Building Hope Gala Committee Members Journey to Jamaica

Building Hope Gala Committee members toured the community of Canaan Heights, where they witnessed the plight of residents

Building Hope Gala Committee members toured the community of Canaan Heights, where they witnessed the plight of residents.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2012) – Huddled inside a desperate family’s dark, dilapidated shack in Jamaica, members of the Building Hope Gala committee offered the promise of new Food For The Poor homes. 

“We have poverty in our country, but the levels are just so different,” said Cathy Moabery, a gala committee chair. “I feel so much for the children. It’s not their fault. How can you not give them a bed to sleep on? How can you not give them a dry home?”

On Dec. 3, committee members from Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Lighthouse Point  and Parkland traveled to Canaan Heights in May Pen, Jamaica, with Food For The Poor to meet the residents and to see the community’s deplorable living conditions.

“Families with small children live crammed together in a space smaller than some people’s closets,” said Robin Knowles, a committee member. “They have no running water, no sanitation, no electricity, leaky roofs, holes in the walls, literally just pieces of tin patched together to make a home.”

One of the small dilapidated shacks they visited was home to a mother and her six children. She shared how rough and dangerous life is for her family. At times she has thought how much easier life would be if she was to run away and leave the children behind, but she cannot imagine leaving them. Instead, she prays and has kept a detailed diary documenting her tears, fears and frustrations.

“Overwhelmingly, the women want more for their lives but they are stuck,” said Laurie Braden, a committee member. “No help, no husbands, no income, and little to feed their children. I did see hope in all of them, but at the same time how stuck they are.”  Proceeds from the upcoming Building Hope Gala in Boca Raton will build safe and secure new homes with sanitation for 65 impoverished families in Canaan Heights.

“When you hear about the poverty in Jamaica, you can’t imagine the reality until you see it firsthand,” said Knowles. “The level of poverty is just shocking. Especially when we live in a place like Boca, and even though there are places in need locally, it just doesn’t compare.”

The 2013 Building Hope Gala will be Saturday, Feb. 2, at The Polo Club of Boca Raton. Attendees will be invited to create a legacy by pledging to build critically needed houses in Jamaica during the charity’s live house rally.

“The Building Hope Gala is not just a saying – we are building hope and homes for families,” said Becky Carlsson, a gala committee chair. “I am amazed that it is 2012 and that people live in such extreme poverty.”

For additional information regarding the 2013 Building Hope Gala, sponsorship levels, and tickets, available at $250 per person, please call 1-888-404-4248 or visit

“If people can’t attend the Gala, I hope they will consider making a donation toward a house that will drastically change someone’s life. Every donation helps,” said Carlsson.

The Building Hope Gala committee will host a pre-event on Dec. 6, in time for the holiday season. Join the committee for champagne and hors d’oeuvres at Gregory’s Fine Jewelry in Delray Beach’s The Addison Shops to purchase a dazzling piece of jewelry for your loved one. A portion of the proceeds from sales will be donated toward the gala’s homebuilding efforts in Jamaica.

Committee members for the 2013 Building Hope Gala include Laurie Braden, Kelly Brauner, Becky Carlsson, Melissa Davimos, Ronda Ellis Ged, Ronda Gluck, Michele Greene, LaMae Klos, Robin Ranzal Knowles, Julie Mahfood, Rene Mahfood, Pamela Matsil, Cathy Moabery, Jill Perea, Tashia Rahl, Kara Seelye, Natasha Singh, Renee Stetler, Holly Strogoff, Allison Venditti, Patricia Wallace, and Traci Wilson.

Master of ceremonies, Jason Martinez, co-anchor for WPLG-TV ABC Local 10 Morning News and Local 10 News at Noon, traveled to Jamaica in August to cover the island’s golden jubilee.

Gala sponsors include AKA Printing and Mailing, Aljoma Lumber, American Nicaraguan Foundation, Bank United, Bluegreen Corporation, The Boca Raton Observer, Dennis Charley & Associates, Inc., Dusco Doors, Ellis, Ged, & Bodden,  Franklin Dodd Communications, GA Telesis, Gregory’s Fine Jewelry, Quadriga Art, LLC, Seaboard Marine, TD Bank, and VITAS Innovative Hospice Care.

Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry 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

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations
954) 427-2222 x6054