Thursday, October 23, 2014

John & Jam have a New Blog: "The Coffey Press"

First Post from New Blog

We are no longer using this blog (this is the very last blog post). Our new blog will be sent monthly directly through email.

If you would like to be added to the contact list to receive our new monthly blog, please email us at

Also, click on the link to see the first post in our new blog...
(this blog entry includes new pics from our wedding!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Our Wedding and Our New Home!

by John Coffey

Jam and I can hardly believe that our wedding is just over a month away (this October 11th!). It seems like just yesterday when I met Jam on a train two years ago. Now we're serving the community together, planning our future and even buying a house!

That's right, we've decided to get a home loan here because we genuinely feel called to serve long-term in Manila. We will also save a lot more this way as opposed to renting. Construction on our brand new home begins in November, so we'll be living in my current apartment for our first 6 months (give or take) as newlyweds. A development company will be constructing what they call a "semi-complete" home, because we can save further by having Jam's father (who works in construction) do the final touches of installing tiles, cabinets, and painting. The location is just outside of Metro Manila in Bacoor, Cavite where the air is cleaner and the property is cheaper. We will thus be commuting to work at IT Tender. By God's grace, we're planning to put our roots down and raise a family in this home, so it will have two floors and three bedrooms. This means that until we have children we have multiple guest rooms for you to come stay in!

My lovely mom and sister are planning a wedding shower for Jam and I in Elmira, Ontario. We would be blessed if you could join us in celebrating our upcoming marriage even though we are far away. Here are the details that Linda and Erin would like to share with you:

"We're having a cross-continental wedding shower for John & Jam!"
Sunday September 21, 6:30-8:30pm in Elmira - John & Jam will join us by Skype!

What - a money bridal shower to help them establish their new home - yes, all gifts need to be small enough to fit in cards for us to take to the Philippines!

Where - International Teams Office, 1 Union Street, Elmira, N3B 3J9
When - Sunday September 21, Open House from 6:30-8:30pm (*J&J will Skype between 7-8pm)
RSVP by September 12 to Linda ( or Erin ( or to their facebook

Jam and I appreciate your prayers and support as we prepare for our wedding and our new home!

The countdown is on to our wedding day on October 11th, 2014
On our way to the Food for Life nutrition program held three times per week (front: Jam; back: John, Manny, Ate Lorna)

Friday, July 25, 2014


by John Coffey

Turn on the news. The top stories today will bombard you with tragedy, hatred, and fighting occurring simultaneously around the world. You won't be too encouraged or inspired by the picture of our world seen through the lens of news cameras. When hopeless headlines are the norm, anything that speaks of compassion, peace, and joy seem like naive sentiments or words best fitted for a Christmas card.

Thankfully, even on the front lines of catastrophe, there are countless stories of quiet compassion, selfless love, and untold heroism. The vast majority of these stories go unnoticed. They are surprisingly common and typically unsensational (not like in the movies). These include the poor, single mother who teaches preschool to street children, the volunteer community worker who picks up the pieces of shanty towns dismantled by typhoons, the street youth who scavenge through dumpsites to provide for their families, and the affluent teenage girl who celebrates her birthday each year by handing out cupcakes and school supplies to street children. These are true stories that I witness everyday here in Manila. I am uplifted each day by these heroes.

I want to share about these individuals not because they need recognition or praise, but rather the opposite. They don't seek recognition or reward. If they want anyone to be recognized for their efforts it's the God who they believe has given them those talents and abilities to serve others.

So here are my "heroes of the month"...

1) Pen Pen from Extreme Response

Pen Pen (left) shares canned goods with one of the locals
Last week a typhoon ripped through Manila, destroying many homes in poor communities. The families of children in our programs were greatly affected by this storm, though we thank God that all of them are alive and safe. I myself had to evacuate my apartment due to excessive flooding and the collapse of part of my ceiling. I feel very fortunate to have been able to move to another apartment while most others in our community don't have that option. Our partners at Extreme Response sent volunteer community worker Pen Pen to assess the damage in our community and work towards a solution in helping families recover. Pen Pen is a bright, young Filipina with a master's degree in community development.

