Caring Hearts Ministry
"I believe in this with all of my heart, and I will never stop trying for the kids of Mexico.”
Nashville since 2011.
In November 1986, retired Pastor Oliver Knell and Phoenix businessman Harold McKamish drove an old pick up truck across the Mexican border looking for someone in need of help. On the drive down, they prayed, “Lord let us be a blessing to these people.” They had no way of knowing as they uttered those words that a full-time, multi-faceted ministry called Caring Hearts would be born from their impromptu foray into San Luis R.C., Sonora, Mexico. 1
Twenty years later, ‘Papa Harold’, as McKamish is affectionately called, was at a church in Pittsburgh, PA on a fundraising tour for Caring Hearts. After hearing his message, Natalie Hennessy, just 12 years old at the time, reluctantly agreed to go on a mission trip to the orphanage later that year. “I used to be the most shy person in the world, and I never would’ve done it,” said Hennessy. But someone in her church, she still doesn’t know who, offered to specifically sponsor her so she could go on the trip to Mexico. On that first visit, Hennessy met a young girl to whom she promised she’d return the following year. “Well, you can’t lie to an orphan!” she said. In fact, she’s maintained her relationship with the girl to this day. “She’s taller than me now,” she laughed.
The orphanage, located a 15-minute drive from the southern border of Arizona, consists of 16 boys who permanently live on its campus. Additionally, every morning 200 children come from across San Luis to eat breakfast before school. “We realized that the reason they weren’t doing well in school is because they were hungry,” Natalie explained. The same kids come back after school to a Bible School and for tutoring. CHM also works with its missionaries to build housing for families with disabled parents who cannot work, and they have built a Blind Center so that the local visually-impaired people ‘wouldn’t have to continue meeting under a tree’ but rather have a center to meet and learn. 2
Natalie continued her annual visits to Mexico through high school graduation. She moved to Nashville in 2012 to attend Belmont University, and graduated in 2016 with a degree in, not surprisingly, social work. Now employed as the only full-time employee for the orphanage in the United States, Hennessy has chosen Nashville as her home base to serve CHM domestically. It was the people and the energy of the Music City that convinced her to stay here. “People who move to Nashville are brave and they’re usually pursuing some type of crazy dream,” she said. “When they see this thing and it puts passion in them, they aren’t scared to go after it…I’ve been amazed by the groups that come back with fresh perspective, using their skills to put on concerts and fundraisers.”
Natalie works now to continue changing lives, not just the ones at the orphanage, but also those that join her on mission trips. “I always thought I was going to move to Mexico and help these people,” she said, “but then after bringing my friends from Nashville and seeing how it changes their lives, it has become by biggest passion.” She encourages people to use that enthusiasm they gain from their mission to do good in Nashville and to continue growing philanthropically, but to not lose sight of the children of San Luis that inspired them. “Do it in Nashville, find some way to invest your skills…but, at the same time, don’t forget about Mexico.”
Having found her calling, Hennessy is more determined than ever to keep her promise she made to an orphan over a decade ago. “I believe in this with all my heart, and I will never stop trying for the kids of Mexico.”
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