Loss of a Child Inspires Legacy of Hope in Haiti

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Remembering how Julie could not even swallow water at the end of her life, her parents wanted proceeds from a past benefit dinner to provide clean water to children in Haiti.
(L to R) Food For The Poor President/CEO Robin Mahfood, Paul O'Connor, Florette Sokulski. Remembering how Julie could not even swallow water at the end of her life, her parents wanted proceeds from a past benefit dinner to provide clean water to children in Haiti.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2014) — A Chicago couple committed to preserving the memory of their late daughter is encouraging others to help raise money to improve the lives of the destitute through Food For The Poor.

The ninth annual benefit dinner established to celebrate the life of Julie Sokulski Hesser will be Wednesday, Sept. 10 at The Seville Banquet Hall, 700 S. Barrington Road, Streamwood, Illinois.  Proceeds from this year’s event will be used to cover the monthly operating costs of Bernard Mevs Clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“Julie was resilient, and she was tough – like the Haitian people,” said Florette Sokulski, outside the pastel orange and green Haiti hospital in 2012. “Even in her worst, painful days, and those lasted about seven years, she would always say, ‘I just want to help somebody.’ And now I see how she is helping.”

When Andy and Florette lost their beloved daughter at the age of 32, they were inspired to help others by Julie’s strength, faith and courage during her final days. They began raising money in 2006 with Father Medard Laz and members of the Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Illinois, to create a living legacy in honor of their daughter through Food For The Poor projects.

Since 2011, proceeds from the fundraiser in Streamwood have been used to modernize the Haiti hospital by building operating and recovery rooms, and purchasing new equipment.

“This is the best we have now in Haiti,” said Dr. Jerry Bitar to Julie’s parents. “I want to say first thank you for what you do. Not for us but for the poor people in Haiti.”

The Bernard Mevs Clinic’s Pediatric Care Center provides the desperately poor with quality outpatient services, emergency treatment, laboratory diagnostic services, surgical procedures, medications, and long-term chronic disease management. The clinic also offers services and resources that promote prevention and wellness care among women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Through educational awareness programs, the hospital makes heathier lifestyles available to patients and the community at large.

“By serving the poorest of the poor, they are saving lives,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. “The poor need all types of surgeries, and if it weren’t for the doctors and the staff at the Brevard Mevs Hospital they would be sentenced to simply die at home. They cannot afford to go to a private hospital or to pay anything at all. So they come here with full assurance that they are getting superior quality medical treatment.”

Aloma is the evening’s keynote speaker. Master of ceremonies for this year’s benefit dinner is former WGN Radio newsman Lyle Dean. The evening also will feature a silent auction and dinner with friends and members of the surrounding communities. Bidding on silent auction prizes will offer opportunities for guests to shop and support the cause.

For additional information about sponsorship opportunities and tickets, please call 888-404-4248 or email carolc@foodforthepoor.com.

“The loss of a child is written in the heart in indelible ink,” said Aloma. “But by doing something like this, it brings new life into the world. It really honors the person who has gone to the Lord, and it really gives comfort to the parents to know that their loved one’s passing has brought hope and life to so many others in her name.”

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 Associate
954-427-2222 x 6054
jennifero@foodforthepoor.com