Father Chuck's Legacy Transforms Lives in Haiti and Nicaragua

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 24, 2011) — Have you ever been hugged so tightly you could feel the other person’s heartbeat? Embraces full of gratitude welcomed Monsignor Francis X. Schmidt and residents from the Philadelphia area to villages in Haiti and Nicaragua that they have helped to transform with the relief and development organization Food For The Poor.

Monsignor Schmidt's first group journeyed by boat with Food For The Poor to Father Pfeffer’s Fishing Village in Baussan, Haiti.

"We, working with Father Chuck’s Challenge in partnership with Food For The Poor, are performing important corporal works of mercy," said Msgr. Schmidt. "God blesses us with very generous donors to help very poor but very grateful beneficiaries."

Msgr. Schmidt’s first group journeyed by boat to Father Pfeffer’s Fishing Village in Baussan, Haiti, on May 25 to inaugurate the 30 two-room home coastal fishing village. Along the conch shell-lined beach, crowds of thankful villagers waded in the shallow water to greet the travelers with song and dance. In addition to building much needed homes in Baussan, the group also represented donors who funded the income-generating fishing village project in the community.

"What I like about Father Chuck's Challenge and Food For The Poor is that they commit to places, and they stick with those places for extended periods of time to transform lives," said Eugene 'Gene' Halus, Jr., Associate Professor of Politics at Immaculate University in Pennsylvania. "That's what I saw in Haiti, and why I'm happy to keep raising funds for Father Chuck's Challenge and for Food For The Poor."

Villagers gathered along the coast to welcome visitors to Father Pfeffer's Fishing Village in Baussan, Haiti.

Father Pfeffer’s Fishing Village is just one of the 33 fully operational fishing villages Food For The Poor has built along destitute coastal communities throughout Haiti. Fishing villages are a prime example of the effectiveness of self-sufficiency projects. The cooperative is supplied with boats, motors, fishing tackle and safety gear, refrigeration equipment, a storage facility and, most importantly, training for the fishermen. The fishermen are then able to fish in deeper, more bountiful waters and catch larger, more profitable fish. The entire village benefits from this enterprise because many of the villagers buy fish wholesale in order to sell them retail, while others sell the cooked fish to local residents.

During the June 6-10 trip, group members witnessed how donations from their parish communities were able to provide families with safe, sturdy housing, sanitation facilities, access to clean water, schooling and healthcare, in addition to the supplies and resources necessary to raise chickens.

Since 2007, Msgr. Schmidt also has supported projects in Nicaragua in honor of Father Chuck Pfeffer, a priest who was beloved by the community. Through the construction of 525 two-room homes in Nicaragua, Father Chuck’s Challenge provides a constant reminder to all who knew him about the importance of addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor – especially the young.

Fr. Chuck’s Challenge Projects in Nicaragua include:

  1. Fr. Pfeffer’s Village, 100 homes and St. Eleanor Health Clinic, in Bijagual
  2. Fr. Chuck’s Challenge II, 200 homes (Frances’ Village and Father Michael McGivney Village) and Holy Family Health Clinic, in La Rica
  3. Fr. Chuck’s Challenge III, 100 homes (San Estefano Village and San Augustin Village), in El Tuma-La Dalia
  4. Fr. Chuck’s Challenge at San Ramon, 50 total homes (San Patricio Village) and San Patricio School, in San Ramon

Msgr. Schmidt is currently fundraising to build the remaining 25 homes in Pantasma. The project consists of 100 homes and development projects. In Nicaragua, a donation of $3,200 provides a destitute family with a permanent two-room house with a latrine. Proper sanitation is essential to the health and welfare of a thriving family and helps prevent life-threatening illnesses.

On this month’s trip, the group revisited the once impoverished community of San Ramón, Nicaragua, located 9 miles outside of Matagalpa. The purpose was to inaugurate 50 furnished homes with access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, a two-room schoolhouse, a community center, a reforestation project and an animal husbandry project. Each family will receive a chicken coop, one rooster and two hens so that they can expand their stock of chickens for meat and eggs, which will supply the family with much needed protein and an additional source of income.

During the ceremony, the Mayor of San Ramon honored guests when he said, "You have led our people to the promised land." A 25-year-old member of the community also spoke at the inauguration to express the villagers’ gratitude for their new homes. She reminded the crowd “that the one who mocks the poor offends the Creator. You have not mocked us, but delivered us from plastic homes to new safe ones." 

Norvin Tercero Garcia and his family, of San Ramon, Nicaragua, once lived in the shack pictured on the left. Thanks to Msgr. Schmidt's donors, the family now lives in the safe and sturdy home pictured on the right.

To support Father Chuck’s Challenge, please make checks payable to Food For The Poor, Inc. and include the special source code "SC # 74186" so the money can be properly allocated. Donations can be mailed to Food For The Poor, Inc., 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. All gifts are tax-deductible. Online donations can also be made through the charity’s secure Web site at www.FoodForThePoor.org/fatherchuckschallenge.

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