Our special series on Hernando Heroes continues with Sandie DeConinck. All of the Hernando Heroes featured were nominated by members of the community.
By SHARON PRINTZ
Sandie DeConinck is a resident of Hernando County, but her heart belongs to the people of Nicaragua. For 16 years, she has traveled to the poorest country in Central America to improve their living conditions. She has earned the title of Grandma with the people she serves, especially the children. For seven years, Sandie has been a group leader and organizer with the “Chosen Children” missionary society and recruits volunteer teams from three churches in Spring Hill and Hernando County to accompany her on the annual trips. Most Nicaraguan families they work with live in utter poverty. Their homes are shacks with dirt floors made of salvaged wood, cardboard and corrugated metal from dumps. There is no water in the homes, and it must be picked up at a community well or a central government delivery point twice a week.
Sandie and her mission teams use local people to build small houses, giving them an opportunity to learn construction trades. They conduct a Bible school study program and provide material for local schools. In addition, Sandie finds sponsors for year-round support of children and their families, which ensures a nutritious monthly food source and provides adequate supplies for school needs. Additionally, children learn to be responsible for family members. Over the years, Sandie has found many people willing to support a Nicaraguan child, which benefits the entire family and fosters a healthy home environment.
Sandie’s own words best describe the villages so everyone can understand her passion and motivation for these trips: “People in the villages live in a 12’ by 12’ house, but most sheds in the United States are in better shape. They usually have dirt floors, structures made of whatever they could find in a dump pile, rotted corrugated metal mixed with cardboard boxes and perhaps a little wood. Some villages have a community well where people walk to get water. Others gather water from government trucks that go into the villages twice a week. The people in those villages are able to fill a 55-gallon drum on a cart with wheels and they pull the cart home through the dirt along bumpy roads. The family uses water for outside cooking, washing clothes and personal hygiene. What I love so much is the people are so happy with so little! They are kind, loving and grateful for anything we do for them. We go for a week and usually build a metal house for a family chosen by the local church. Our team will raise money for the house ($2400) and we also raise funds to feed the village a meal each day. We get to play and interact with all the children, which my team loves the most!
Chosen Children also offers opportunities to sponsor children. A $35 monthly sponsorship provides a large food bag, schooling and medical needs. Each sponsored child attends the local church, which is usually just a metal roof with concrete floors (some have block walls), where they learn about God and a message of salvation through Jesus Christ. There were 19 people on the last mission in March 2023, and out of that group, 17 have sponsored children in the village. I can tell you that your money through Chosen Children does go where you allocate it!”
We are to go into the world and “make disciples of all the nations.” Sandie DeConinck’s mission trips are the fulfillment of serving others, and our Hernando Hero is the embodiment of faith, hope and love for all people. Her teams improve living conditions in the communities they visit.
Hernando County residents wanting to participate in Sandie’s mission trips or support her humanitarian work with a tax-deductible donation can contact her at her work number, 352-398-8051. A text message may be the best way to make initial contact. Her email is [email protected].
Sandie’s desire is to grow and expand the work of Chosen Children.