Outreach to Benefit Haiti

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Carol T. Spencer was looking for new avenues of outreach for the Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor, but couldn’t come up with much. That was until her cousin, a collector of Haitian art, called and told her about an art sale she went to in Wappingers Falls, New York. It was held at the Zion Church and it was a benefit for the Vassar Haiti Project (VHP), a volunteer effort supporting the education and nutrition of school children in the village of Chermaitre.

“She gave me the information and we went from there,” said Spencer, who noted this was the biggest outreach event the church had ever held.

Haiti currently suffers from a 98 percent deforestation rate, a 70 percent illiteracy rate and 50 percent unemployment rate. Children in Chermaitre attend one room schoolhouses that have no floors and are often unreachable by road. Money raised by VHP is used to purchase books, subsidize teacher salaries and establish a consistent school lunch program for the children.

The opening reception for the benefit is Friday, July 25 at 5 p.m. and will be held in the upper parish hall of the church on Union Street at Route 114. The Haitian Art and Handcraft Sale continues on Saturday and Sunday at the church. Suzanne Preiman, who is on the church’s vestry, said she was thrilled when the opportunity to hold the benefit arose.

“I think it’s a wonderfully diverse congregation,” said Preiman. “This is an exciting project and it just feels like the timing is right. It’s a very diverse community of people who work together regardless of issues like wealth, gender, sexual orientation, race, the whole bit. I think it could be a great outreach church.”

Preiman said such a congregation is essential when it comes to outreach and mission work.

“For me it’s a key component of how people can work together,” she said. “There’s no nitpicking that gets in the way of rolling up your sleeves and getting a job done.”

All the proceeds from the weekend arts and crafts sale, which features over 150 original paintings, unique gifts, silk scarves, jewelry and iron sculptures, will go directly to the Vassar project.

VHP co-chairs Lila and Andrew Meade visited the Christ Church a few weeks ago and sat down with Preiman to talk about their work.

“Their love and dedication to this project is infectious,” said Preiman. “They have been [to Haiti], they have seen the work that’s been done and they know where the money is going. That’s one of the reasons they’re full of such sprit.”

Preiman said she was not sure if any members of the congregation here would try and make a trip to Haiti with VHP, but she did say she hoped the church can keep up a relationship with the project.

“I would like to see this become a steady ministry for us,” she said.

The Haitian Art and Handcraft Sale opens Friday, July 25 at the Christ Episcopal Church at Hampton and East Union Street in Sag Harbor from 5 to 8 p.m. The sale will also be held on Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, July 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call 725-0128.

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