Children from our programs wade through dirty flood waters after the typhoon

Even several of the apartments in my own building were heavily damaged by the storm. This is not my apartment, but my neighbour's.
Most of the residents in my building transferred to safer apartments after parts of our ceilings had collapsed.
2) Jizza Magallanes, Registered Social Worker at IT Tender

Jizza (right) assists families in renewing their contract with our Sponsor-A-Child program that supports their education 
Erica proudly shows off the new backpack she bought through the Sponsor-A-Child program
Jizza Magallanes has been simultaneously leading our Sponsor-A-Child program while going to college to complete her degree in social work. At times her and her family have lived in the IT Tender Drop-In Center because they were unable to afford both Jizza's college tuition and the rent of a place to live. Jizza has prioritized her studies because she wants to be better equipped to serve the community as a licensed social worker. On June 30th Jizza completed and passed her two-day licensing exam and is now a registered social worker. Working on a small team at IT Tender doesn't afford a generous salary or very much recognition. It means long office hours in an unairconditioned office and frequent visits to the community and our clients in the streets. Yet Jizza makes no demands and serves the community with humility and passion. Her heart for our clients and her faith gives her the drive to keep going and invest long-term in the lives of our street children and youth.

3) The Night Life Youth in Putatan

A group of youth in an area called Putatan scavenge through garbage to earn a living. IT Tender staff Lorna Carro reaches out to them through our Night Life program which builds relationships and mentors them with the goal of helping them move off the street and reintegrate with their families and communities. Gabby Malquisto also provides a weekly bible study for these youth to be discipled and gain further direction in their lives.

Our youth scavenge for materials to sell at the local junk shop

Angelo is an active participant in Night Life and in Gabby's bible studies
Over the last year, many of these youth have voiced the desire to complete their high school education, to quit their addictions (e.g., sniffing solvents), and to find better jobs than scavenging. They are resilient despite the hardships they have endured and they inspire me by their desire to change. Thanks to our partnership with Action International, these youth have been invited to apply for an 8-month discipleship and life skills training program at Action's "Honest Hands Discipleship Home". Honest Hands provides tutorials to help them work towards their high school diploma, bible classes, and trainings in cooking and socializing. Students in the program stay in at the discipleship home from monday to friday and go home to their community every weekend to maintain their relationship with their families and churches. We are praying to send three of our youth to the 8-month Honest Hands program which begins next month, and in the future we would love to send more youth to Honest Hands each year. However, our monthly budget at IT Tender falls short of the funds needed to cover the transportation of these youth going back and forth Honest Hands. It costs just $35/month to send one youth to Honest Hands. If you would like to set-up a monthly donation towards IT Tender, please contact me ( or follow the simple directions on our donation page:

8 of our Night Life youth experienced a 1-week trial at the Honest Hands Camp
We are praying to send 3 youth to the 8-month program this year and even more in future years
4) Bianca

My fourth hero of the month is a Filipino teen from an affluent community in Manila. Bianca and her family have supported our programs at IT Tender for the past few years. Last year she celebrated her 14th birthday at our drop-in center by throwing a party for the street children. Both her and the children were so blessed by this experience that she decided to do the same this year. Bianca's 15th birthday on July 20th was an epic day of games, food, and celebration for our kids. Bianca is my hero because she chooses to bring joy to the street children on a day when she could be the centre of attention.

