About 28 years ago, Joe DeRosier, his wife, Phyllis, and their children visited his sister who was living in Mexico City and working at the American Embassy. She was knitting hats for children at a nearby orphanage. The DeRosiers visited the orphanage, saw the children and were touched by the story of orphanage founder Father William Wasson and the work he was doing to help orphaned and abandoned children.
Father Wasson was serving a parish in Cuernavaca, Mexico, more than 50 years ago when he received a call from police asking if he would testify against the person they caught stealing money from the church. When the priest discovered the thief was a 14-year-old boy who was stealing because he was hungry, he refused to press charges. Instead, he asked for custody of the boy. He gained custody of the boy and the eight other boys in the prison cell with him. Five months later Wasson was caring for 32 children.
Friends of the Orphans organizes trips to see children in the orphanages on a regular basis. The Nuestros Pequeos Hermanos organization provides food, clothing, shelter, health care and education and currently is home to more than 3,100 children.
He became the founder of Nuestros Pequeos Hermanos, or NPH, which in Spanish means "Our Little Brothers and Sisters," seven orphanages that now serve more than 3,000 children in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
On that first plane ride home from Mexico City, Phyllis told her husband they ought to do something to help raise money for Father Wasson and his orphans. That year they made many pies and hosted a fundraising event at their East Gull Lake summer home, raising about $1,300. The NPH orphanages are funded solely by donations.
The DeRosiers became directors of Minnesota Friends of the Orphans North. And for more than two decades, the DeRosiers hosted Mexican fiestas each summer at their East Gull Lake home. Later the event was hosted at St. Mathias Park.
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