As the end of the year approaches, our mailbox starts filling up with opportunities for giving from a variety of worthy charities. Like a lot of people, we like to do what we can to help those less fortunate, but it can be difficult to choose where to give.
One of the things I look for is how much money makes it to the people needing help and how much is spent on administrative costs. Obviously, some money must go to overhead, but sometimes it seems too much goes toward office expenses and employee salaries, leaving too little to actually help the people in need.
Another thing I consider is whether the help being provided is meeting short-term needs only or is also trying to help provide long-term solutions. In some cases, after a natural disaster for instance, it critical to deliver emergency assistance as soon as possible. In other cases, however, the old adage of it being better to teach a person to fish rather than simply giving them fish is appropriate.
As many of you readers who’ve gotten to know me over the years are aware, I have a continuing interest in helping in Haiti. Our church has maintained a sister relationship with a 23-village parish in the remote mountainous countryside of Belle Fontaine. Each April we send a sea crate of school supplies to Port au Prince, where the items are then transported and distributed to the 23 village schools. We also raise funds to pay teacher salaries, repair school buildings and purchase classroom equipment. Our thinking is that, by investing in the Haitian children's education, we can have the greatest impact in improving their individual chances for success, their family’s future prospects and the overall well-being of the community. Educated children eventually become adults who are better prepared to make good choices for themselves, their families and their village.
We host a variety of fundraisers throughout the year including spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts, a 5K run and walk and other events.
Each January, a travel team from our parish goes to Haiti to visit some of the remote villages we sponsor and meet the families there. We conduct teacher in-service programs to help classroom instructors learn new, effective teaching methods. We meet with local leaders to identify areas that need help in the community and appraise the progress of projects we have helped fund in the past.
Last year, our sister parish priest, Father Eddy, asked me to help him develop a chicken brooder center near Port au Prince where he could raise young chickens to be distributed to farmers in the villages he serves to help them develop their own flocks.
Chicken eggs are a nutritious source of protein, and, because there are practically no natural predators for chickens in Haiti, they are a relatively easy to keep. They are able to take advantage of the hardscrabble conditions, finding available food while free ranging, and turning it into eggs and meat the farmers can use to feed their families, sell or trade for other goods.
This project is outside our regular mission of education support, and we do not have the funds to finance it. I am working to find new donors who can help get this program started. Once it is up and running, it will become self-sustainable fairly quickly; surplus eggs and meat from the hatchery will be used to pay for feed and other supplies.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the chicken project by sending your check to :
All Saints Church
720 29th Street SE
Cedar Rapids IA 52403
Please mark “Chicken Project” in the memo field. Our bookkeeper will let me know of your donation and we will send you a thank you note with a receipt for your taxes.
A donation to this program is used 100 percent for purchasing supplies, building materials and livestock. Your donation will help Haitian families become more self-sufficient and enhance many aspects of their lives including providing food security, improved health and financial stability.
In years past, small farmers were known for helping one another through difficult times. Our Haitian farmer neighbors have been struggling ever since the devastating earthquake of 2010 which killed about 300,000 of the 9.6 million people in Haiti. No government assistance exists to help Haitians during times of crisis. And the little help that comes from international organizations rarely makes it to the rural parts of the country.
When I come back from my fifth trip to Haiti in January 2019, I will bring photos of some of the chicken-raising facilities we have helped make happen there. I will also bring back photos and stories from grateful farmers with their growing flocks of chickens, and their smiling families nourished by the positive impact those birds are able to bring to their lives.
I thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide. No donation is too small. All are appreciated.
If you have an event or activity you'd like to talk to Joe about, shoot him an email at
or give him a ring. 319-362-3027