Boca Committee Members Open Their Hearts to Haiti
Rene Mahfood, Ronda Gluck and Allison Venditti are blessed by children at a school in Cite Soleil, Haiti, operated by FFP.
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Nov. 17, 2011) — To kick-start the much anticipated 17th annual Food For The Poor Building Hope Gala, seven committee members from the Boca Raton/Lighthouse Point communities traveled to Haiti Nov. 7-9 with the South Florida-based nonprofit. The committee members traveled as ambassadors to witness first-hand the condition of the people and to learn how the nonprofit continues to improve their lives and living conditions.
“It was a very sad day, but a great experience – a life adjusting experience,” said Rene Mahfood, the event’s Honorary Chairperson after her first day in Haiti. “What we saw today puts everything in perspective. You think about how expensive life is back home and all the things you can’t afford. Then you realize that all those material things don’t matter. None of it matters. All that matters is having a roof over your head, being able to clothe your children and having food to eat.”
The gala will be Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at The Polo Club of Boca Raton. Attendees will be invited to create a legacy by pledging to build critically needed houses during the charity’s live house-rally. For additional information regarding the Building Hope Gala, sponsorship levels, and tickets, available at $225 per person, please call 1-888-404-4248 or visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/boca.
Ronda Gluck laughs with a child whose family just received the keys to their new home in the Journey of Hope village.
“We’re blessed,” said Ronda Gluck, Event Co-Chairperson, after she visited a family in Cité Soleil who will soon receive a new Food For The Poor house. “We have no idea the luxuries we live in, compared to this house. It’s nothing. I feel terrible. These families are blessed to be receiving a home.”
When the committee members arrived in Olivier, Deuxieme Plaine, Haiti, approximately a three- hour drive southwest of Port-au-Prince, they were welcomed by a crowd of nearly 300 residents. The group was greeted with music and palm fronds waving in the air. The students were smartly dressed in their school uniforms, and some of the women in the community held signs of welcome and thanks. While in Haiti, the committee members decided this year’s Building Hope Gala goal would be to raise enough money to construct 100 housing units, a community center, and to initiate an animal husbandry project to include 20 cows for this community.
“I don’t believe these people live in the same world that I do – only a two-hour plane ride away,” said Kara Seelye, an event committee member. “It’s disturbing. You just don’t get it when you’re a Boca housewife. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. The only way we can build more houses for people is by sharing what we’ve seen. More people need to come and see it for themselves.”
Kara Seelye reacts to the living conditions of a family in Cite Soleil, Haiti. The family will soon move into a new concrete block home.
According to the United Nations’ shelter committee the catastrophic 2010 earthquake initially left 1.3 million people in Haiti homeless. Today approximately 600,000 are still without shelter. More than 2,400 two-room permanent homes have been built by Food For The Poor in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.
“It’s important for this committee to experience poverty first hand,” said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor’s President/CEO, who traveled with members of the Boca committee. “To see it, smell it and taste it. Then they know what they are raising money for, and how to do it – to help one family at a time.”
Travelers included Ronda Gluck, Rene Mahfood, Becky Carlsson, Julie Mahfood, Allison Venditti, Traci Wilson, and Kara Seelye.
Additional committee members include Cathy & Abdol Moabery (Event Co-Chairpersons), David Gluck (Event Co-Chairperson), Francis Mahfood (Honorary Chairperson), Ronda Ellis Ged, Michele Greene, Pamela Matsil, Natasha Singh, and Patricia Wallace.
“Since Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake, the need for safe, permanent housing remains tremendous, said Mahfood. “Hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians have been forced to live under tarps and tents for almost two years. As a result of these inhumane living conditions, the spread of disease and waterborne illnesses have thrived, causing even more devastation.”
Kara Seelye leaps across an open sewer in a marshy slum in Cite Soleil, Haiti.
Media master of ceremonies will be, Calvin Hughes, an Emmy Award-winning newscaster for WPLG-TV ABC Local 10 News. For years he has reported how nonprofits such as Food For The Poor continue to strive to improve lives and living conditions throughout the country.
The Building Hope Gala committee has organized a pre-event on Dec. 15, in time for the holiday season. Join the committee for champagne and hors d’oeuvres at Gregory’s Fine Jewelry in Delray Beach’s The Addison Shops to purchase a dazzling piece of jewelry for your loved ones. A portion of the proceeds from sales will be donated to the charity’s gala.
Event sponsors include Gregory’s Fine Jewelry, TD Bank, N.A., Regal Home Health, Haiti Shipping Lines, Seaboard Marine Ltd., Dennis Charley & Associates, American Nicaraguan Foundation, Comerica Bank, Mailing Service of Pittsburg, and Jox Sox.
(L to R) Ronda Gluck, Julie Mahfood, Rene Mahfood, Traci Wilson, Becky Carlsson, Kara Seelye and Allison Venditti.
Food For The Poor, 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 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.
For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
Jennifer Leigh Oates
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6054