Food For The Poor Names Beloved Virginia Priest a Servant of the Poor

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Unveiling of Fr. Martin's plaque.
(L to r) Fr. Richard “Dick” Martin’s younger brother, Jack, together with Food For The Poor President/CEO Robin Mahfood unveiled a plaque today in Food For The Poor's lobby to commemorate Fr. Martin’s dedicated service to the poor.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2014) – Food For The Poor President/CEO Robin Mahfood unveiled a plaque today in the lobby of the charity’s Coconut Creek headquarters, to commemorate Fr. Richard "Dick" Martin’s dedicated service to the poor.

“Fr. Martin had a real love for people, and he exemplified Christ’s love everywhere he went,” Mahfood said. “He was a tremendous pastor. His genuine love energized his parishioners to year-after-year think beyond themselves, to create miracles for Haiti’s poor.”

The title Servant of the Poor was bestowed on Fr. Martin, from Church of the Nativity in Burke, Virginia, who worked with the charity for 16 years through Operation Starfish.
Fr. Martin’s younger brother, Jack and wife Patti attended the ceremony alongside Fr. Martin’s nephew Eric, his wife, Nicole, and their baby, Grayson.

“His gift of charity was acquired from my dad, but he was able to take it another step with Operation Starfish in Haiti, as well as the many other projects he undertook in his work with the poor,” said Jack who was moved to tears as he reminisced about his older brother.

“I remember getting off the plane in Port-au-Prince and being overwhelmed by the crowds of people,” said Jack, who journeyed to Haiti with his brother, more than seven years ago. “We went to Cap-Haitien to visit different villages and to bless the fishing boats that were named in honor of my mom, dad, Dick, Madeleine and myself. I also saw that Dick was definitely at home in Haiti.”

Fr. Martin is the fifth Servant of the Poor to be named by Food For The Poor. The original four honorees were memorialized at Food For The Poor’s 25th Anniversary celebration in January 2007. Recognized for their contributions to serve and enrich the lives of the poor, the honorees include Sister Mary Benedict Chung, R.S.M., of Jamaica; Father Louis Grenier, S.J., of Jamaica; Father José Antonio Márquez Pavón, O.F.M. Cap., of Spain and formerly Guatemala; and Ferdinand G. Mahfood, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

At a celebration of life service for Fr. Martin in June, Mahfood received a check from Church of the Nativity parishioners in memory of Fr. Martin, and the proceeds from their 2014 Operation Starfish Lenten campaign, to build an entire village near Grand Boulage, Haiti. The Good Shepherd Village will be the 10th village built by Nativity parishioners in the last 16 years.

Fr. Martin’s legacy already has given new life to the first 20 families who have received keys to their new Food For The Poor homes in The Good Shepherd Village. The village will be built out over the course of three years, and will combine the latest technology, construction development programs, and community development programs. The village ultimately will contain 120 houses, solar lighting, a community center, a health clinic, agriculture projects, and a kindergarten. The residents will receive life-skills training to ensure that they can take best advantage of all the programs offered.

Fr. Martin, who died in May at the age of 74, had traveled to Haiti many times with Food For The Poor, and helped thousands of Haitians have a better life.

A quote from Fr. Martin on his Servant of the Poor plaque reads, “We go across the street and around the world to bring God’s love to all we meet. This is the power of our parish. We feed the poor, they feed us back; and with renewed strength, we go out and evangelize, not with words, but with our presence.”

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