Jolinda Wade's Journey to Haiti: Mother of NBA Star Wants to Make a Difference with Food For The Poor

Pastor Jolinda Wade meets the residents of Manneville, Haiti, where Food For The Poor has begun building new concrete block homes for the neediest families.

Pastor Jolinda Wade meets the residents of Manneville, Haiti, where Food For The Poor has begun building new concrete block homes for the neediest families.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Oct. 29, 2012) – It’s a hot October morning, and the sounds of shuffling feet are masked only by the joyful voices from a parade of people trotting along a well-worn path. The drum beat in the distance and a rustling wave of tree branches appear to be keeping this crowd in step.

This is a day of celebration for hundreds who were once homeless, but now have a home of their own in a new Food For The Poor built village in Olivier, Haiti. Right in the middle of this celebratory scene was Jolinda Wade, a pastor from Chicago, Ill. Pastor Wade, the mother of Heat star, Dwayne Wade, decided to take her first trip to Haiti with the international relief and development organization. She was able to see first-hand what’s being done by Food For The Poor to help the people of this Caribbean nation get back on their feet.

“Language-wise they may not understand everything you’re saying, but they do understand hopes, dreams, family and Food For The Poor,” said Jolinda Wade.

No stranger to hard times, Pastor Wade speaks and writes openly about her past struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, and her time in prison.  She also knows what it is like to be homeless. When an elderly woman invited her inside her crumbling mud hut, with only a few modest items and a wafer-thin mattress on a dirt floor, Pastor Wade stood speechless for a moment before sharing a brief glimpse into her past experience.   

“When I was in a homeless situation, we got into a building that we had to call home, and we had to sleep on a mattress, such as the mattress she has to sleep on,” said Pastor Wade. “We had to eat what we could eat, we had to bathe the best way we could bathe, and we had to use the bathroom the best way we could use the bathroom. But, I can say this here – never was one of those instances as bad as where I am now.”

Just as night is followed by the light of a new day, Pastor Wade and her four children have moved beyond that dark time in their lives. Son Dwyane Wade has been called one of the best NBA players in the world, and Jolinda is now dedicated to helping those less fortunate. She believes that with God, anyone can overcome their circumstances if they’re given an opportunity to do so – and she’s determined to help as many as possible to do just that.

“Pastor Jolinda Wade is a tremendous woman. She has such a passion for life and for making life better for others,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “There are many reports about what’s not being done in Haiti, so we’re honored that Pastor Wade was willing to travel with us to see how our caring, compassionate donors have enabled this organization to help one person, one family and one village at a time."

It was the loving support of the Building Hope Gala committee members from the communities of Boca Raton and Parkland, Fla., that helped to make the village in Olivier, Haiti, a reality for the hundreds of grateful new homeowners. Pastor Wade also had the privilege during her visit to present keys to the new homeowners and to tour the new houses. While in Haiti she also visited the Food For The Poor feeding center, Bernard Mevs Hospital and the Little Children of Jesus home for disabled orphans near Port-au-Prince.

“My time in Haiti has been bittersweet.  I laughed and cried a lot. As devastating as their lives had become, the thing that brought tears to my eyes was the faith of these people,” said Pastor Wade.

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. 

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Wanda Wright
Food For The Poor Public Relations
(954) 427-2222 x 6079