By Pamela Reidy
When there is despair, look around and you will find hope. Hope is not some vague outcome we vision for the future; it is very nearby. This week, one year after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, Worcester marked the anniversary with prayer services, progress reports and remembrances of the dead; it also celebrated the work of several local citizens to raise Haiti out of the ruins.
Spirit of Hope, Inc. a Worcester non-profit founded after the earthquake had a heroes’ breakfast to introduce local volunteers who have worked in Haiti to the people that funded them. Local schools participated in Hats for Haiti, allowing children to wear a hat in school, each paying a dollar to be contributed to Spirit of Hope’s fund for educators who want to travel and work in Haiti.
Spirit of Hope is a funding organization that provides financial support to individuals or groups traveling to Haiti to work temporarily or permanently directly with the poor. It provides educational programs to the local community about the work being done to restore Haiti, and it connects people and programs here to people and programs in Haiti.
President and founder of Spirit of Hope, Pamela Reidy, a Worcester resident, has been volunteering in Haiti for 20 years. With the support of her family, friends, and former students, the organization took shape very quickly and to date has funded 10 volunteers that have contributed more than 200 days of work in Haiti.
BJ Hill of Leicester, who works for Worcester Children’s Friend, recently returned from his three months trip, offering Habitat for Humanity his information technology skills, and working with cholera victims on the weekends. Tommy Burn, a Connecticut architect, left New England January 19 to spend a week checking on the group home he is helping to build for severely disabled children who lost their home in the earthquake. It will be Tommy’s fourth trip. Annie Doyle of Worcester worked in Haiti early on helping traumatized children recover from their fear. Sarah McRell, a nurse from UMASS Medical Center was funded for her second trip to Haiti as she worked with children at a Port Au Prince clinic.
In May of this year, Peter and Linda Faford from Charlton were awarded $6,000 for their work at an orphanage in Haiti. This was all made possible through the generosity of people who gave to Spirit of Hope.
The recent Sunday Pancake Breakfast, Experience the Hope, celebrated the donors and the volunteers, allowing them to sit for a meal and share what both have accomplished for Haiti. It also raised the funding needed to send more volunteers.
Hope is a necessary commodity, alive and well in the transforming action of donors and volunteers. For this type of compassion and commitment, for these kinds of citizens, Worcester and Haiti are all the better.