NJ Snowbird Celebrates Milestone in Haiti
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 26, 2015) – A week before Anthony ‘Tony’ Pestritto celebrated his 89th birthday, he traveled to Haiti with Food For The Poor to fulfill a promise he made to students at last fall’s inauguration of Grand Boulage School.
“The kids are enthused and excited about learning,” said Pestritto, a resident of Sea Isle, New Jersey, and Boca Raton, Florida. “I want them to compete and be geniuses, with God’s help. I would do anything to help them.”
Accompanied by his daughter, Carol, and son-in-law Larry Wuethrich, Pestritto presented certificates and monetary rewards to the 53 highest-achieving students, in recognition of their hard work. The students ranged in age from kindergarten to ninth grade, as well as some older students who were attending school for the first time.
The students greeted Pestritto with broad smiles, and signs of thanks. The school year ended on a high note, as the students sang happy birthday in English to Pestritto, a longtime Food For The Poor donor, before savoring the rare treat of birthday cake. Fourteen brightly iced birthday cakes were prepared to ensure there was enough cake for the approximately 700 students.
Pestritto, who grew up baking old-style, authentic, Sicilian bread in South Jersey at the family’s bakery, recognizes that education is a key ingredient to escaping a life of poverty.
“The promise he made to come back and recognize the highest achievers was fulfilled,” said Sandra Caskey, a Food For The Poor staff member who traveled with Pestritto to Haiti. “His presence and gifts made a high impact on the residents of the community. They were amazed and grateful.”
In a country where more than half of the population lives under the national poverty line of $2.44 a day, the monetary incentives offered by Pestritto were enticing. During the ceremony, Pestritto reemphasized that the keys to achieving dreams are will, effort and determination.
“I think we made the village millionaires for the day,” said Pestritto, who has paid for his nine grandchildren to attend college.
“Tony Pestritto, through his actions and generosity, has invigorated students at Grand Boulage School,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor Executive Director. “Tony’s gift of presence has marked many milestones in their lives – from receiving a new school, to tasting their first bite of cake, to being acknowledged for achieving excellence. As a result, the students are eager for the next school year to start.”
Before Pestritto helped build Grand Boulage School, classes for the approximately 700 students were conducted in a dilapidated building that lacked furniture and only had one latrine.
After the group left Grand Boulage School, they traveled to an agricultural project in the community of La Rochiquite, in Hinche, Haiti, to meet farmers Pestritto has invested in to help them become sustainable.
Larry Wuethrich, who used to farm hundreds of acres on his family’s farm in Francisville, Indiana, shared some advice with the farmers in Haiti, who were open to learning new techniques.
This was a timely morale boost to the farmers, who shared how heavy rains recently damaged their tomato and pepper crops. Fields of corn and peanut plants had already been replanted and blessed.
Pestritto also brought home about 30 bottles of honey from the bee farming project that he also invested in with Food For The Poor in Central Plateau, Haiti.
“When we bring the honey home, my family goes crazy for it,” said Pestritto, who uses the honey in his morning cereal.
To help expand Grand Boulage School, please make a donation online at www.FoodForThePoor.org/gbs.
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.
Jennifer Leigh Oates
954-427-2222 x 6054