Food for the Poor steps up for Dominica
November 3, 2017
Had Frances Del Sol being asked to speak at Food For the Poor of Canada (FFPC) 10th anniversary thanksgiving celebration last week at the Toronto Hunt Club, she’s convinced she would have broken down at the podium.
In just over 30 minutes, guests raised $50,000 for the Caribbean island that was ravaged by Hurricane Maria.
Stephen McConnell, the grand-nephew of FFP founder Ferdinand Mahfood, kicked off the fundraising with Jam$5,000. He later contributed Can$100.
The money will be used to purchase two containers of zinc sheet metal and lumber.
“As I was sitting there and the contributions kept pouring in, I couldn’t help but think how generous Canadians are,” said Del Sol who is Dominica’s trade & investment commissioner in Canada. “When I was told that funds would be raised for Dominica, I thought it would be a few hundred dollars that could be used to buy canned food and other necessities. Nothing prepared me for what took place here today.”
Overwhelmed by the generosity, Del Sol has pledged to become an FFPC volunteer.
“I am a convert and I will support this organization the same way I do GlobalMedic,” she added. “I will spend the rest of my life doing whatever I can to promote and assist Food for the Poor in their efforts to help the needy.”
FFPC executive director Samantha Mahfood said the containers will be sent to Reaching Elderly Abandoned Citizens Household (REACH) which is FFP’s primary partner in Dominica. The non-governmental organization will distribute the items.
Founded 35 years ago, the interdenominational Christian charity provides basic aid and sustainable development to the needy in 17 Caribbean and Central American countries.
Active in Dominica in the last few years, FFP delivered the first fishing village equipped with four fibre glass boats, a stationary store on St. John’s Academy School campus and shelter, care and education for children at an orphanage.
The organization also delivered 12 tractor trailer loads of relief items in the aftermath of tropical storm Erika that dumped nearly 13 inches of rainfall in about six hours in August 2015.
Del Sol said the needs are more pronounced and urgent.
“With Erika, just parts of the island were damaged by the incessant rain,” she said. “With Maria, it was rain and winds pushing to almost 220 kilometres an hour and the whole island suffered. The roof on my family home was blown away and I have several family members who are in shelters. It is going to take a lot for us to rebuild and get back on our feet again.”
In the last decade, FFPC has built 27 schools and 55 homes and shipped 60 containers of food, medical, education and emergency supplies and a piano worth nearly $21 million. Over the last 12 months, Canadian donors have built five schools and the organization last month celebrated the opening of 100 schools in 50 months. A total of 24 of those schools were built by Canadian donors.
FFPC is seeking 30 volunteers who can raise about $3,000 each to build a school in Trelawny, Jamaica in April.
This year, the organization will raise funds to build schools and homes in Jamaica and Haiti.
For the first time ever, FFPC presented awards to volunteers whose work has impacted many lives in the Caribbean.
Winery entrepreneur Laura McCain was the recipient of the Legacy Award. She and her husband, Peter Jensen, built March Town Basic School in Hanover four years ago.
McCain, who has also built three infant schools in Jamaica and upgraded two primary schools, is building a village in Haiti. The first phase will provide 30 families with homes, solar powered street lights and a well allowing access to clean water that will dramatically improve the health and well-being of the community. A school, chicken farm and the provision of small business loans for women will form part of the second phase.
“Laura’s generosity and passion for education and sustainability have made an extraordinary impact on the lives of Jamaicans and Haitians,” said Mahfood.
Tony D’Apice, the co-founder of Race Data which is a marketing company delivering smart solutions for database analytics, marketing automation and customer relationship management strategy, was presented with the Volunteer Award.
He developed and built a donor management database for FFPC that has improved the organization’s stewardship, fundraising and communication capacity.
Gilles Hudicourt, an Air Transat pilot for the last 19 years, accepted the Corporate Partner Award on behalf of his company.
Last year, the airline partnered with FFPC to fly life-saving emergency relief supplies, including water purification tablets to Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The pilots and crew donated their time and the plane was provided free of cost.
Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC), a registered charity dedicated to increasing access to medicine and improving health for the world’s most vulnerable people, was the recipient of the Health Partnership Award presented to Mark Lacoste.
Since 2009, FFPC has shipped over 20 containers of medical supplies totaling close to $20 million. HPIC also partnered with FFPC last year in the emergency response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
The Education Partnership Award was presented to Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) which has collaborated with FFPC to build 17 schools in Jamaica in the last eight years.
With the Jamaica consulate’s support, HHJF emerged with a mandate to create a world-class education system in Jamaica.
Kisko Products president Mark Josephs accepted the award.