SWLF also supports the education of Elena who is an older child living in the village near SOH. Our biggest news regarding scholarships is that 4 families on this trip agreed to welcome 3 children into their lives by sponsoring them. We had priceless moments when Kim and welcomed Yvonne into the Dewalt family by showing her photos of her new “sisters” and Matt. Suzy, Tom and Luke welcomed Elisha. Carmela and Becky welcomed Richard Patrick into their families. We now support 11 of the children living there as well as Elena.


We dedicated Sara’s Kitchen at Shades of Hope named for the beloved Sara Stepanian. It was painted a beautiful yellow – Sara’s favorite color, prior to our arrival. While we were there, helpers painted Sara’s Kitchen using the stencil designed by Suzy. Sara’s Kitchen prepares meals for the children as it is most likely the only meal most will get that day. We delivered the plates, cups, bowls and silverware we carried over with us. Two children from the school, Sara and Richard (sponsored by Carmela and Becky) helped us dedicated this kitchen funded by Richard Stepanian in memory of his dear wife, Sara and Mary Margaret Stepanian in memory of her amazing mother.


The Boddicker and Charipar families donated the funds to provide clean water to Shades of Hope. They know how important clean water is to the children and to the community. We asked to honor them by naming the project and they insisted that we name it after Scott. When Scott was 10, he decided that he wanted to one day own a bar in an exotic location. He would have his Dad as the bouncer and his Mom would dance on the roof to attract customers. (She had to be on the roof so no one could see how old she was!) This story was told and retold as Scott grew up and he always insisted that one day he would own that bar. Well, he now has Scotty’s Watering Hole in Arusha, Tanzania. We can’t think of a more exotic location and we know that Scott is smiling down from heaven as these children now have clean water. It is tied into both Sara’s Kitchen as well as bathrooms for the children to use.


This soccer field, named in memory of Edward L. Healy III, is being used not only by the children but by the community as well. It has become an evening gathering place. Just like Healy Field at Mama Jane’s, the field features 24’ long by 8’ high professional aluminum soccer goals that were donated by Fold-A-Goal and shipped by Mark Butler of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Shapiro Shipping. It was an amazing feat to get these goals to their destination.

Healy Field @ SOH In memory of Edward L. Healy III

Healy Field @ SOH In memory of Edward L. Healy III



The first of three Connor’s Toy Boxes was delivered to Shades of Hope School. It was dedicated by Connor’s grandmother, Susan and his cousin, Acadia. Tommy, John and the construction crew built a beautiful and durable toy box and Cate and Suzy hand painted Connor’s name on top. It was filled with toys donated by Connor’s Mom, Kathleen, and her friends and family. The kids loved the toy box and we continue to get photos from Shades of Hope showing the kids enjoying the toys.


We distributed SWLF backpacks to each child and equipped the classrooms with school supplies. We gave Beau’s Bundles to neighbors. We brought sporting supplies from Mike Squared Sports along to play with the children. After a wonderful lunch prepared in Sara’s Kitchen, we left with new friends and great memories.


From SOH we traveled to Mama Jane’s where 45 orphaned children live in her care. The team met the children. We walked the property with Mama Jane to see first-hand the following projects we would complete during our visit:


The most emotional and inspired dedication was for Scott’s Courtyard. It represents the heart of our project. The Scott Willis Legacy Foundation logo features a rainbow because his boys believe Scott lives above the rainbow. Marylee and Bridget painted a rainbow and it is surrounded by the handprints of Mama Jane and her children. Scott’s Aunts Suzy and Kim stenciled the adjacent wall with “Scott’s Courtyard.” This panel features the handprints of the team that made this project a reality.


Mama Jane already had an amazing garden. Wyatt went to the Dollar Tree more than 10 times buying the store out of seeds every time. We brought over 350 packets of seeds with us including watermelon, lettuce, carrots and especially cherry tomatoes. He always asks his grandmother, “How many kids do you think are eating out of my garden today?” Wyatt, we can tell you that 45 kids eat out of your garden every day and it also produces vegetables and fruit for Mama Jane to sell and give to neighboring families in need. Marylee, Bridget and Carmela (she painted the corn!) created a beautiful 2 part mural in Scott’s Courtyard that features a painting of Scott, Wyatt and Hayden. A box outlines the mural and Mama Jane promised to plant Wyatt’s favorite, cherry tomatoes, there.

