A Celebration of Hope Gala Raises Money to Build 25 Homes in Haiti

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(L to R) Don Saathoff, Anita Saathoff, Dr. Lynne Nasrallah (member of Food For The Poor's Board of Directors and gala Chairwoman), Lisa and Dwight Saathoff (2013 Ambassadors For The Poor), Gail and Robin Mahfood (Food For The Poor's President/CEO).
(L to R) Don Saathoff, Anita Saathoff, Dr. Lynne Nasrallah (member of Food For The Poor's Board of Directors and gala Chairwoman), Lisa and Dwight Saathoff (2013 Ambassadors For The Poor), Gail and Robin Mahfood (Food For The Poor's President/CEO).

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2013) – More than 230 Orlando-area residents attended Food For The Poor’s 14th annual A Celebration of Hope gala presented by Rosen Shingle Creek and Rosen Hotels & Resorts in Orlando on Saturday, Oct. 19. Donations from the event will build 25 homes in Ganthier, Haiti.

"What an amazing show of support,” said Jorge Estevez, anchor for WFTV Channel 9 and WRDQ Channel 27, who served as master of ceremonies. “Central Florida families went above and beyond during Food For the Poor's A Celebration of Hope gala. Their donations will change so many lives. What a meaningful evening with such a great crowd." 

Guests sipped on tropical Rhum Barbancourt specialty drinks and nibbled on savories as they bid on silent auction prizes, such as electronics, jewelry, luxury vacations, golf outings and dining packages to raise money for the cause. Guest Elizabeth O’Brien celebrated with Estevez onstage after he announced she won the evening’s raffle prize – a six-day, five-night stay at the luxurious Beach & Golf Resort Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

“I am deeply grateful for your presence here tonight,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “Most of us have no idea what it is like to be destitute, hungry and without shelter. A safe, sturdy house, with access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right.”

In addition to the opportunity to enjoy an elegant evening of exceptional dining with live music and dancing, guests chose to support a cause they cherish, by pledging to build safe and secure homes for destitute families.

A video of Orlando residents visiting the remote and barren community of Ganthier was shown before the charity’s live house-rally. Some of the attendees cried when they saw the crumbling shacks that offer children and their families little to no protection from the elements and insects.

“Our challenge is not to fix the people of Haiti, for our Haitian brothers and sisters are filled with a strong faith and expressive love,” said Dr. Lynne Nasrallah, who serves on the Food For The Poor Board of Directors and as the gala’s Chairwoman. “But we do need to fix their suffering from a lack of human rights. After all, each Haitian is a child of God, who deserves to live with dignity and justice.”

Estevez, who last month won Orlando’s version of Dancing With The Stars, became so enthusiastic during the live house-rally that he jumped onto a chair in the ballroom to cheer on guests as they raised their hands to donate. A member of the hotel’s event staff, who immigrated to the United States from Guyana, was also moved to donate money to build a home. By the end of the evening, enough money was raised to replace the dilapidated mud-and-stick huts of 25 families in Ganthier with sturdy Food For The Poor homes.

“Each family to receive a Food For The Poor home experiences a rebirth and renewed hope in the future,” said Mahfood.

In Haiti, Food For The Poor builds two-room, concrete block homes, with zinc roofs, locking doors, and a front porch. The homes also include access to clean water, solar-power technology, and a bathroom with a flush toilet and shower stall.

Dwight and Lisa Saathoff were honored as the 2013 Ambassadors For The Poor for their continued commitment to build critically-needed houses for families. Their passion to help the destitute also has had a profound impact on their son Patrick, 16. Last summer he chose to travel on a mission trip with Food For The Poor instead of vacationing in Hawaii. 

To make a donation to the house-building initiative, please call 888-404-4248 or visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/orlando.

The gala’s presenting sponsor was Rosen Shingle Creek and Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Gala sponsors included Almar Travel, Greenburg Trauig, Jallad Family Insurance, Marriott Spirit to Serve in Central Florida, Newsome Melton LLP, Pan American Grain, and S1-Safety 1st Drug Testing.

Dr. Nasrallah is A Celebration of Hope gala Chairwoman, and executive committee members include Anibal and Maritza Beltran, Jason Gingras, Cynthia Hawkins, Rebecca James, Marie Morales Johnson, Dr. Anis Khalaf, Kathy Kinchla, Brad Levine, Bernadette McComb, Paul Mylod, and Ryan Shaughnessy. Additional committee members include Linda Bonnewitz, The del Campo Family, Janice Chong, Trevor and Freda Dieffenthaller, Jackie Heaps, Patty Holland, Donna Larson, Laura McDonald, Dr. Desirae Nasrallah, Nicole Nasrallah, Robin Neel, Lisa Padilla, Nancy Padilla, Patricia Perfito, Anne Pinkosh, Amira Rodriguez, The Saint-Fort Family, The Santana Family, Marie Schwarz, Kelly Wilkes, Holly Wilson, and Jean and Donna Wilson.

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 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

Jennifer Leigh Oates

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