2010-01-28 / Front Page

Group Raising Funds For Quake-Stricken Haiti

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER
While the Haitian community rallies to regain a sense of normalcy following a series of earthshattering quakes and aftershocks, local efforts are under way that will address both Haiti’s immediate and long-term needs ranging from the basic necessities of food and water to rebuilding efforts for schools, homes and churches.

A Haitian observes the damage to the two-story home of Pastor Villejeune, who is affiliated with Faith Mission Inc. The first-floor of Pastor Villejeune’s two-story home collapsed into ruins during the January 12 earthquake leaving his gardener with fatal wounds. A Haitian observes the damage to the two-story home of Pastor Villejeune, who is affiliated with Faith Mission Inc. The first-floor of Pastor Villejeune’s two-story home collapsed into ruins during the January 12 earthquake leaving his gardener with fatal wounds. With local ties, Faith Mission Inc. is just one of numerous organizations and groups reaching out to render aid to the small country that has an estimated death toll of 200,000, in addition to at least 2 million homeless individuals.

A tax-exempt corporation, Faith Mission has been in operation since the late 1940s when Esther Rocourt and her Haitianborn husband, Robert, decided to offer discipleship in the rugged region of western Haiti. Decades later, Faith Mission’s board of directors is still collecting voluntary contributions from a variety of sources such as individuals, churches, Sunday school classes, youth groups, Christian Missionary Societies to provide the necessary financial support to Haiti.

Nearly 2 million individuals are currently homeless in Haiti, with many sleeping under the stars, following the series of earthquakes and aftershocks that rocked the country earlier this month. Nearly 2 million individuals are currently homeless in Haiti, with many sleeping under the stars, following the series of earthquakes and aftershocks that rocked the country earlier this month. According to organization secretary Jeremy Hollinshead of McConnellsburg, Faith Mission does not have an on-site mission and thereby limits administrative expenses to postage, printing and shipping. The final result is more funding sent directly to where it is needed.

Hollinshead stated Faith Mission utilizes a group of Haitian contacts that essentially perform the footwork of determining what projects need immediate attention, whether it be rebuilding a parsonage, a school or even a clinic. The list of projects is then forwarded to Faith Mission’s board of directors, which meets for an annual conference each September and prioritizes the projects for order of completion. Current members of Faith Mission’s board of directors include former countian and President Marlin Hollinshead, Vice President Marlin Lynch and Treasurer Gary Black.

In a typical year, one to three projects are completed. Hollinshead added Faith Mission aids 58 churches with 2,600 members and 3,000 nonmembers, 115 preachers and 13 schools representing more than 3,000 students.

“We’re small, but the work we do is very effective ... It’s a small mission with supporters all over the United States,” said Hollinshead, who noted the Haitian contacts are also urged to attend the annual conference for their noteworthy input. Depending on the location of the conference, Hollinshead, a world cultures teacher at Forbes Road Junior/Senior High School, has asked the Haitian officials to visit with his students in the past and share tales about everyday life in a third-world country.

Pastor Villejeune and Jean (John) Eney have spoken with students. Due to their proximity to the quakes and resulting devastation, students have responded accordingly with questions to Hollinshead about the men’s well-being.

“The kids get a new perspective on the world,” said Hollinshead of the men’s visits. “Kids get a better understanding of geography ... It opens up your eyes to the world. Some kids will get it, and some kids won’t.”

Since the original quake on January 12, Hollinshead said he has spoken with both Villejeune and Eney. Both men had tales to share, including the first-floor of Villejeune’s two-story home collapsing into ruins causing fatal injuries to his gardener.

Meanwhile, Eney witnessed buildings collapse around him while his two sons, ages 14 and 8, were home alone just four miles away from the airport in Port-au-Prince. Hollinshead, 37, stated Eney was able to safely return to his home after wading through a river and found his children awaiting him. The boys had survived after burying themselves beneath a mattress and eventually crawled out of the rubble to safety.

Hollinshead, who has been involved with Faith Mission since 1991 when he was a senior in high school, stated the organization has set up a Haitian Emergency Relief Effort (HERE) to help with the emergency efforts. Their goal, however, remains focused on long-term rebuilding efforts.

The organization has also partnered with Mission of Hope, which has fed nearly 100,000 since the first quake. Mission of Hope is geared toward assisting with more pressing or immediate concerns, stated Hollinshead.

“We would love to see people develop a heart for Haiti and stick with it for the long haul,” Hollinshead concluded.

Residents interested in joining the cause and making an online donation can visit the organizations’ Web sites at www.faithmissioninc.com and www.missionofhopehaiti.org. Faith Mission also accepts donations through the mail at PO Box 161, Needmore, PA 17238.

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