Scott's Courtyard and Wyatt's Garden


Hayden’s Playground was renovated during our last visit. We replaced a broken swing and provided toys through Mike Squared Sports for the children to use. One of the boys found humor by wearing a bag from a racquet set on his head. The playground honors Scott’s son, Hayden. He can’t wait to come to Africa when he is older to play with the kids. He saved his money to buy school supplies for the kids. He has his Dad’s heart.


The most transformed area was Pop’s Pantry named after Willis Patriarch, Jim Willis (aka Pop). Becky, Kim, Suzy, Acadia and Isaac painted it in New York Mets orange honoring Pop’s favorite team. The curtains were made with NY Mets logo material. Suzy and Kim stenciled his name. Tommy, John, Luke, Isaac and our bus driver, Macha, made a beautiful 8 foot prep table and hung shelves in the adjoining hallway. We dedicated Pop’s Pantry to Pop by having 6 members of the Willis family distribute candy, including Pop’s favorite – chocolate – to the children.


Eileen’s Sewing Center was moved to a former classroom that was completely transformed. With funds provided by Susan Walters, Mama Jane was able to purchase 5 new treadle sewing machines, a serger machine and upon Susan’s insistence, an iron and ironing board. She also sent over material and supplies. Becky’s Mom, Polly, sent a huge box of accessories and Dana Lang sent supplies as well. The Center was dedicated in memory of Eileen Deveaney and her children now wear aprons and carry bags made by the girls. When not in use, the machines are rented to neighbors to generate revenue for the orphanage.



At the center of Mama Jane’s is Sara’s Kitchen. The kitchen was constructed prior to our last visit and this trip Cate, Bridget and Carmela painted it yellow – Sara’s favorite color. Suzy designed the stencil and Kim helped paint it. We dedicated the kitchen with Mama Jane and the cooks. The kitchen at Mama Jane’s was funded by Richard Stepanian in memory of his beautiful wife and by his daughter, Mary-Margaret in memory of her amazing mother.


Last year we raised $2400 to fund and sustain Mama Jane’s Chicken Program. This trip, Tommy led the crew constructing a new rooster pen. The coop was painted in a bright green and stenciled with Micah’s name. The coop has 100 chicks, 100 layers and 100 fryers that generate eggs and chickens to feed the children as well as eggs to sell at market. Marylee, Cate and Bridget dedicated Micah’s Coop in memory of a family member.


The old guardhouse was transformed into a beautiful storage room for sporting equipment. Patty, Tina and Nick painted the room. John, Nick and Isaac built dividers, shelves and racks to hold everything. The building was dedicated in memory of Michael “Wibs” Woodard and Michael “Fio” Fiorelli by their families and Mama Jane. The team wore their Mike Square Sports T-shirts designed by Lisa Woodard. The kids loved using all of the sports equipment.


Healy Field at Mama Jane’s is anchored by 2 professional soccer goals. The kids were playing on the field before the nets were installed. A crew of kids joined Cate, Becky and Bridget to paint the walls while Suzy and Kim stenciled the tribute to Ed Healy. Cate finished the tribute wall with a chalkboard scoreboard. The team dedicated the field to Ed wearing their Healy Field T-shirts.


A tour of the boys’ dorm made everyone realize they needed better living conditions. Becky, Carmela and Bridget painted it a beautiful blue color. The metal bunkbeds were repositioned. We purchased new mattresses for the boys. Mama Jane dedicated the dorm to Mark Butler and his family. The Mark Butler Foundation provided the initial funding to start the Scott Willis Legacy Foundation and continues to support us. This is a small token of our appreciation for the love and support of this amazing family.


Susanne’s Salon was in full swing! We finished the salon during our last visit but Deb Hines from Indulgence Salon sent a suitcase full of supplies to restock including 3 battery operated razors for men that Mama Jane had requested. The girls continue to learn skills that will enable them to generate income. It is dedicated to Susanne Healy and it looks out over Healy Field named in memory of her son, Ed.


We surprised Susan Skiles and her granddaughter, Acadia, with the dedication of Connor’s Classroom named in honor of her grandson. We also dedicated the first of three Connor’s Toy Boxes in his honor filled with games and toys collected by Connor’s Mom, Kathleen, and friends and family. Cate and Suzy painted Connor’s name on the lid. The children love Connor’s Toy Box.


Helen’s Closet was completed during our visit in October and it is now fully stocked with items for sale to visitors, neighbors as well as at the local market. The girls have been busy filling the store with handmade items including beautiful beaded purses, cloth bags, aprons, shirts, necklaces, earrings, baskets and many other beautiful items. As our team left most of our clothes at Mama Jane’s, we refilled our luggage home with souvenirs and gifts purchased in Helen’s Closet. Helen’s Closet is dedicated in memory of Helen Romanoli Davis.


