Promises Made, Prayers Answered: Orlando Supporters Transform Communities in Haiti with Annual Gala

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2018) Orlando-area donors have committed to transforming lives of some of the poorest families in Haiti for nearly two decades. These dedicated philanthropists once again will deliver lifesaving aid for 30 destitute families in Duthil, Thomazeau, Haiti, at Food For The Poor's 19th Annual Celebration of Hope Gala at the Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando this Saturday.

Duthil is a small community of about 2,000 people that's located some 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince, where sadly more than 80 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

Proceeds from the gala will provide these families with safe homes, access to clean water, sanitation and solar-powered light kits.

"Life is hard in many parts of Haiti, but it's nearly unbearable in these rural communities," Food For The Poor President/CEO Robin Mahfood said. "Thanks to the generous support of Orlando-area donors, hundreds of families have received a home and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty."

Harris Rosen, President/COO of the Rosen Hotels & Resorts, who has nine properties in Orlando, including Rosen Shingle Creek, will receive the Ambassadors For The Poor Award. Mahfood, Food For The Poor President/CEO will present Rosen with this award for the countless ways he and his foundation have changed the lives of some of the poorest of the poor in Haiti.

In preparation for the event, Orlando Gala Committee Chair Dr. Lynne Nasrallah returned to Haiti on Sept. 10 to inaugurate the 47 homes built in Jaboin/Chantal with the money raised at last year's gala. In addition, 30 homes and a community center were bequeathed by Fr. John McCormick, a beloved rector of St. James Cathedral in Orlando, who died Sept. 19, 2016.

These homes were constructed for the families whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 4, 2016.

"The name of your new community is Emmanuel Village, which means God is with us, and it is to remind you that God never abandons you," Nasrallah said. "God was with you before the hurricane, God was with you during the hurricane and God is with you after the storm. God never leaves us in our happy moments and in our sad moments."

Pierre and Simone, an elderly couple, and their daughter, Florencia, were living in desperate conditions after Hurricane Matthew. The storm claimed the life of Florencia's 8-month-old baby girl who died when pieces of the house collapsed on her before destroying everything they owned.

Today, the family has found comfort in their faith and has deep gratitude to Orlando-area donors for their new home.

"I feel like I am in paradise because I've come a long way," Pierre said. "Now when I go to bed I can sleep, I am well and I am happy."

"I thank you, I thank you and I thank you because you've done good work for me and for the people in this community," Simone said.

Over the shouts of jubilation of her parents, Florencia stands stoic, then said calmly to Nasrallah, "I have no words for how to say thank you for all that you've done for me and my family. Only God can give back to you what you have done for us."

The 19th Annual Celebration of Hope Gala will begin with a cocktail reception starting at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m. For additional information please call (954) 427-2222, ext. 4020 or visit Tickets are available at $175 per person.

Since its inception, the Celebration of Hope Gala has built 858 homes, providing thousands of people with a safe and secure place to live. The Food For The Poor homes in Haiti are constructed on cement foundations with concrete block walls and are covered with a galvanized zinc roofs.

"Without the donors, I would not be able to do anything and Food For The Poor would not be able to do anything; we are very thankful for our donors," Nasrallah said.

Committee members include: Event Chair Dr. Lynne Nasrallah, Linda Bonnewitz, Paula and Bruny Compas, Kim and George del Campo, Viviana and Jacob del Campo, Nicole and Ben del Campo, Tammie Ferguson, Cynthia Hawkins, Kathy Kinchla, Dr. Anis Khalaf, Luz and Yani Jusakos, Bernadette McComb, Nicole Nasrallah, Nancy Padilla, Dr. Tim Prince and Robin Neel, Amira and Dacks Rodriguez, Lisa and Dwight Saathoff Liliane, Santana and Family, Donna and Jean Wilson, and Holly Wilson.

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 primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit

Wanda Wright

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6079