“Greater Purpose” Keeps Chicago Couple Helping Haiti
COCONUT CREEK, Fla.(Oct. 1, 2015) — When Andy and Florette Sokulski decided to serve the poor in Haiti to honor the memory of their daughter, neither one of them dreamed that 10 years later their mission to help would be stronger than ever.
“The bottom line is that Julie’s soul had a greater purpose, and it took me a long time to see that,” said Florette Sokulski. “I remember standing at the foot of the cross, and asking, ‘are You sure You want me to do this?’ I don’t understand it, but I leave it up to God.”
For 10 years, the Sokulski family has encouraged others to help raise money in memory of their daughter, Julie Sokulski Hesser. Andy and Florette Sokulski have traveled with Food For The Poor several times, and went earlier this year to see how donations from the recent “Dreams Past and Present” will help modernize the Bernard Mevs Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Money from this year’s event will equip the new recovery room. Scheduled surgeries constantly are being reprioritized, because there are not enough recovery beds to accommodate the growing need. The twin doctors who run the hospital, Drs. Jerry and Marlon Bitar, traveled from Haiti to attend the dinner.
About two-thirds of the goal was raised at the event, and organizers said donations are still coming in from those touched by the need. This hospital project is the latest of many that have upgraded conditions at the hospital.
“Food For The Poor and the doctors and the staff at Bernard Mevs sincerely appreciate the Sokulskis’ desire to bring hope and life to so many others in their daughter’s name,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor Executive Director.
When the Sokulskis lost their daughter at the age of 32, they were inspired to help others by Julie’s strength, faith and courage during her final days. They began raising money for Haiti in 2006 with Father Medard Laz and members of the Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Ill.
“We never thought it would last this long, but it continues to have momentum,” Andy Sokulski said. “The people who come trust us and they trust Food For The Poor because they see the money is put to good use. Each year, it is so gratifying to see people show up and give their support.”
Fr. Laz, who traveled with the couple to Haiti to visit completed projects and see the needs at the hospital, reported that he saw a lot of progress.
“It is truly great to see how people are helping themselves,” he said. “Offering a hand up rather than a hand out is really the key.”
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as 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 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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