Did you know that United Way supports over 40 community organizations in the Lewiston/Auburn area?
Did you know that St. Mary’s supports local organizations and our friends in Haiti?
When you give to the Hearts United and United Way campaigns you are touching the lives of many people. You can make a difference on problems you care about as well as those that fall outside the course of your daily life.
Join us as we spotlight some of those organizations and interview individuals whose lives have been touched by one of the groups we support.
This weeks focus is Haiti. Carol Clark, Pharmacy Technician, has been involved with St. Mary’s Haiti Mission since 2003.”
“Carol, what first got you involved with Haiti?”
My connection to Haiti began in 2003 when our family attended a Big Daddy Weave concert here in Maine. This particular concert was a promotional event for Compassion International. That evening my husband Sam and I became sponsors of a beautiful little girl, Paulonne, who lives in the Northern part of Haiti.
A few years later, in April of 2006, I began working here at St. Mary’s. During the new hires’ orientation program, I learned about St. Mary’s mission to the poor, which included outreach right here in central Maine, and also in Haiti. So, now I had a second connection to Haiti, and I remained very interested over the next two years.
In January of 2009, I joined the St. Mary’s Mission Team and spent 10 days in Haiti. This first-hand exposure to the severe poverty as well as the work of the missions bringing such hope — it all had huge impact on me. Our group stayed at St. Boniface Hospital in Fond-des-Blancs, but also visited Pwoje Espwa (Hope Village) in Les Cayes. In the land surrounding this school and orphanage in Les Cayes, massive concrete platforms have been constructed to allow the local farmers to dry their freshly harvested rice in the sun. I remember looking across the millions of grains of rice spread out to dry. It was one of those special moments in life when God downloads a treasure into your heart, and you know you are called and chosen and empowered. In response, I reached out and picked up one little rice grain, one seed. I had an overwhelming sense that what I was to bring home from this trip to Haiti was like a very precious seed and it was my privilege to plant it, to tend it and help it to grow.
I returned knowing that I needed to respond in a way that would continue to raise both awareness and support, but I had no idea what shape this would take. Initially, I wrote a 40 page photo journal of my experiences and impressions and was invited to speak to a few groups here at St. Mary’s. But since then, rice seeds have turned to seed beads, and Now H-earings have started blooming in my mission garden!
“What is H-earings all about?
H-earings is a “grass roots” effort to raise awareness of the great need of people struggling to exist in the deeply rooted poverty of Haiti, and to let people know about the wonderful work being done to empower Haitians to build a better life. Hopefully, through the production and sale of unique hand-made earrings, a significant impact will be made over time to financially assist with this work.
The mission of H-earings is three-fold:
To raise awareness for the poor – to awaken “EARS that HEAR”
To invite anyone who is interested to participate in and help fund the creation of unique hand- crafted earrings by attending and/or hosting a H-earings Party.
To sell these earrings to the public, raising funds to further the work of four fine organizations, working alongside the poor of Haiti. Three of these missions are supported directly by the St. Mary’s Haiti Fund: St. Boniface Haiti Foundation (Fond-des-Blancs), Pwoje Espwa (Fr. Marc Boisvert’s orphanage in Les Cayes), and The Missionaries of Charity’s homes for children and the dying throughout Haiti. A fourth mission (an orphanage in Port-au-Prince “Wayom Timoun”), has recently been added as well.
The H-earings Parties are where all the fun and action is! These regular gatherings of interested volunteers provide the opportunity to educate the public, produce more earrings, and also to raise donation money to support the project. 100% of all proceeds from the sale of the earrings goes directly to the missions H-earings supports.
H-earings are currently sold at three locations: St. Mary’s Gift Shop, Joyful Hope Gift Shop in the Auburn Mall, and Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services in Lewiston.
“What do you want others to know about the mission in Haiti?”
Since the earthquake of January 12, many people have donated money to humanitarian aid organizations working in Haiti. Much of that money has provided supplies and help for the people who need it, but much has not. You’ve probably heard reports of the frustration being voiced about the lack of organization and efficiency of the Haitian Government in getting the aid to the people. And this is a huge problem for the larger relief organizations. That is why it’s so great to have a connection through H-earings to be able to assist smaller NGO’s that have been working alongside the Haitian people for years. This aid for the most part does not have to pass through government hands and does not get tied up in customs. The help we give to these organizations is really getting through to the people in a way that makes a positive difference in their lives. The organizations we support are nothing short of Excellent. They are helping Haiti in the right way, with respect to their autonomy and way of life, meeting immediate needs short-term and empowering Haitians to rise up and lead their people to a better future. I am just so honored to be a part of this great work.
I would encourage anyone to check out their websites:
Not everyone can commit to traveling to Haiti or doing the amount of work that you do. What do you recommend for those that want to be involved but in a lesser capacity?”
“It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters. “ (Mother Teresa)
I don’t think I need to add to this….it’s not how much we do; it’s the heart of compassion that matters. Here are several ideas that come to mind:
• Pray. If you are a believer, please include the people of Haiti and the mission work going on there in your regular prayers.
• Keep informed, not just from the TV news reports, but find out what is happening at the mission locations we support. Check out the websites. Subscribe to RRS feeds. Spread the word.
• Join the St Mary’s Haiti Committee. This is a very small time commitment most of the year and we need your fresh ideas.
• Volunteer to help with St. Mary’s annual mission week coming up in October. (This is where I first jumped in. It’s a lot of fun helping out at the Haiti Marketplace! ) Plan to at least come by to bid on some auction items, buy some raffle tickets, and get some lunch.
• If you’d like to try your hand at making jewelry, come to a H-earings Party. No prior skill required. All materials provided. Or you can host a party at your home.
• If you are a “facebooker”, go to the H-earings page and click on “like”. Then you will stay updated with all the latest news. Also coming soon: www.h-earings.org
• When you have a need for a gift for a lady, please consider a pair of H-earings. It’s unique, affordable, it always fits, and it’s the gift that gives twice.
• If you have the means, consider a direct donation to the St. Mary’s Haiti Fund.
Do you support a St. Mary’s or United Way organization? Let us know what that means to you. Contact Cindy Cronkhite @ firstname.lastname@example.org