Big dollars support literacy in HaitiThe River Falls Rotary Club celebrated a big check at its weekly meeting July 17 as the local-club and overall-district presidents presented two members with a check for $18,200. The money will buy about 2,700 school books for 700 Haitian children.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The River Falls Rotary Club celebrated a big check at its weekly meeting July 17 as the local-club and overall-district presidents presented two members with a check for $18,200. The money will buy about 2,700 school books for 700 Haitian children.
Half the money came from local members beating the streets and making presentations to other Rotary clubs in their district.
With all the clubs pulling together, River Falls Rotary collected enough to qualify for a dollar-to-dollar match from Rotary District 5960 -- instantly doubling the contribution.
Pat O’Malley and Curt Larson of River Falls have done mission work in Haiti for about 12 years through Haitian Relief Services.
They’ve completed several major projects, such as installing a water cistern, building schools and housing, and working with locals to establish a sustainable cash crop that will grow in poor soil conditions.
The two men work through the local nonprofit organization, HRS, and have coordinated for many years with a local priest in Ganthier, Haiti, Father Emmanuel.
Where there was not public education offered in the area, HRS helped build St. Peter’s School, which is owned by the local church, and began the quest for textbooks.
John Kremer is an active member of the River Falls Rotary with O’Malley and chairs the club’s international committee. He knows well the two men’s mission.
Kremer said the school opened last fall, but the students had no books. He has not yet traveled to Haiti but may in the fall, but Kremer understood the need there, especially from similar mission work he’s done in Peru.
“What they needed was books. They would just write what the teacher wrote on the board and use that,” he said, adding that lots of photocopies are usually part of curriculums that don’t include books.
Before fundraising began in earnest, then-president of the River Falls Rotary Club, Carole Mottaz, asked the club to embrace the book project as its international focus for the 2011-2012 year. The club did.
The team then made sure that the project goals met the criteria for a matching grant through its home district, 5960. The goals did.
So O’Malley and Kremer set out to visit other Rotary Clubs and ask them to help River Falls make its ambitious $9,000 goal.
With River Falls making the biggest contribution of $3,000 -- seven other clubs gave generously: The Barron County Sunrise, Hudson Daybreak and Noon, Rice Lake, Red Wing, West St. Paul/Mendota Heights and Winona.
The resulting grant amount enables the missionaries to buy needed textbooks in math, science, history and French.
About 2,500 of the books will be for kids in the 1st through 8th grades -- about 200 books will be bought for preschool-age children.
O’Malley and Kremer expect the books to be delivered within three months. Haitian locals will coordinate buying them through a distributor in Port Au Prince.
Learn more about Haitian Relief Services through its web site at www.haitianrelief.org; or contact its local liaisons via phone, e-mail or U.S. Mail:
Pat O’Mally, W8205 State Road 29; email@example.com; 715-425-9882.
Curt Larson, 737 South Fork Drive; firstname.lastname@example.org; 715-425-5130.