We painted Beau’s Nursery and installed shelves to hold Beau’s Bundles as well as the baby supplies we brought and purchased there. There is currently one baby, Lovely, who stays in the nursery with her Mom. A big part of our outreach program was Beau’s Bundles as you’ll read about below.



As we carried over 45 suitcases of supplies, getting these supplies to the communities that needed them most was very important. We partnered with Kundael Molla of Bushwide African Safaris who helped us not only with transportation but also with all of our outreach programs as he is familiar with the area and its needs. Our dear friend, Isaac Peter Asseno, was with us every step of the way and acted as our interpreter when needed. We directly touched the lives of over 3000 children during our two weeks.


Beau’s Bundles is our biggest outreach program. Supplies such as cloth diapers, bottles, clothes, blankets and a comfort doll were packed in beautiful bags bearing Beau’s handprint. Beau’s Bundles is named in memory of Katie and Brian’s son, Beau. Katie and Brian’s families and friends collected items. Many other people helped as well including St. Casimir’s Catholic School and Scott’s aunt, Kim Dewalt, who had friends donate baby items instead of gifts for her 50th birthday. Acadia Lankford collected items by posting a sign at the ice cream store where she worked. So many others, including Kate’s patients and friends donated as well. Beau’s Bundles were given out to Moms living in extreme poverty. We had over 150 Beau’s Bundles Bags and more than 200 “mini” Beau’s Bundles featuring diapers and onesies.


Another big part of our outreach was hand-made “Comfort Dolls.” Marylee McCusker and her mother, Leeann Walsh, coordinated many people, including the Prayer Shawl Group at Sacred Heart of Glyndon Church to hand knit or crochet dolls to give to the babies in Beau’s Bundles, children at Mama Jane’s and Shades of Hope as well as those we met in the community. We started with a goal of 100 dolls but by the time Deacon Jim blessed the dolls, they totaled close to 350.


Alex Stetka started the contributions by sending us over 300 toothbrushes and 2 cases of toothpaste. When Kristen Schultz of the Orioles saw Alex’s donation, she came through with cases of toothbrushes. We then added additional cases of toothpaste so that every toothbrush given out would come with a tube of toothpaste. Both were big hits!


Bethany Kuster, a friend of Kim’s, donated cases of crayons, markers and colored pencils through her program, Color For Kids. We put crayons, markers or colored pencils in each SWLF Gift backpack. We gave the remaining items out to children we met along the way as well as to the Cheti Primary School and Nungwi Village School.


Dr. James Lace coordinated our visit to Mt. Meru Hospital. Twenty-five to thirty babies are born each day here into extreme poverty. Kim, Patty and Tina delivered Beau’s Bundles to the moms and additional supplies to the hospital.


Each day on our way to Mama Jane’s, the “Jambolopy” would stop several times to distribute gift bags and jump ropes to groups of children along the way. The children came to expect the stop and would run after the bus if we didn’t. Outside the gates of Mama Jane’s, children would gather every morning when they saw our bus. Each day we gave the children different items such as school supplies, jump ropes, flash cards and candy. Moms would come to the gate carrying their babies to receive Beau’s Bundles. The word quickly got out in the village and we had crowds everyday.



We stopped one morning on our way to Mama Jane’s at a small orphanage called Reach the Unreached. This orphanage is run by Isaac, his sister Jessica and their cousin Flauren. The amazing part is that these three angels are all in their early 20’s. Their Mother, a preacher, visited a rural community and a mom asked that she take her child as the mom could not provide and the child was starving. The preacher brought this child home. On her next visit to the village, several more people asked her to take their children as well and this is how the orphanage came about. These amazing moms wanted their children to have a better life. When we pulled up to the gates, the children came running out to jump in our arms. We visited their home and gave them SWLF gift bags, candy and funds to help with expenses. Our team was touched by the love and care that these children were receiving by these young people. They loved the “Fun Dip” candy that we brought along and joined them as they sang for us.


One day, after visiting Shades of Hope in the morning, we stopped by Cheti Primary School. The principal greeted us and took us from classroom to classroom as we met the 200 amazing children that the school serves. They sang for us and they gave us a demonstration on what they were learning. We distributed bags containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, erasers, sharpeners and candy. We even gave a Beau’s Bundle to a pregnant teacher as well as to Mom’s with babies who greeted us outside the school.


