Left Justified: What’s happening in Haiti?

By Stanley Campbell

Americans have short memories. But I was relieved to receive a phone call asking about recovery programs in Haiti. “Right up my line,” I could say.

I told him he could find out the latest info about Haitian relief Thursday, Oct. 7, at a 7 p.m. program hosted by the Hilltop Ministries, 8301 Mitchell Road, in Machesney Park (that’s north off Highway 173, just east of Perryville Road).

The church is home to Don Dexheimer, a retired pastor who just returned from Haiti June 1. He participated in team leader training at Fond Doux, Haiti. That team helped with a foundation for a new school and medical clinic. Currently, Don is gathering a team to return to Haiti Feb. 9-17, 2011. He’s looking for sponsors and fellow travelers.

The program also features the Rev. Andrea Wight, pastor of St. Anskar Episcopal Church in Rockford. For the past three years, she’s been going on medical missions to Haiti, working to run a clinic/pharmacy in a small mountain village outside of Port-Au-Prince. Pastor Wight’s last trip to Haiti was at the end of May-June 2010, after the devastating earthquake.

The program will also hear from Julia Jones, Church World Service regional coordinator. That’s the CROP Hunger Walk people. She’ll help explain the response to floods in Pakistan and the latest update on Haiti and other world disasters.

This program is free and open to the public, and is intended to help promote the CROP Hunger Walk (Oct 17). I know you are just itchin’ to stretch those legs. This will be the 24th Rockford Area CROP Hunger Walk, which raises money for Church World Service, one of the best (in my humble opinion) international aid groups. The walk does share 25 percent of the take with local food pantries.

The CROP Walk is Sunday, Oct. 17, with a 2 p.m. step-off from the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St. It is hoped that 300 people can raise $30,000 to help local hunger programs and overseas relief.

I know a lot of you are thinking this is “just one more walk,” and you would be correct, except it does have a rich history in this community.

CROP stands for “Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty,” and it was started here in the Midwest right after World War II by farmers as a way to share their crops with Europe.

Now, donations are raised through cash sponsorships raised by the walkers themselves, based upon completion of a 4-mile walk (there is a 1-mile for us oldsters). And money goes around the world to help not only in emergencies, but for long-term developmental aid.

If you want to walk, just show up and make a donation. To pick up a sponsor sheet (so you can hit up your family and friends), drop into JustGoods, 201 Seventh St., through Saturday, Oct. 16, anytime from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Or, contact one of 43 congregations and businesses that are walking.

CWS is celebrating their 64th year of operation. Founded in 1946, Church World Service is the relief, development and refugee assistance ministry of 35 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations in the United States. Working in partnership with interfaith organizations in some 80 countries, CWS meets human needs and fosters self-reliance for all whose life is hard. They have a great record of putting the most money raised directly into their programs.

Local food pantries will receive 25 percent of the money raised to help feed hungry people. The remaining 75 percent will go through Church World Service (celebrating 60 years) and other international relief agencies to provide food and disaster relief in more than 70 countries.

Thanks to all those who still care.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Sept. 29-Oct. 5, 2010 issue

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