Lindsey, Tio Larry wishes Rebecca and you all the best in your endeavors. It has been a blessing to watch you grow up into the young lady that you are. You are never far from my thoughts. I hope the future allows me to spend more time with you. I hope all my friends and followers of my blog donate to your worthy cause.
P.S. maybe I will surprise you with a maple bar real soon!
Local Non-Profit Opens Haitian School
updated: Sep 09, 2011, 11:46 AM
updated: Sep 09, 2011, 11:46 AM
Source: Destined for Grace
Santa Barbara, CA, September 9, 2011 – Best friends Rebecca Costa-Smith, 25, and Lindsey Connolly, 24, grew up in Carpinteria, California. In 2007, Costa-Smith went on a church trip to Haiti and was deeply moved by the conditions there. Consider: The mortality rate for Haitian children under five is a tragic 87 percent. The average adult has 2.8 years of schooling. Extreme poverty and disease are widespread. A year after that visit Costa-Smith went back, bringing Connolly with her. The pair returned to Santa Barbara determined to find a way to make a difference.
In July 2008 they established Destined for Grace, a non-profit corporation dedicated to improving the quality of life of the children they met in Haiti. Destined for Grace’s first mission was to establish a school in the village of Mirebalais, Haiti for children in grades K through 5. They leased a building on the outskirts of Mirebalais, an area known as Bayasse. The building was little more than bare walls, but Costa-Smith and Connolly had a vision. Over several visits-with help from volunteer groups from Santa Barbara and elsewhere-they transformed the sad structure into a school, painting and tiling the classrooms to make them some of the nicest in the area. Thanks to heroic fundraising efforts and generous personal donations, Ecole Destined for Grace will open its doors to 115 students on October 3, 2011, at no cost to the students or their families. “Our goal is to educate, feed and love these children and hopefully to inspire them to pursue higher education,” Connolly says.
The school itself will be fully self-sustainable. “We will grow produce to feed the children while teaching them the process of cultivation,” Connolly says. The school will employ a full-time staff of Haitian teachers and workers to run the daily operations and oversee the care of the children. Destined for Grace proudly leads groups of volunteers to Haiti to expose them to the needs of this suffering society. Due to the lack of an established mail system, deliveries are made monthly in order to assure the school has sufficient supplies to operate.
As part of ongoing fundraising efforts, Destined for Grace has already established two local thrift shops in Carpineria and Santa Barbara. This week, a third store opened in Old Town Goleta. In addition to funds received from the stores and personal donations, the organization has received dozens of student sponsorships. Each $115 donation provides one child with a uniform, meals and school supplies for the year. Despite an outpouring of support, there are still many students hoping to be sponsored in the coming academic year.
Those wishing to support Destined for Grace are encouraged to sponsor a child, donate clothes, furniture, books and other household items to one of the three Destined for Grace Thrift Stores, make a tax-deductible donation and of course, volunteer to visit the school. “We’ve received tremendous support, and feel confident that Ecole Destined for Grace is just the beginning of what we can offer the children of Haiti,” Connolly says.
The new Destined for Grace Thrift Store opened September 6, 2011at 5960 Hollister Avenue in Goleta. Other stores are located at 5406 Casitas Plaza in Carpinteria and 720 Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. Please visit http://www.destinedforgrace.org for more information.