Bianca poses with some of the students from IT Tender's preschool
The children enjoy a cupcake designing competition

Bianca surprises the kids by giving each of them a package of new school supplies
5) Office staff at International Teams

Last but not least, the people serving behind the scenes are just as essential as the people on the front lines. Those of us working in the community wouldn't be able to do our jobs without so many working hard in the offices of International Teams. I want to thank everyone in the offices of IT Philippines, IT Canada and IT Tender. Three of these staff in particular are my personal heroes this month because of their exceptional work in promoting and empowering our programs at IT Tender. These three are Greg Reader (Program Champion for IT Tender at IT Canada), Lauren Anderson (Writer and Editor of International Teams' newsletters), and Chris Fane (Director of Online Services at IT Canada).

Thanks to their efforts, IT Tender now has a comprehensive website where anyone can learn anything they need to know about our programs and how to get involved. Check it out here:

Also, Greg Reader at IT Canada is encouraging anyone and everyone to join the Ride for Refuge bike-a-thon taking place this October 4, 2014. There are Ride for Refuge locations all across North America so anyone can join and help support our efforts in Manila. If you are interested in putting a together a team to ride for IT Tender you can start by registering the team on this page:

If you are interesting in riding, but not being a team leader, please contact Greg Reader at IT Canada at and he will put you in touch with a team that is already formed.

Thanks for following along with my blog! May God give you the inspiration and boldness to be a hero in your own office, community, or across the globe.

Jam & I are thankful to have heroes that encourage and inspire us each day to continue serving God's wonderful children

Saturday, June 14, 2014

From the Street to the Classroom

by John Coffey

Education is empowering. I first joined IT Tender because I admired their fight for the basic human right of education - a right effectively denied to the poorest in Manila. Even public schools with free tuition are a privilege reserved for families who can afford school supplies, packed lunches, and transportation to and from school. This reality in Manila challenges our belief that we value education for all. Is there something we can to do change this situation?

At IT Tender we empower the poor by providing an education to all ages. By God's grace and the support of volunteers and donors, we already have an early childhood education center (SMART Kids), a preschool (Simula Learning Center, or SLC), a sponsorship program (Sponsor-A-Child Now, or SACN), and a tutoring program for out-of-school youth (Alternative Learning System, or ALS). We also partner with the government to connect our high school graduates with opportunities for technical schools and higher education.

Providing an education for the poor is just the beginning. At some point I realized that if I truly care about long-term empowerment of the poor then providing an education is the minimum we should do. Providing a quality education is what we should strive for. Children of any background deserve to experience the best curriculums, enriching field trips, out-of-school tutoring, and more. All of these must also be combined with programs that address the nutrition, hygiene, and financial needs of the poor. This is what we strive for at IT Tender.

Lovely and Lucy (sisters and clients of IT Tender) stop by the IT Tender Center to say hi on their way home from public school.
Reynalyn is also excited for the first week of school. She regularly attends our Night Life program after school.
June marks the beginning of the school year in Manila. Each of our educational programs thus begin again this month, including our SMART Kids program for toddlers and youth mothers. SMART Kids is an opportunity for mothers to bond with their children in a safe environment and to be a part of their early education.

Meeting the mothers at a two-day trial and orientation kicking off the new school year of SMART Kids
 The two-day trial was packed with excited children and eager mothers ready to enroll
At SMART Kids, the mothers themselves are empowered to teach and learn with their toddlers

Jam watches over one of the infants so a mother can focus on her toddler
The new school year of our ALS program also started this month. Through ALS, Gabby helps to prepare out-of-school youth to pass their high school equivalency exam. When Gabby isn't busy in the ALS classroom, he can be found on the streets mentoring and leading bible studies with our Night Life youth and encouraging street youth to join ALS and complete their high school degree.

I share a brief message of encouragement in Tagalog for the new ALS enrollees
Gabby mentors street youth in Putatan who make a living sifting through garbage piles along the railway
Our short-term missionaries from Denmark, Janne & Martin, led an activity that broke barriers and strengthened relationships with the Putatan street youth whom Gabby is mentoring. This activity of service and humility was modelled after Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Jesus said to his disciples "You call me teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" (John 13:13-17, ESV).

