Haiti Experience Re-energizes Rockford Residents

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At Food For The Poor's Feeding Center in Port-au-Prince, (L to R) Edith Ayala, Virginia Canavan and Karen Dix helped to serve hot meals to the destitute.
At Food For The Poor's Feeding Center in Port-au-Prince, (L to R) Edith Ayala, Virginia Canavan and Karen Dix helped to serve hot meals to the destitute.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 19, 2013) – Twelve residents from the Rockford/Chicago area traveled to Haiti June 11-13 with Food For The Poor to learn how proceeds from An Evening in the Tropics gala moved destitute families from dangerous conditions into a life of security and opportunity.

“This was my fifth visit to Haiti and each time, as I return home, I feel renewed,” said Tom Lorden, Event Co-Chairman. “We are making a tremendous difference in the lives of many destitute people. But, I feel we also receive a special touch from God. A feeling that He is pleased with what we are doing.” 

During the trip, the group inaugurated phase one of Love Friendship Village in Savanne Carre, Terrier Rouge, Haiti. Homes for 40 families with solar-powered lights and access to water and sanitation were built with proceeds from last year’s gala. Additionally, each family received two goats and fruit-bearing trees to help improve the village’s access to proper nutrition.

“Our arrival at Love Friendship Village was like something out of a movie,” said Karen Dix, as she described the marching band and dancers that welcomed them to the village for the inauguration. “A darling little girl grabbed my hand and we walked quickly toward the village, avoiding cow pies and rocks along the way. The hot sun beat down on me, but I felt nothing but exuberance. For a moment in time, I felt we were all a part of something bigger than ourselves, compelled by the love of Christ to be there.”

In addition to the village inauguration, the group also visited Shada, near Cap-Haitien. In the garbage-filled landscape of Shada, the group spotted a dust-covered, barefoot boy with a bloated belly, a common symptom of malnutrition. He ran alongside a tire he rolled with a stick, maneuvering through the debris.

“Being an eyewitness to the poverty and the transformation that our villages provide the Haitian people was remarkable,” said Virginia Canavan, an event committee member.

The deplorable living conditions in Shada were a stark contrast to the new Food For The Poor village.

“It was an incredible and eye-opening experience,” said Reverend Robert W. Jones. “We experienced so much in just a few short days. It made me very grateful for my life and inspired me to want to do more for the larger Body of Christ. Overall, I am very impressed by the people of Haiti. They have a very resilient spirit in the midst of some of their extreme conditions. We are fortunate to be able to offer them our assistance and I am inspired to spread the word to others so that we can do more.”

The crude shacks, naked children, and sad-eyed mothers reminded the group how many lives in Haiti depend on the success of the upcoming An Evening in the Tropics gala, Saturday, Aug. 24, at Giovanni’s restaurant in Rockford, Ill. The Hope for Haitians Committee and Food For The Poor will host their 12th annual fundraising event with proceeds to complete the second phase of Love Friendship Village.

According to surveys by the Haitian government’s National Coordination of Food Security, approximately 67 percent of the population goes without food on some days.

“Many Haitian people do live in conditions that are truly hellish,” said Reverend Tim Piasecki. “But mostly, I came away with a real sense of hope. The Rockford villages I visited were hope-filled and have great potential. If Christ returns today, I think He will recognize this as the work of the community of His disciples, this blessed effort of the Church.”

An Evening in the Tropics gala will feature a cocktail reception, silent auction, and formal dinner with friends and members of the surrounding communities. Bidding on silent auction prizes such as designer jewelry, vacations, golf and dining packages offer opportunities for guests to shop and donate to the cause.

For additional information regarding the An Evening in the Tropics gala, sponsorship levels, and tickets, please call 1-888-404-4248 or visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/rockford.

Travelers on the June trip to Haiti included Edith Ayala (Montgomery), Jetze Campos (Oswego), Virginia Canavan (Sugar Grove), Bill Clancy (Geneva), Karen Dix (Addison), Rev. Robert Jones (Sugar Grove), Bernard Long (Belvidere), Michael Long (Belvidere), Tom Lorden (Rockford), Mike Moorman (Belvidere), Kayla Moorman (Belvidere), and Rev. Timothy Piasecki (Aurora).

Gala committee members include: Pat Bachrodt, Reverend David Beauvais, Virginia Canavan, Bill Clancy, Patti Cottrell, Michael Delany, Dave Daugherty, Bill Kalma, Danny Lorden, Tom and Nancy Lorden, Bob McLaughlin, Philip Nicolosi, Patti Rangel, Peter Roche, Andy Schultheis, and Reverend Geoff Wirth.

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


Jennifer Leigh Oates

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