Families Reunite for Annual House-building Trip in Jamaica


COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 9, 2011) –To celebrate the importance of family and helping others, 41 Americans journeyed to Jamaica, Feb. 18-21, to give the gifts of presence and shelter to the destitute. In two days, equipped with hammers, paint brushes, and compassion, the group completed the construction of 13 double-unit homes in Jamaica with the international relief and development organization Food For The Poor.

"Each time we return from a Food For The Poor home-building trip, we feel we have connected more deeply with the poor, and feel enlightened and enriched as a result," said Chris Davitt. "These trips bring us closer to our children, to the poor, and to the others who participated."

The annual trips offer parents the opportunity to demonstrate to their children the importance and benefits of being good stewards and team players. Since 1999, this group of committed donors has raised money to build homes and schools with Food For The Poor, improving the health and living conditions of many throughout Jamaica and Haiti.

(L to R) Luke Andersen and Elsa Friis shared the gift of presence with those they met.

Food For The Poor is committed to building permanent homes in developing countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. For $3,200, Food For The Poor can build a home with sanitation to replace a crumbling shack made of scraps that leaks when it rains. In 2010, Food For The Poor constructed a total of 9,460 new housing units with concrete foundations, locking doors, windows, and a zinc roof with hurricane straps.

"On behalf of those Food For The Poor serves, thank you for your generosity and continuous support," said Robin Mahfood , Food For The Poor’s President/CEO. "Through your example you have done more than restore dignity to the destitute, you have inspired your children to continue your family legacy of giving to the least of our brothers and sisters."

"Even though I have toured with Food For The Poor many times, I always return reminded of the vital importance of the charity’s work," said Craig Ruppert. "The impoverished in Clarendon, Jamaica, treat us like we are family, which is just one reason we want to continue to return."

The team paints a home in Jamaica.

In 2010, the mother-daughter and father-son humanitarian teams worked collectively to build and paint Cockpit Basic School in the Cockpit District of Clarendon, Jamaica. This year the group returned to the school, where they were warmly greeted by smiling students holding banners of thanks.

Other activities included the preparation and distribution of meals to the homeless at a street feeding initiative, walking the inner city streets of southwest Kingston to witness the harsh reality of life in a developing country, and to see firsthand the difference Food For The Poor projects make in the community, including a self-sustaining fishing village.

"It is hard for most people to understand the word poverty until they come face-to-face with destitution in developing countries on a mission trip," said Mahfood.

Participants from Connelly School of the Holy Child shared their school spirit with the
friends they made while in Jamaica.

This year, more than half of the group was high school or college age. Participants from Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac, Md., brought with them a scarf to share their school spirit. The school’s crest was on the royal blue, gold and white scarf, as well as the school’s motto, “Compassion, Joy, Zeal, Actions Not Words.”

Some of the other education institutions also represented were: Arapahoe High School (Centennial, Colo.), Catonsville High School (Catonsville, Md.), Exeter High School (Exeter, N.H.), Madison High School (Denver, Colo.), Mamaroneck High School (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), Our Lady of Good Counsel High School (Olney, Md.), St. John’s College High School (Washington, D.C.), The Academy of the Holy Cross (Kensington, Md.), The Community College of Baltimore County (Baltimore, Md.), Thomas S. Wootton High School (Rockville, Md.), and Washington and Lee University (Lexington, Va.).

House-building travelers included: Luke Andersen, Jim Bloomer, Conor Bloomer, Chris Callahan, Bridget Callahan, Chris Davitt, Christopher Davitt, Emmet Davitt, Brian Davitt, Ingrid Davitt, Allie Davitt, Jack Devine, Emma Devine, Maury Devine, Rick Dolfinger, Sean Dolfinger, Mary Donatelli, Maggie Donatelli, Annie Donatelli, Elsa Friis, Suzanne Friis, John Hollingsworth, Kate Kerner, Craig Leddy, Kate Leddy, Patty Long, Sarah Long, Battista Orcino, Dominic "Nicky" Orcino, Dan Ossing, David Ossing, Patty Pescrille, Lindsey Pescrille, Bob Quakenbush, Will Quakenbush, Craig and Patty Ruppert, Wooly "Rita" Ward, Becky Ward, Joe Zell, and Kevin Zell.

Team members stood unified after they completed the construction of a double-unit home.

You can learn more about Food For The Poor’s mission trips by viewing the mission trips video on YouTube, calling 1-800-427-9104 ext. 6216 or by e-mailing missions@foodforthepoor.com.

A video about the house-building trip to Jamaica is also available on YouTube.

Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Food For The Poor
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054