Jesus modelled the example of a teacher and leader who is willing to get his hands dirty and serve the very people who look up to him and follow him. We should have the humility and grace to do the same. Many of the youth were nervous at first to let Martin & Janne touch their street-worn feet. But their initial timidity was replaced by smiles and laughter when they saw how easily and joyfully Martin & Janne stooped down to wash their feet.

Jomel giggles as Martin scrubs his ankles
Gabby washes the feet of his disciple Javar
A memorable moment of humility - Javar himself chooses to wash the feet of his younger brother
Finally, I want to leave you with photos from our recent field trip to the Mind Museum in Manila. This unforgettable experience was enjoyed by the children in our Sponsor-A-Child Now program and our Food for Life nutrition program. Thank you to all of those who sponsor a child at IT Tender for contributing to this event through your monthly support. Thanks also to Adam Hussey, Karin Jose, my personal supporters, and the staff and volunteers of IT Tender for their contributions. Finally, we want to give special thanks to Children's Hour and the Extreme Response Children's Home for partnering with us to make this event possible.

Please enjoy the pictures from this fun and enriching experience for our children...

On the bus ride to the museum the staff (behind) are just as excited as the kids
Upon arrival we are greeted by a friendly robot named Aedi

The kids enjoy some very advanced, interactive exhibits

Cecille and Gabby get "re-energized" to keep up with the kids all day
Just some of the "wild creatures" you can study at the museum 
We enjoyed meals from the Filipino-favourite "Jollibee" on the bus between our museum tour and a stop at a local playground
As if we didn't have enough fun at the museum, we ended our adventure-filled day at a giant playground

Thanks for reading. Please remember these children in your prayers for the new 2014-15 school year.

Take care!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gabby is Going to College!

by John Coffey

Please enjoy this brief, 2-minute video of our very own Gabby Malquisto sharing his exciting news...

Gabby seeks to improve himself and also to improve our programs for out-of-school youth by getting a degree in education and becoming our own licensed high school teacher at IT Tender. Growing up in poverty himself, going to college is a huge challenge for Gabby. He has already enrolled by faith, using his personal funds for the enrolment fees and entrance exam (which he passed!). We now need to raise $500 per semester to cover his tuition and school expenses. An additional $200 per semester would cover his transportation for the long commute each day. His first semester is in June, so the rally for support is urgent. Donations of any amount will greatly help Gabby’s education.

For more information on how to support Gabby's college, email John Coffey (Director of IT Tender) at

Gabby currently mentors and prepares out-of-school youth for their high school equivalency exam
On May 1st, IT Tender hosted our annual "Family Day" at a swimming resort for 250 children and parents from our education and nutrition programs. For many families, they were experiencing this kind of outing at a nice swimming pool for the very first time. The joy in their faces is evident from the photos. It's also our joy at IT Tender to encourage families to bond and develop relationships within their community. Filipinos are a resilient people who understand the importance of family. However, the strain of poverty still threatens to disintegrate relationships and ultimately lead to broken families. While this Family Day may seem like such a simple event, it is actually an unforgettable day that these families will cherish forever.

Theresa (from our Sponsor-A-Child program) enjoys a dip 

Catherine (from our preschool) enjoys the free photo booth where each family got to take home a framed family photo

Adorable smiles from some BFF's in our FFL (Food For Life) nutrition program 
From April 28 to May 1, I joined the "Leader Mundial Summit" in Atlanta, Georgia. This was an incredibly edifying and empowering retreat for global leaders from organizations around the world. I'm thankful for the things I learned from one-on-one coaching, group seminars, and plenty of free materials and resources. Please continue to pray for me as I gain more experience as a leader and strive to constantly improve myself for the benefit of my team and our clients at IT Tender.

This is what a group of global leaders, pastors, and CEO's looks like.
...and this is what a group of global leaders, pastors, and CEO's acts like.