At the end of our trip we stopped in Zanzibar for a much needed rest before returning home. On the way to the hotel, we passed through many poor villages but none was as poor as the Nungwi Village which was right outside the gates of our hotel. Kundael arranged for Musa Ali, a bell cap at our hotel to take us into the village to distribute supplies. He is one of 5 lucky people from the village to have a job at the hotel. He was like the Mayor. He knew everyone but especially knew their needs. We delivered Beau’s Bundles to all of the new moms in the village. We gave out bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste to all of the children. We handed out comfort dolls to the young children. We visited the primary school which serves 1992 children and has 28 teachers (72 students each). There are no desks. They sit on the concrete floor. We gave the principal and staff pencils, erasers and sharpeners for the children, school supplies such as flash cards, Color 4 Kids crayons and markers and all the remaining toothbrushes and toothpaste. Ali knew of 2 families who were facing extreme hunger. He walked us to a local market where we purchased rice, flour, sugar and other supplies. We delivered these items directly to the families in need. We finished the day at the Nungwi Village Hospital where we delivered the remaining Beau’s Bundles as well as stacks of diapers, onesies and bottles. The Nungwi Village Hospital has 5-6 babies born each week into extreme poverty. They were thrilled.


During our trip, Kundael told us that his company, Bushwide, supports an orphanage several hours away. Tommy, John and the construction crew built a third Connor’s Toy Box and Susan and Acadia filled it with toys. We kept Kundael busy during our trip so after our departure, he delivered Connor’s Toy Box to Jubilance Orphanage and shared with us the photos and excitement of the children.


We had given Kundael several boxes of supplies for the orphanage and he shared these supplies with a center that takes in children living on the street. We loved seeing the smiles on the faces of the children as they held toys and supplies including crayons and markers from Color For Kids. Kundael rocks!


Perhaps one of Kundael’s greatest assets is his girlfriend (or as we affectionately referred to her as “FONSAE”), Jacky. Kundael negotiated and Jacky arranged for our amazing dinners each night at her boss’ new restaurant, Amani. Jacky mentioned that her sister lives near a family that is struggling and has 5 boys. We made up SWLF backpacks for each of the boys and Jacky delivered them proudly wearing her SWLF T-shirt. This dynamic duo is working on a project in an extremely poor area outside of Tarangire National Park where they are building a school where the children currently learn in a mud hut. They are part of our SWLF family and an important part of our team and outreach in Tanzania.


Sr. Paul and Sr. Claude are two Irish nuns from the Sisters of Mercy who were very important in Scott’s life and are part of our family. Sr. Claude helped her friend, Sr. Andrea with a school for Special Needs Children in Zambia. We asked Sr. Claude, during her visit to the US for our Dad’s 90th birthday, what her needs were at Flamboyant. She mentioned that the children were wearing tattered uniforms and that the rainy cold season was quickly approaching. We sent the funds to her for 84 new uniforms complete with accessories including sweaters, socks, shoes and underwear. Many of you have purchased uniforms in honor or memory of loved ones to help us replenish these funds. Uniforms are still available. We thank you.


Sr. Claude surprised us with the news that they had named their beautiful garden after Scott. There is now an amazing garden, complete with a beautiful mural, in Zambia. We have donated funds to help purchase an irrigation system and electricity for the garden. We will continue to support the school whenever Sr. Claude needs help. Our next project will be to provide special desks for 2 children using prosthesis as well as adaptable garden benches and a swing. We can’t wait to visit Flamboyant on our next trip to Africa to meet these children and see Scotty’s Garden.


We could go on for pages thanking everyone who has helped us. We would like to give special thanks to Mark Butler of the Mark L. Butler Foundation. Mark provided the initial funding for the Scott Willis Legacy Foundation and continues to help us whenever asked. On this last trip, he and his team (including Shapiro Shipping) were instrumental in getting the professional soccer goals to Africa. We were honored to name the boys’ dorm, Butler’s Bunkhouse, for him. We also want to thank the team of people that traveled with us to Africa. We could not have asked for a better group of people who bonded over their love of these children. Fifteen of us were there to honor loved ones with projects but two special ladies, Carmela and Becky traveled there with nothing on their agenda other than to help the children. They ended up sponsoring Richard Patrick at Shades of Hope and he is now a very special part of their families. Asante Sana!

We ask that you visit our website often ( especially if you are not on Facebook, so you can see the many projects that we are supporting. The funding for the SWLF has been supported by over 227 people. It takes a village and we are so grateful that you are part of ours.

With love and gratitude,

Kate and Diane