Nativity Parish Continues to Fulfill a Legacy of Love for the Poor

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 10, 2016)  Father Robert C. Cilinski, Pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Burke, Virginia, visited the Food For The Poor headquarters in Coconut Creek, Florida, last week to hand-deliver a check to the Charity's CEO/President Robin Mahfood for the proceeds from the parish's annual Operation Starfish® campaign.

Food For The Poor's staff gave a standing ovation to thank Nativity parishioners for the sacrifices they made to change the lives of destitute families in Haiti. Since its inception in 1998, Operation Starfish® has provided more than 1,400 needy families with new homes.

"For the past 18 years, the Church of the Nativity and its parishioners have set an example on what it means to be generous and help the weakest and poorest among us," said Mahfood, who was humbled by the continued outpouring of support from Nativity.

"The Nativity parish continues to be a blessing to the poor," said Mahfood. "This gift will provide many, many more homes and will continue to transform the lives of the poor and bring them closer to God. On behalf of myself and the staff of Food For The Poor, we thank you from the bottom of all our hearts."

This past October, Fr. Cilinski led a group of church members to Haiti with Food For The Poor to visit the many villages generous Nativity parishioners have helped to build. On that visit, Fr. Cilinski made a special promise to the community of Grand Boulage, Haiti.

"I promised the Haitian people that Nativity would stay with them until everyone had a new home." Fr. Cilinski said. "Today, I am pleased to present a gift that will fulfill the promise I made on a hillside in Haiti several months ago."

The donation includes funds to complete Good Shepherd Village near Grand Boulage, Haiti. The village will contain 120 homes, solar-powered lighting, a community center, agriculture projects, a 120-stall covered market, a health clinic and a primary school. The residents will receive life-skills training to ensure they are able to take advantage of all the programs offered.

This village is the tenth built by Nativity, and is named in memory of Fr. Richard Martin, who worked with the charity for 16 years through Operation Starfish® and unexpectedly passed away in May 2014 at the age of 74.

This July, 15 college students from Nativity's youth ministry will travel to Haiti to visit Good Shepherd Village and experience Fr. Martin's legacy firsthand.

"Fr. Martin planted the seed of love for the poor in our parish that just continues to grow," said Fr. Cilinski. "With this tangible expression, Fr. Martin's legacy will continue to show mercy and transform the lives of the weakest and poorest among us."

Food For The Poor's Operation Starfish® program has five arms of aid to transform the living conditions of destitute families. These programs include food, water, housing, education and micro-enterprise opportunities.

Those interested in starting an Operation Starfish® program at their parish, school or organization can visit or call 877-654-2960, ext. 6213. Parishes nationwide also participate in Operation Starfish® programs during Lent, vacation Bible study sessions, Christmas in July celebrations, back-to-school fundraisers, and in preparation for Advent.

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations 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

Lauren Anton

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6901