Message from Linda Petersen, Special Projects Coordinator
As the Special Project Coordinator for Haiti, you may think that I coordinate sewing projects, school supplies collections, and toys and games for the children in our Haiti schools. Up until a year-and-a-half ago, you would have been correct.
Starting in the summer of 2015, BLSH, Inc. was organized to meet the monetary needs for our three WELS schools in Haiti, started by Pastor Terri Schultz, Missionary to Hispaniola (thus Haiti).
Once Pastor and Mary Schultz took up residence in Chicago rather than the Dominican Republic, we lost our pipeline to get supplies from the U.S. to Haiti. Previously, I could send items to the D.R. and Mary, Tish, and Pastor Rona would take them by bus to Haiti. Now we have to rely on whatever extra suitcases people can take to Haiti. There is no sure fire way to ship directly to Haiti and know the items will get into the right hands.
My dear friend, Pam Folkens, and I started annual trips to Haiti in September 2014. We returned there in November 2015 and again in January 2016. Our next trip is planned for October or November 2017. On our trips, we each take two checked bags full of items for Haiti and one roller bag carry-on with our personal goods. We pay for these trips, airfare, hotel, food, extra baggage, etc. We do not take any money away from the schools.
I have a huge stockpile of handmade and donated items for the children that I received prior to Pastor Terry's return to the U.S. as his base. It has been slow-going to get these items to Haiti. That is the main reason why sewing and collecting items is no longer viable. We have put those things on the back burner until we can get more of the stockpiled goods to the children.
My main function, along with my cohort Pam, is to set up fundraisers and help other individuals, groups, and congregations do the same. We have held a spaghetti supper/silent auction, two garage sales, an Easter breakfast 2016, a kraut-n-rib supper, a turkey dinner, and hosted another Easter breakfast on April 16, 2017. We have raised somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 at each function.
We owe a great deal of thanks to Thrivent Financial for their Thrivent Action Team program. We have applied five times for the $250 start-up money, and we have received it every time. We don't have to take any of our monetary donations to purchase food, etc., as the Thrivent funds have covered our expenses each time. Any Thrivent member can apply and receive money two times in a calendar year. The online application is very simple, and they also send banners, t-shirts, invitations, thank you cards, and pretty much everything needed to get your fundraiser going.
If you are interested in setting up a fundraiser for Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc., please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help in any way I can. I can also supply pictures from our trips, a small PowerPoint, and some video of the children upon request.
Our schools are growing at an unbelievable rate, and our monthly budget keeps increasing. The BLSH Board of Directors has recently expanded funding to include nutrition assistance for each of the three orphanages. All proceeds we have received go directly to the schools, except for the very small amount for bank fees.
I feel extremely blessed to be a part of this very unique and necessary mission work in Haiti. The three schools now each has a congregation of directors, teachers, students, and neighbors, and they hold church services every Sunday. The three directors are all Lutheran. We can't let these children, their teachers, and their neighbors down. We need these schools to continue.
May God bless you, the children, the teachers, the BLSH board, and all who work to keep these schools operating.
Special Projects Coordinator,
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc.