Father’s Day celebration arrives early for group of abused and neglected kids

For many abused and neglected children who have been taken away from their parents, Father’s Day may be one of those difficult holidays to celebrate. So a group of men at Ministerio Nueva Jerusalen Internacional church in West Kendall decided they would organize a fun day for some of these kids and celebrate Father’s Day as it should be.

On Saturday, 52 children between the ages of 4 and 17 from His House Children’s Home, a nonprofit organization that provides residential care for these children until they go to foster families, visited the church at 5400 SW 122nd Ave. for a day of fun and food in the sun with bounce houses, face painting, snow cones, cotton candy, a waterside, a rock climbing wall, basketball, a train, a clown, sandwiches, chips and Coldstone ice cream.

The event was held by the Men’s Ministry at the church with the help of 75 volunteers from Southwest High School and 45 church volunteers. Coldstone Ice Cream on Southwest 125th Avenue and 120th Street in West Kendall donated enough ice cream for 300 people, Carlito’s Way Party Rental donated a bounce house, and other private donors made the event possible through monetary donations.

Eddie Peralta, father of three to Stephanie, 19, Joshua, 8, Caleb, 8 months, and husband to Ydania, heads the Men’s Ministry that holds two major events a year. They also work with the elderly throughout the year and act as handymen for the church, changing lightbulbs and cutting the grass.

The Men’s Ministry decided to create an annual Father’s Day event for the children of His House Children’s Home after working with the organization through the Youth Ministry.

“A lot of these children don’t have fathers, they are foster children, some have been abandoned, so we wanted to do something special for them,” Peralta said.

The Peraltas have been members of Ministerio Nueva Jerusalen Internacional for 13 years and lived in West Kendall for about 10. Church is where they spend a lot of their time individually and together as a family.

“We want to give back to the community,” Peralta said. “We are a church that gives back.”

On Saturday, the entire Peralta family arrived at the church at 8 a.m. to prepare for the event. “Instead of thinking about me, me, me, we think about others,” said Ydania Peralta, “To be able to do this as a family teaches our children that they are blessed.”

Stephanie Peralta, 19, will begin studying public relations at Miami-Dade College in the fall. All the Peralta children are home-schooled and Stephanie took classes at Florida International University during high school. She is the head of the Drama Ministry that puts on a play for both Easter and Christmas and also a leader in the Youth Ministry.

Volunteering has been a part of growing up. “Being with my family and helping people in need are my two favorite things,” Stephanie Peralta said. “It keeps me grounded and I’ve honestly always loved doing it.”

Eddie and Ydania head the Couples Ministry. The family said they attend church every Sunday, study bible passages on Wednesday, and work on their individual obligations.

Even with three kids, a wife, and lots of obligations to the church there is still time to let loose. “One thing we [at the Men’s Ministry] love to do together is paintballing,” Peralta said. “As brothers we get together and let off steam.”

“As a father, I can’t imagine my life without my kids,” he said. “I can’t imagine any child not having the love and support of a parent. It’s why we hope to make a difference in the lives of the His House kids, show them we genuinely care about them and make this an annual Father’s Day tradition.”

Editor’s note: None of the abused or neglected children were interviewed or photographed for this story because many are in the process of having their parents’ rights terminated and therefore permission could not be sought.

For West Kendall Today


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