Stephanie’s Footsteps Lead to New School in Jamaica
When Lenny and Lin Crispinelli travel to Jamaica to build a school with Food For The Poor this month, it will be a bittersweet journey to honor their daughter and to serve children such as the ones who captured her heart and energized her passion.
Stephanie Crispinelli, a Lynn University student, died in the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti while on a mission trip with Food For The Poor. Her parents, full of the anguish of such a great loss, decided the best thing they could do would be to pour out their hearts to continue Stephanie’s work and honor her memory.
“I feel like Stephanie is pushing us along,” said Lin Crispinelli, Stephanie’s mother. “We’re going down there to try to change the lives of some children who changed her life. Stephanie told us, ‘I went down there to help them, and they helped me.’”
“Steph’s Place” will be built in Clarendon, Jamaica, where Stephanie first traveled with FFP, and will serve 100 students from three communities. The current structure is an unfinished church building with limited access to bathrooms and no kitchen. Staff who assessed the site noted that it is a difficult and potentially unsafe environment, which makes it hard for children to concentrate. This area of Jamaica was hit hard by Hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Dean in 2007, leaving it with a higher unemployment rate and weakened economy.
“This new school will be a blessing to the children and to the community,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “Stephanie’s love for Jamaica and for the people will be demonstrated every day through simple things like a clean classroom and hot meals, and by the long-term promise that education holds for these children.”
Twenty-eight people – family members and close friends – will travel to Jamaica and actually build the school. Along the way, they will travel to see the places Stephanie saw and experience the things she felt when she was there. The group, whose ages range from 12 to 75, will visit the Jerusalem Home for Handicapped Children, and play soccer with the residents of the Alpha Boys Home.
“We’ll be retracing her steps, both physically and emotionally,” said Lin Crispinelli. “We want to get in touch with the same feelings Stephanie was experiencing when she was there. I think this trip will change all our lives, and give us a better understanding of Stephanie and how this changed her life.”
Her parents know one thing for sure — Stephanie already has changed for the better the lives of many. “So many people have come forward to say how she touched their lives, so many people we didn’t even know about,” said Lenny Crispinelli, her father.
Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency 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.
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