Fundraiser at Hi Ute Ranch is Devoted2Children
Parkite Kristie Buehner and her friend Kristin O’Connell founded the Devoted2Children Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to help orphans in Haiti.
The seed was planted last year when O’Connell was volunteering as a midwife at a Haitian birthing center.
"The facility she was at usually had 30-plus births a day, but on this one particular day, there was nothing happening," Buehner said. "So, Kristin went to explore the village and met a gentleman at a café who needed some help with English translations."
The man was reaching out to organizations in the United States to help with the care of 24 Haitian children that he volunteered to help.
"Kristin called me on the spot and said she felt like her calling was to do something like this and look after these types of kids," Buehner said. "She said she was going to look into this and asked if I would be on board, and I said, ‘Sure, let’s go for it.’"
Two hours later, O’Connell called Buehner again.
"She told me that she met with the director of another organization that was moving out of Haiti, and the director told her that his full local staff would be available for us and that we could take them on and go find some children who needed a home," Buehner said. "Two days later, Kristin had a lease on a house and we established ourselves as an organization."
The home now houses six orphans between the ages of four and 11.
"When they first came to us, they had all these cuts and bruises and their hair was tinted red, which is a sign of malnourishment," Buehner said. "We’ve seen them slowly get healthy and now they are thriving."
To help with the care, Devoted2Children will hold a Hi Ute Hoedown for Haiti fundraiser at the Hi Ute Ranch on Saturday, June 29, from 6:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.
Tickets are $45 for those older than 21 and $20 for participants younger than 21.
The event will feature live music by Artie Hemphill and the Iron Horse Band, a silent auction, food and drinks.
"We’re basically going to hold the party right by the barn, which will be lit up with lights," Buehner said. "We’ll have a mechanical bull and we’ll also have a saloon-style bar on site for libations.
"The Hi Ute Ranch been in my husband’s family for more than 80 years, and it’s located in a beautiful valley and the acreage goes back and back," she said. "My father-in-law Paul has been amazing at supporting the cause. He is a naturalist and conservationist and is all about giving back to the world community."
Park City-based Prescott McCarthy, who has done all of our advertising signs, has donated his art to sell.
"The silent auction will also include some interesting things," Buehner said.
One of those items is a book signed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neil Young.
"Neil doesn’t usually sign anything, but Kristin’s husband works with Neil and is on tour with him and had him sign this book," Buehner said. "We’re really excited for that."
All proceeds will benefit the Devoted2Children Foundation to help with its mission called Healthy Haiti, which gets the children involved within the community.
"What we’ve discovered over this past year is that charity and charity organizations have a certain look and feel," Buehner said. "The kids in Haiti are in desperate need of help, but what we have found was that even though there are many charities over there, nothing was working."
The main reason was because of a concept called "toxic charity," that includes giving handouts, which many church-led charities do.
Years of this model have taken its toll, and now there is little economy, few skilled workers, and lots of Haitians, including more than 1 million displaced children, with their hands out waiting for the next shipment of supplies to arrive, Buehner said.
"Kristin and I felt that if we are going to put our energy and heart into this, we want to do it differently than what the other organizations are doing," she said. "We want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. And we wanted to see what we could do to help the community develop some sustainability and help these kids develop some pride what they can do."
One of the first things Buehner and O’Connell did was organize a beach cleanup.
"Kristin and I are both passionate about beach and mountain communities, and we’ve visited beach communities that have thrived through tourism because the residents have gotten involved," Buehner said. "We were in Jacmel, which is a community right on the coast, and we thought we could do something to help attract tourists.
"For example, in Costa Rica, there is someone on every corner selling coconuts, but in Haiti, no one is doing that," she said. "So, when we talked to the house mom, the woman who takes care of the kids we are helping, about starting up a beach cleanup, she thought we were crazy."
The woman told Buehner and O’Connell that things like that aren’t done in Haiti.
"She and the kids said they would be embarrassed if any of their friends saw them picking up trash from the beach," Buehner said. "So, over the past few months, we’ve did some heavy educating and presented the concept in a way where the kids feel like they were the ones who were leading the way for tourism to expand."
A few weeks ago, Devoted2Children hosted a beach cleanup, which piqued the curiosity of community members, which helped the kids’ confidence.
"They felt empowered because they felt like they were doing something for their community and they took pride in it," Buehner said.
According to Buehner, the group’s mission is simple.
"We want to be a modern charity, and not one that just feeds people," Buehner said. "We want to come in with ideas and concepts that can not only help feed people, but allows them to support each other. And that’s why we’re holding this fundraiser."
Devoted2Children Foundation will host a Hoedown Fundraiser at Hi Ute Ranch, 2379 Kilby Rd., on Saturday, June 29, from 6:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available at by visiting http://www.eventbrite.com and typing "hoedown" in the search field. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/devoted2children.
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