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Gathering celebrates creation of Haiti Partners

A glitch with the air-conditioning gave the lovely Marbrisa East Clubhouse a sultry, tropical feel Thursday evening at a Haiti Partners celebration.  Several in attendance, freshly returned from a trip to Haiti, laughed that the humidity and warm ocean breezes were reminiscent of their recent experiences.  But regrettably, the similarities stopped there.  With plenty of delicious food, fresh water, electricity and all the other creature comforts we’re used to in this country, our surroundings were a far cry from the poor living conditions in Haiti.

The cocktail party was hosted by Haiti Partners co-directors John Engle and Kent Annan to thank organization founders, board members and supporters, and to celebrate the birth of Haiti Partners, an offshoot of the Pennsylvania-based organization Beyond Borders.  Annan was also celebrating the release of his new book, Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle, Living Fully, Loving Dangerously, which relates his experiences traveling and working in Haiti.

Vero Beach residents Engle and Annan have always endeavored to keep the decision making process at the ground level in Haiti, ultimately giving the people a say in their future.  Similarly, they felt that a Vero Beach based board and advisory board would enable a greater connection with local supporters as the organization continues to grow.  The first three Haiti Partners board members, Adam Bolinger, Joanna Jones and Cathy LaCroix, have supported the organization from Beyond Borders to its current status.  Mingling with guests, Bolinger and Jones, along with fellow recent Haiti travelers Milt Thomas and Pastor Jack Diehl, related some of the more humorous and touching experiences from their visit last month.

Engle and Annan caught the gathering up regarding recent developments and achievements in Haiti, and  showed a wonderful video that demonstrated a partnership with the Cite Soleil Community School. Statistics show that less than 50% of school-aged children attend school; the goal is help Haitians change Haiti through education.  The thought is to train the teachers and community leaders and this current generation of students. Eventually, through those teachers, the number of students will multiply exponentially, insuring long term success.

Attendees were also made aware of a couple of upcoming fundraisers. Sara and Ed Dessureau from the Vero Beach Theater Guild noted that Haiti Partners would be a co-beneficiary with the Guild at a special fundraising production of Driving Miss Daisy on February 5 and 6.  And on February 13, there will be an “Inspired by Love” Haiti Partners Benefit Dinner at the Community Church of Vero Beach that will feature author and inspirational speaker, Tony Campolo. The dinner will also have a silent auction of beautiful Haitian artwork. {igallery 110}

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