Rockford Residents Journey to Haiti to Inaugurate Villages and Spread Hope

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (July 6, 2015) – Residents from the Rockford/Chicago, Illinois area traveled to Haiti, June 8-11 with Food For The Poor, to inaugurate two villages. Pope Francis Friendship Village in Dumas, Haiti, was the first village for the group to inaugurate. It was partially built with proceeds from the Hope for Haitians Board and Food For The Poor 2014 An Evening in the Tropics gala.

"We have the ability to change the world, and this is a world we can change,” said William Clancy, a Hope for Haitians Board member, during the mission trip to Haiti. "We can look at a video and see something on TV, but when you immerse yourself in something it becomes an indelible part of your life. I feel so blessed because God gave me the ability to do for the people of Haiti what they cannot do for themselves. When we are close to the people of Haiti, we are closest to Jesus."

Families living in the Pope Francis Friendship Village lined the main street playing marching band instruments and waving tree branches to greet the visitors, while others paraded leashed pigs and goats from the community’s animal husbandry project. Baskets of pineapples were given to the travelers as a symbol of the residents’ appreciation as they entered the new community center, and the Rev. Tim Seigel was invited to co-preside over the prayer service.

Money raised by the Hope for Haitians Board has built permanent Food For The Poor homes for 50 families in the Pope Francis Friendship Village, complete with kitchenettes, sanitation, access to water, and solar-powered lanterns.

Additionally, the community center and cassava bakery are bustling places, as they are available to more than 1,500 residents who reside in the area. The Association For The Development of Dumas (ADD) also has started to assist farmers in marketing and selling products produced at the cassava facility. Some of the travelers ate pieces of the final cassava product from a street vendor that had been infused with cinnamon and coconut.

“So many of the faithful gave up more than chocolate this past Lent,” said Tom Lorden, a Founding Trustee of the Hope for Haitians Board of Directors. More than half of the funds used to help reach the group’s ambitious goal were donated through church Lenten collections in Northern Illinois.

"To me, it reinforces that God is here,” said Tom Lorden. “God is real. When I see the looks on their faces and they're so grateful, it reinforces that it's real, and I love to experience that."

Thanks to the generosity of anonymous donors, Christ the King Village in Via, Haiti, was inaugurated to provide 40 families with permanent, concrete homes on June 10. The residents waved signs of thanks, and tree branches high above their heads to welcome the travelers to the village inauguration. Music, flower petals, and laughter filled the air during the official ribbon cutting ceremony.    

"To think we have the potential to change their lives so that these children are growing up in a healthy environment; it is a beautiful experience," said Gregory McQueary, a Hope for Haitians Board member.

Travelers on the June trip to Haiti included Errol and Christine “Rosemary” Baptist (Rockford), William Clancy (Geneva, Ill.), Margaret Clancy (River Forest, Ill.), the Rev. Martins Chizobam Charles Emeh (Geneva), Kelly Kolodzik (Rockford), Kari Lantz (Rockford), Maureen Lorden (Chicago), Tom Lorden (Rockford), Gregory McQueary (Rockford), Kristen Marron (Chicago), Robert Pfundstein (Rockford), the Rev. Tim Seigel (Elburn, Ill.), and Tammee Thompson (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

The Hope for Haitians Board and Food For The Poor invite you to attend the 14th annual An Evening in the Tropics, Saturday, Aug. 22 at Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention, 610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford, Illinois. For additional information about sponsorship opportunities and tickets, please call 1-888-404-4248 or visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/rockford.

This year’s fundraising goal is to expand the Pope Francis Friendship Village by building homes for 40 more families and to install a solar-powered water filtration unit. The filtration unit can purify and chlorinate up to 10,000 gallons of water per day.

Founding Trustees of the Hope for Haitians Board of Directors include: Patrick Bachrodt, Tom Lordan and Peter Roche. Additional members include: the Rev. David Beauvais, Virginia Canavan, William Clancy, Patti Cottrell, Bill Derry, Michael Delany, Michael Gallagher, William Kalma, Justin and Theresa Kegley, Danny Lorden, Nancy Lorden, Robert McLaughlin, Gregory McQueary, Philip Nicolosi, Andrew Schultheis and the Rev. Geoffrey 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.

Jennifer Leigh Oates

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054
jennifero@foodforthepoor.com