Our annual banquet held on October 7 was, as always, one of the highlights of the year for the Haiti Outreach Program. More than 175 guests took part in a “Mediterranean Evening,” complete with a wonderful assortment of Middle Eastern food cooked by our volunteers. Tables decorated with white table cloths, olive leaves and lemons blended with Mediterranean music to create a festive atmosphere and transform a school gymnasium into the setting for our most important annual fundraising event.
Hosted by Dave Foulk, formerly of WOKI, the program featured three young persons who went to Haiti in the past year. Steven Dirmeyer of Alcoa, a sophomore at East Tennessee State University, traveled to Haiti with his father as part of a medical mission that went to our clinic in Bouly and treated some 350 patients in three days. He was joined by Mimi Conners and Valerie Monarrez of Catholic High School, who were part of an all-girls group who went to Bouly in July. Through the unique perspectives of young people, the three shared their impressions of Haiti and the impact their trip, both on understanding the value of our efforts and on how their view of the world had changed since their visit.
The banquet’s focus on young people was a reminder of the importance of introducing and attracting young people to participate in our Haiti outreach initiatives. In the fifteen or so years since we have been taking young people to Haiti, several have returned to spend time in Haiti, learn the language, and become invaluable members of our group. One helped purchase the land and record the deed for our clinic. Another translates contracts and other documents into Creole. A third began as a high school student and is now the group’s treasurer.
The donations generated by the banquet are a critical source of funding for the parish, two schools and remote clinic supported by our program. We are grateful to the individuals and companies whose generous support is making a genuine difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We are equally grateful to the volunteers who contributed their time and resources to provide a fantastic meal and a beautiful evening.
If you would like to learn more about what we do or wish to provide a donation, please visit our website at http://www.haitioutreachprogram.com