One of the Haiti Outreach Committee’s constant challenges is raising enough money to fund a mission that has grown substantially since the committee was formed in 2000. What began as a tentative partnership between Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville and St. Michel parish in Boucan Carre has blossomed beyond the expectations of those early days. Today the partnership, which has added St. Kateri Tekawitha parish in Tabb, Virginia, funds two schools and a medical clinic with a combined budget of more than $200,000.
Funding a budget of this size requires both creativity and a sustained commitment by an all-volunteer organization. Both were evident last month in a highly successful rummage sale that generated more than $10,000 for the Haiti Outreach mission. The three-day rummage sale was at Sacred Heart School and was the first attempted by our group. The complicated array of tasks began with organizing thousands of donations that included clothes, kitchen appliances, furniture, and various household items. Volunteers assisted with sorting the donations, staffing the sale, and making sure the items not sold went to Catholic Charities.
Customers were waiting when the doors were opened on Thursday afternoon and kept a steady stream through Saturday. Some were “professional” rummage customers seeking good buys for potential resale. Others were families looking for low cost items for their homes.
The rummage sale was organized and managed by Haiti volunteers Jennifer Neil Bailey, Jennifer Lackey and April Comerford. The two Jennifers and April did an amazing job of handling a multitude of issues that included pricing the items and keeping track of an event with a huge flow of cash. All of us owe them a debt of gratitude.
The money raised at the rummage sale will help lessen the impact of a revenue shortfall over the past fiscal year that ended on June 30. While revenues in 2017-18 were in line with funds raised in most previous years, the committee’s income was substantially less than the record amount raised last year. The result was a deficit that made it necessary to make a relatively small reduction in education funding in the coming year. While it is never easy to reduce funding, a drop in enrollment at the Boucan Carre primary school--which was seriously overcrowded--makes the budget cuts less dramatic.
Going forward, we are hopeful that the committee will be able to sustain the programs that have made our mission one of the most vibrant in Haiti. As always, we will continue to seek new ways of generating the revenue required to keep this mission alive.
Anyone interested in learning more about our program can visit our website at "www.haitioutreachprogram.com". Because of the holidays, our next meeting will be Thursday, July 12 at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.