Haiti, for Becky Reeser, has become a second home.
Haiti, for Becky Reeser, has become a second home.
The Germantown Hills woman has been going to the destitute island nation often to make a difference in the lives of the people there through her non-profit organization called Life’s Path.
Life’s Path Corp. was formed in October 2010. Reeser holds the position of founder and chief executive officer. The titles are fancy but there is nothing fancy about the work she and her volunteers do. They spend their time in a grueling environment helping feed, clothe and educate the residents of Jacmel. Here at home she works as a registry nurse at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
Reeser has seen the goals she set for the organization surpassed. So, she is setting a loftier goal — raising $125,000 to create a vocational school on the island. She said the goal is large, but she said the need is larger.
“When I grow tired and discouraged in the battle to help the children in Haiti, I have my conscience to wrestle with knowing how the people there struggle from day to day just to drink clean water and eat. I remind myself each day that we can do a small part to make a difference one life at a time,” Reeser said.
“I began going to Haiti in July, 2007 with Friends of the Children of Haiti. I fell in love with the people and country of Haiti then,” Reeser said. “However, passion struck my heart in April, 2010, when I traveled alone to Haiti for the first time to hand food out to hungry children and families which was made possible by a group of first graders at Hensey School in Sunnyland who donated $1,200 to help families after the earthquake.” Reeser said she felt honored to be the liaison between these children and the children of Haiti.
“However, flying home, I couldn’t stop worrying about the fate of these families in the months to come. I left Haiti feeling different and more compelled than ever to help make a difference — not a difference that would fix their lives for a day but a difference that would change their lives forever,” Reeser said.
“As I drove through Port-au-Prince, in April 2010, I lost track of the number of tent cities holding thousands of lives desperate for a better tomorrow. Tents everywhere and anywhere that the rubble was not piled and there was room to hang three corners of a bed sheet or tarp. I saw children wandering lost or orphaned. The children are beautiful, regal, full of dignity, and poised for greatness. Their poverty is a momentary, light affliction, because I see a future of Haiti in the children, a hope for a brighter future.”
Reeser said she has been fortunate to find friends and donors who have offered tremendous support since day one.
“Life’s Path has been blessed to have the support of private individual donors and a church in Iowa enabling us to provide life-changing opportunities for families in Haiti,” Reeser said. “I, with a friend from Miami, have made several trips this year to prepare the school building and open Life’s Path Academy in Jacmel.
Finding outside support, she said, is not an easy task.
“The toughest obstacle we face with raising funds is ensuring potential donors that the money is going where it is intended,” Reeser said. “During my trips, pictures are taken of every project, then communicated through newsletters, email, YouTube videos, our website, or blog so that donors can be assured we are creating self-sustaining job opportunities and education as we have intended.”
Life’s Path is currently renting a house converted into a school, which they are quickly outgrowing.
“This fall, we enrolled 40 sponsored children into our program and have many on a waiting list waiting for a sponsor so that they can attend our school. The opening of the school has provided more than 20 jobs within the community,” Reeser said. “Our full-time staff includes our certified Haitian teachers, Carline, Marie Ange, Vanessa, and Yensie, our school director, Ariche, Life’s Path VP of Haitian Relations, Jacky, the school janitor, Veronique, a logistics coordinator, a maintenance man, and a grounds keeper.”
Reeser said the organization has surpassed her goals.
“In 2010-11, we worked with over 600 Haitian people to better their lives. We have opened Life’s Path school, enrolling 40 preschool children, creating 20 jobs for teachers and others throughout the community. We purchased 85 goats to help facilitate self-sufficiency for families through a pay it forward system. We donated clothing, food, hygiene items to families to promote health and nutrition. We donated a fishing spear gun as an entrepreneurial opportunity/experiment in a “teach a man to fish” program.”
But, this, Reeser said, is just a Band-Aid. She wants to do more.
“After the devastating earthquake in 2010, I have been in personal contact with hundred’s of Haitian families who have no means to feed their children or earn a living to send their children to school, which is their only hope for escaping the harsh living conditions of impoverishment,” Reeser said. “It has been my passion and goal to build a vocational school and community center in Haiti in order to help families become self-sustaining. We can continue to keep putting a Band-Aid on the situation by offering continual handouts, or we can provide a means for people to work, giving them a sense of pride and security.”
To get past the Band-Aid stage, Reeser said, she wants to raise $125,000 to build a school. Reaching that goal, she said, will allow the organization to offer vocational skills such as gardening, canning, candle making, weaving, making soaps and lotions, building and automotive.
“The list is limitless. This is a lofty goal. However, throughout this last year, we have been blessed to have generous, heart-felt donations that have enabled us to surpass our goals. We have determined this amount is a start and will give us the foundation we need to build a structure that will encompass educational classrooms, a community/worship center, rooms for housing volunteers and a kitchen to provide meals for the students,” Reeser said..
“I believe compassion, hope, encouragement, strength, and trust will empower all of us to help these families and children, who look into the future and see no hope, have no encouragement, strength or trust, believe somewhere someone on the other side of the world cares and wants to make their world a better place. Life’s Path is about helping them live a better life, not by continually handing them the basic necessities in life but by working with them to teach them how they can make a difference when given a chance and paying it forward. It’s amazing how a little can go a long way; $25 a month can change a life forever.”
To learn more visit www.lifespathhaiti.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: Karnival fundraiser for Life’s Path
WHEN: 4-8 p.m. Jan. 28
WHERE: Knights of Columbus on Radnor Road, Peoria
DETAILS: Food, music, raffle, silent auction and prizes. Tickets are $25/single, $40/couple, $50/family. Ticket prices include dinner, drinks and beer.
MORE INFO: contact email@example.com or call/text 696-7429
Playing a part in Life’s Path
Life’s Path is launching the Building Blocks for Education program
By buying a block for $5, your name will be displayed on the school wall in remembrance of your contribution. This is only a small token of appreciation for your generous gift and support!
Donations graciously accepted at the levels indicated:
• Ankourajman ak Lespwa – Encouragement and Hope... $5 - $100
• Pouvwa ak Fos - Power and Strength.... +$100 - $250
• Lanmou ak Devouman - Love and Dedication... $250 and up
All donations are tax deductible.
Donor names and levels will be published unless otherwise requested.
Donations may be mailed to Life’s Path, 1334 N. Independence Court, Metamora, IL 61548