South Florida Realtors Help Bahamas Recover from Hurricane Dorian
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2019) For many in Grand Bahama, home means living in shelters or tents, or standing in line for food and water, three months after Hurricane Dorian slammed into the island as a Category 5 storm.
When local Realtors Olive and Brittany Belcher watched news footage of the devastation in the Bahamas a mere 100 miles from South Florida, they knew they had to do something about it.
Olive Belcher, a longtime Food For The Poor donor, said she and her daughter, Brittany, decided to hold a client appreciation event and raise funds for the charity to help families recovering and struggling to rebuild in the Bahamas.
"We have been donating homes to Food For The Poor for many years and we thought since the holidays were right around the corner that maybe people would be willing to open up their hearts," said Olive Belcher.
More than 100 people enjoyed In the Spirit of Giving, an evening of fashion and design on November 20 at Clive Daniel Home in Boca Raton. The event was organized and hosted by The Olive Belcher Team of Lang Realty and Vicki Soble Couture. All proceeds benefitted Food For The Poor's Bahamas relief efforts.
Mary Widmer, founder of the real estate firm Mary Widmer Luxury Collections, generously matched the donations from the evening. "I sell homes so I know how important having a home is. It's life-changing," said Olive Belcher. "It's important to give back because I've been blessed."
Dwayne Reynolds, Food For The Poor's Project Manager for the Bahamas, told guests at the event how the charity is working with Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Baptist churches to meet the long-term needs of Bahamians.
Food For The Poor is also partnering with Mission Resolve Foundation, which has been working closely in an ongoing collaboration with the Bahamian government to determine the critical areas of need in order to serve as a liaison for those looking to assist in the Hurricane Dorian recovery effort.
Reynolds was part of a team from Food For The Poor that traveled to the Bahamas in October and saw the devastation firsthand. He recalled meeting a young man, a member of the Bahamas military who lost everything.
Because the young man was a first responder, he had to leave his wife and children before the storm hit. After Dorian passed, it took him almost a week to get in touch with his family. Until then, he didn't know if they had survived.
"The windows were broken, the house had flooded. You could smell the mold," Reynolds said as he accompanied the young man walking through what remained of his home. "I'm going to make it my point of duty that this gentleman and his family will have the ability to live in a home again."
At least 70 people are dead in the aftermath of Dorian, which stalled over the Abacos and nearby Grand Bahama for more than a day with its 185 mph winds. Many areas are expected to be without power for up to 18 months.
To date, Food For The Poor has shipped 30 tractor-trailer loads of aid to the Bahamas. The first disaster pallets were sent by air freight within days of Dorian's passing and were received by HeadKnowles Foundation, working in conjunction with Sandals Foundation, for distribution.
Food For The Poor Executive Vice President Ed Raine said the Bahamas recovery will take a long time, requiring continued shipments of construction materials like lumber, shingles and drywall to help families rebuild their homes.
"We're grateful to The Olive Belcher Team, our donors and the South Florida community for making a difference in the lives of those suffering in the Bahamas," Raine said. "Food For The Poor is committed to being there every step of the way."
To donate to Bahamas relief, go to www.FoodForThePoor.org/theolivebelcherteam.
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 orphaned or abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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