PIQUA — As Thanksgiving approaches, the Piqua Rotary Club invites its local community to participate in an uplifting benefit to provide a concrete block home for Haitians left homeless by a 2010 earthquake. “A Home for the Holidays” is the theme of a Dec. 1 fundraiser scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Edison State Community College. The event is open to the public.
“We’ve received outstanding community support in the form of sponsorships, donations and ticket sales,” noted Rotary World Service Chair Sharon Semanie. Tickets are $50 per person and can be obtained from Readmore’s Hallmark or Harvest Pantry, both located on Main Street, or by contacting Semanie at (937) 615-9335.
Keynote speaker is Angel Aloma, executive director of the international relief organization, Food for the Poor, along with Ben Scott Sr., retired Piqua businessman. Both Aloma and Scott recently returned from the impoverished country, where they videotaped progress made in rebuilding Haiti since the earthquake killed 250,000 residents and left 1.3 million homeless. It’s been estimated nearly 50,000 Haitians remain in tent cities.
With neighbors in Boca Grande, Fla., Scott and his wife, Louise, have been instrumental in helping build 227 homes with water and sanitation, community centers and provide farm animals. It’s been estimated the cost of building one home is $6,500, a goal hope to be attained by the Piqua Rotary Club at its upcoming gala.
“A reception will be held from 6-7 p.m. in the Edison atrium area,” according to Semanie, and it will include both beverages and Caribbean-inspired appetizers including Haitian meat pies, fried green plantains, black rice and peas, shrimp cocktail, carved beef and turkey, crudités and cheeses. Background steel drum entertainment will be provided by Brian Leingang.
A special program will follow in the Edison theatre from 7-8 p.m. featuring Scott as emcee and Aloma, who is traveling to Piqua from Food for the Poor headquarters in Florida. They will provide an update on Haiti and show a special videotape made during their September visit.
Scott said Food for the Poor has identified 130 (Haitian) families “living in shacks between the city dump and the sea. During high tide their makeshift homes flood, and the overwhelming smell of rotting garbage is ever present. No human being should have to live like this. We feel this situation cries out for our immediate and undivided attention. It’s so critical that we are compelled to try to build all 130 homes in one year.”
Scott said the 2017 goal is $832,000 to build these homes. Together with the efforts of Boca Grande and Piqua Rotary Club, Semanie hopes everyone will contribute much-needed funds and “help to rebuild Haiti one block at a time.” For every dollar raised, she said, “matching funds are being provided by an anonymous donor.”