Fr. William B. Wasson of Phoenix, Arizona, is ordained in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on May 24.
Fr. Wasson is given custody of a boy jailed for stealing from his church poor box because “he was hungry.” By the end of the week, eight more boys had joined the family. Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos was officially founded on August 2.
Hurricane Hilda hits the port of Tampico, Mexico. Father Wasson obtained a free airline ticket to the stricken city and began to collect orphaned children. Thirty-nine boys were flown by cargo plane to the warehouse in Cuernavaca. There were now a total of 69 boys in the family.
Girls join the NPH family.
There are now 396 Pequeños – 300 boys and 96 girls, and 60 were under the age of six. The children were living in various homes and warehouses in Cuernavaca and Acolman.
NPH builds its own high school in Cuernavaca.
NPH USA (then Friends of Our Little Brothers) incorporates as one of Arizona’s first non-profits.
Our Little Brothers and Sisters, Inc. is established in Virginia to raise funds for NPH. It will subsequently establish fundraising offices in Europe as well as Canada.
Casa San Salvador in Miacatlán, México, is acquired. Work begins to refurbish the old sugar plantation — now home to nearly 1,000 NPH children.
Fr. Wasson receives the Mexican National Prize for his outstanding contribution to the children of Mexico. He was, at the time, the only U.S. citizen to have received the award.
The National Catholic Development Conference gives Fr. Wasson the Good Samaritan Award.
• Fr. Wasson receives the Franciscan International Award.
• An affiliated but separate NPH USA nonprofit support group forms in Minnesota.
A new NPH home opens in Haiti.
A NPH USA office is established in Washington.
• Fr. Wasson and Fr. Rick Frechette found a medical center in Petionville, Haiti. This would later become St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.
• NPH Honduras opens Casa de los Angeles opened in the capital city, Tegucigalpa. Originally meant to house children with AIDS, the center soon grew to house orphaned youth with severe disabilities.
• On October 30, the Mexican Government awards Father Wasson the Aztec Eagle for his work on behalf of Mexican children. This is the highest award the government confers on a foreigner.
NPH Honduras opens Casa Eva, a home for elderly adults who have been abandoned.
Fr. Wasson establishes an NPH home in Nicaragua.
Guatemala is the site of the fifth NPH home.
The Caring Institute of Washington, D.C. gives Fr. Wasson the National Caring Award.
Fr. Wasson National receives KFC’s Colonel’s Way Award honoring amazing seniors and El Sol de Nuestra Comunidad Award presented by the Hispanic community of Phoenix, AZ.
• An NPH home opens in war-torn El Salvador.
• A NPH USA office is established in Illinois.
Fr. Wasson receives Kellogg’s Hannah Neil World of Children Award for his life work with orphaned children. The $100,000 prize is given to individuals who make a world of difference in the world of children.
• An NPH home opens in the Dominican Republic.
• Fr. Wasson celebrates his Golden Jubilee as a priest and his 80th birthday.
• Fr. Wasson receives the Jefferson Award for Public Service, which is recognized as the “Nobel Prize” for public service in America. Nominated by a former pequeño, Fr. Wasson was recognized for his volunteer service to the Hispanic community. From June 16 – 18, a total of 57 individuals were honored at events in Washington D.C.
• Peru becomes the first country in South America to have an NPH home.
• At a ceremony in Germany on October 3, 2004, Fr. Wasson receives the International Erich Fromm Society Annual Award “in recognition of his work as founder of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, as spiritual father of the orphanages in Latin America and for his permanently lived example of his ‘Love of Life’ in the spirit of Erich Fromm.”
• NPH celebrates its 50th anniversary.
• The ninth NPH home, located in Bolivia, opens.
• NPH Honduras opens Pasos Pequenitos, a day care for single mothers in Tegucigalpa.
• Fr. Wasson wins the Ivy Humanitarian Prize, awarded by the Ivy Inter-American Foundation to “recognize individuals who have made extraordinary humanitarian contributions toward improving the lives of children and their communities in the Americas.” He received a $10,000 prize to support NPH on September 22, 2005, in Washington, D.C.
• The Opus Prize Foundation gives Fr. Wasson a $100,000 prize at a ceremony at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on November 7, 2005, for making a significant difference in the lives of people who need help the most.
• On July 1, the fundraising offices in Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington became regional offices of the national organization – NPH USA. In addition, new regional offices were formed in Miami, Florida, and Washington, D.C., which were made possible by the fundraising support of Our Little Brothers and Sisters.
Fr. Wasson dies on August 16 in Cottonwood, Arizona. A funeral is held in Phoenix and memorial services are held at all of the NPH homes.
• Founded by John Shinsky, Ciudad de los Niños (“City of the Children”) opens in Matamoros, Mexico, as a project of NPH International.
• Holy Family Surgery Center opens at NPH Honduras and offers surgerical services to NPH children, employees and the general public.
• In response to devastating twin disasters of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and cholera outbreak in Haiti, NPH creates new and expanded programs in childcare, healthcare and emergency aid.
• NPH Nicaragua launches the Good Samaritan Program to provide medical services and therapies to children living with disabilities, and counseling and tutoring for parents so they may provide quality care for their children.
Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, D.O., co-founder of NPH Haiti and St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, receives the Opus Prize, a faith based humanitarian award that recognizes unsung heroes solving today’s most persistent social problems.
• Friends of the Orphans changes name to NPH USA in order to create a global brand with consistency to our donors, to more closely align the brand with our mission and the children we serve, and to expand the focus to both the children and programs that we support.
• NPH Dominican Republic and NPH Honduras complete construction of special needs homes, and NPH Haiti constructs Kay Gabriel adult and pediatric rehabilitation therapy center.
NPH International celebrates 60 years of raising children.
• NPH Guatemala launches their NPH OneFamily program, reintegrating 29 children into their biological families’ homes.
• On June 7, Dr. Pilar Silverman, Director of Medical Services for NPH International, receives the United Nations Women Together Award.
NPH El Salvador opens Centro Bienestar Infantil (CBI) daycare center to provide children aged 1 – 7 who live in vulnerable communities in Santa Ana, and the children
of Hermanos Mayores (“Older Siblings”) who were raised at the NPH home, with preschool education, health care, and meals.
• NPH Dominican Republic opens a transition home in Monte Plata to provide protection, emergency, or short-term care to children and adolescents, focusing on family reintegration.
• NPH Honduras opens Casa Mi Esperanza in Catacamas to provide a temporary home for at-risk children while a safe and permanent living situation is found.
• NPH Guatemala opens Sagrada Familia Daycare Center on the NPH property to provide care and early stimulation for 2-to-4-year-old children of single parents with limited resources.
• NPH Honduras opens San José Family Center in Mata de Plátano to provide vulnerable children, adolescents, and families with tutoring, physical and psychological therapies, training, healthcare, and nutritional assistance.
NPH collaborator One World Surgery opens at NPH Dominican Republic and carried out 15 mission trips and 6,215 primary care consults.
NPH Guatemala opens the Father William Wasson Family Center opened 5 miles from the NPH home in Chimaltenango to focus on supporting and strengthening families by filling vital gaps in services to help children, people with disabilities, and single mothers. The Center offers free nutrition, daycare, and tutoring for children; speech and physical therapy for children and adults; and training for parents.