FFTP Celebrates 40th Anniversary with a Tribute to Founders, Recognition Awards to Those Integral to Its Mission
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2022) Food For The Poor commemorates its 40th anniversary today with a tribute to its founders and heartfelt presentations to individuals who have been an integral part of the organization’s history.
Presented online to FFTP team members and donors, the Founders Day celebration comes as the organization continues its longstanding mission to provide relief in the Caribbean and Latin America – including the ongoing delivery of vital supplies to Haiti six months after a violent 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook its southern peninsula.
“We have been blessed by God’s grace over the last 40 years, and we give thanks to God for all that is good,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “The fact that we are here 40 years after our founding means that there is still much work to do, and so we prepare ourselves to continue the legacy of our founders and do what we can to continue to lift those in greatest need out of poverty – both materially and in spirit.”
With the love and support of his family, Ferdinand “Ferdy” Mahfood established FFTP in Florida on February 12, 1982. The organization initially sent resources to his homeland of Jamaica, where he witnessed firsthand the plight of people suffering from poverty, disease and the impact of natural disasters.
As the charity expanded, Ferdy and his wife, Patti, traveled throughout the Caribbean, bringing resources to countless people in need. FFTP officially launched its operation in Jamaica in June 1983 and created a model that the organization would later replicate in other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America.
Ferdy’s brother Robin Mahfood, who was among the organization’s original founders, became President/CEO in 2000 and led FFTP through a remarkable period of growth for nearly two decades. Raine became President/CEO upon Robin Mahfood’s retirement in 2020. Confronted with the immediate onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Raine ushered FFTP into a new age of virtual and video communication to ensure team member safety and create new opportunities to communicate with supporters.
Under his leadership, the organization continues to provide aid in the Caribbean and Latin America, while assisting communities in the United States struggling with the pandemic and natural disasters.
The Founders Day festivities included a presentation of the Founders Cornerstone Award to Sister Mary Benedict Chung, RSM, of Jamaica, and recent FFTP retirees Fred Khouri, former Executive Vice President of Infrastructure and Risk Management, and Artie Gold, former Shipping and Warehouse Director. The award recognizes individuals who helped build FFTP and shape it into the organization that it is today.
For Khouri, being part of FFTP was more than a job – it was a mission to serve.
“It was a pleasure to see Food For The Poor grow over the years into what it has become today,” said Khouri, who retired after more than 36 years at FFTP. “And hopefully what it will become tomorrow – over the next 40 years.”
Gold, who also worked at FFTP for more than 36 years, was instrumental in building the FFTP shipping, warehouse and logistics programs into a highly regarded system capable of sending tens of thousands of containers of food and supplies throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Gold estimated that he helped the organization ship more than 80,000 containers during his tenure. What began for Gold as a part-time job became a soul-stirring commitment to an organization that has helped millions of people over the past four decades.
“It’s overwhelming when you think about it,” Gold said, adding, “I will always treasure this award and my days at Food For The Poor. Although, I’m not part of Food For the Poor anymore, Food For The Poor will always be part of me.”
A former chairman of the board for FFTP-Jamaica, Sister Benedict, affectionately known as “Sister B,” was part of the FFTP family from the very beginning, offering her counsel and support through the years, Raine said.
“You have really understood that it’s not just about giving people sustenance for the day,” he said. “It’s actually helping them to lift themselves out of poverty.”
Sister Benedict, a co-founder of Laws Street Trade Training Centre in Jamaica, praised FFTP and its founders and thanked the organization’s donors for their support.
“Even today, down here at the center, when we distribute food packages every other week to about 600 people, something from Food For The Poor is in that package,” she said. “So, we continue to say, ‘Thanks,’ and ‘Thank God for Ferdy and Robin, and may they reap a wonderful, big reward when they get to heaven.'”
In addition to the Founders Cornerstone Award, Raine presented the Spirit of the Founders Award to nine retired team members who devoted themselves to continuing the charity’s legacy of service. Recipients include Cris Greene, Export Specialist; Joan Vidal, Speakers Bureau Manager; Michael Taylor, Warehouse Manager; Monica Taylor, Donor Gift Processing Manager; Nan Levy, Estate Settlement Manager; Pauline Kane, Human Resources Director; Tony Joseph, Purchasing Director; Vanessa Tirado, Production Director; and Winston Barrett, Shipping and Warehouse Driver.
The online celebration also included music and moving images of the people that FFTP has helped over the last four decades, a virtual tour of the new Founders Conference Room showcasing photos of the Mahfood family, and a remembrance of co-founder Joe Mahfood, who passed away in Jamaica last April.
In addition, Linda Coello, founder of CEPUDO and a longstanding partner of FFTP in Honduras, offered a heartfelt message of gratitude and love. She recalled a defining moment in the partnership when she took Robin Mahfood and FFTP missionaries to see a garbage dump where impoverished people were foraging for food discarded by fast-food restaurants.
“I think that was what moved Robin to know that we knew where the poverty was and that we could help our neighbors,” she said, later adding, “When I think about love, I think about people that are suffering. Please love each other and please (continue to) love the poorest of the poor.”
FFTP is one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation devoted to transforming the lives of those living in poverty in the Caribbean and Latin America. Milestones over the years include:
1985: Built its first home for an impoverished family in Jamaica.
1992: Drilled its first water well in Haiti.
1995: Built its first school, the Ti Aiyti School in Cite Soleil, Haiti.
1996: Began serving in Central America.
2000: Established the first fishing village in Old Pera, Jamaica.
2009: Established agriculture, aquaculture and education programs.
2010: Provided aid and began rebuilding Haiti after a devastating earthquake.
2017: Celebrated the building and renovation of 100 schools in Jamaica.
2019: Began serving in Colombia and Venezuela.
2020: Sent more than 150 containers of disaster aid to Honduras and then later to other countries in the path of back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes that swept through Central America.
2021: Unveiled a new broadcast studio and a new logo; responded to a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Haiti’s southern peninsula; and established a new volunteer program.
Throughout its 40-year history, FFTP has been a source of help for the countries it serves, thanks to the dedicated donors who embrace its mission. The organization has built more than 92,000 homes, completed 2,965 water projects, and sent more than 96,000 containers of food and other essential goods to impoverished children and families. FFTP has delivered more than $17.4 billion in aid since its inception.
Raine thanked the organization’s legions of donors and team members for their support.
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to staying the course – no less committed to our purpose and mission and hopeful that more can be done to ease the suffering of so many,” Raine said. “So, thank you to all of you who have come together to help the Food For The Poor family serve and love our neighbors. Thank you for your commitment and your dedication.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty 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 vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.