In 2015, Keenan’s Kids undertook to add Cuba to its list of supported countries. Keenan’s paternal grandmother was born in Cuba. She loved her grandmother, who never lost her Cuban accent, and was would always tell her stories about the beauty of growing up in Cuba, the compassion of its hard working people and how she married the love of her life, Keenan’s grandfather, an American, before moving to the US at age 27. But she also shared the story of how Keenan’s paternal grandparents were forced to flee from Cuba to the United States for safety during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This was a very sad time and Keenan’s grandmother was never able to return to Cuba after that time.

Fortunately, however, since the beginning of the Obama administration, relations with Cuba have started to improve. And so, another opportunity for Keenan’s Kids presented itself. We thought that it would make Keenan smile, once again, to know that Keenan’s Kids was on a mission to help the children of her grandmother’s beloved Cuba.

Through our good friends, Jose Maria and Maria Teresa DeLasa, we had the great fortune to be introduced to Consuelo Isaacson. Consuelo is the Director of Friends of Caritas Cubana, the US sister organization of Caritas Cuba. Caritas is the major philanthropic organization in Cuba and is supported in large part by the Catholic church in Cuba. The organization provides a variety of services and economic assistance to the young, the elderly and the sick.

After our second visit to Cuba, and with the support and partnership with Caritas, Keenan’s Kids discovered where it could make a difference. It was in the region of Pinar del Rio, which lies a couple hours drive southwest of Havana. There, Keenan’s Kids has undertaken to support (by providing food and nutrition) to three children’s daycare centers (“Guarderias” in Spanish). Each Guarderia has approximately 40 children ranging in age from 2 to 5. We work closely with Caritas, the caretakers and cooks that watch over these children, and reflect on how fortunate we are to be able to work here in Keenan’s spirit.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba

Keenan’s paternal grandmother, Dulce Maria Cancela Rodriguez de Fernandez, was born and raised in Havana Cuba. We felt that Keenan would have wanted Keenan’s Kids to give back in Cuba for all that her grandmother did for her. So, during February 2016, Frank and Maureen accompanied a wonderful woman, Consuelo Issacson, to Havana Cuba. Consuelo is affiliated with the philanthropic organization, Caritas, and is responsible for raising half of their annual budget in the US. Caritas’ operations in Cuba are extensive, including support for indigent children, down syndrome children, and providing a variety of services for the sick and elderly.

read more