Hope Alliance fundraiser helps Haitian orphans
Kym Meehan became involved with Haitian orphans 16 years ago when she and her husband Dan visited a pastor who had sent her a hand-written letter asking her to help find a way to help feed and clothe the children.
"We flew down to Haiti to meet him and he was an amazing man," Meehan remembered. "We held a clothing drive in Park City and that’s how it all started."
The pastor has since passed away, but the Meehans have continued to help the orphans through the nonprofit umbrella organization Hope Alliance, which oversees seven projects in Haiti, Guatemala and Peru to name a few.
The Meehans’ main project is the orphanage in Camatin that houses 32 girls ages four through 16.
The Hope Alliance will hold an auction and fundraiser at the Kimball Art Center on Saturday, Sept. 29. The one-night only event will raise money to support the orphanage.
The event will feature an auction of paintings created by the girls who live in the house.
"When I was down there last June to do some maintenance on the building, I had the pleasure of traveling with an artist from Knoxville, Tennessee," Meehan said. "We took some canvases, paints and brushes and she taught the girls how to paint."
The works were done on these little canvases that measured 12 inches by 16 inches and others that were 12 inches by 12 inches.
"The older girls worked on the bigger ones and the younger ones worked on the smaller ones," she said. "They created some cute and unique pieces that I was able to bring back to sell at the auction."
In addition to the paintings, other hand-make works of art will be offered during the auction.
"Hope Alliance Haiti has started some micro-enterprising and we have a sewing school and a consortium of people, who I call the Tin Men, who pound out and cut out recycled metal for people to paint," Meehan said. "We also have some woodworkers and other artisans, including a group of women who make jewelry. So, we’ll auction some of those works as well."
The goal is to create awareness for what the Hope Alliance Haiti has been doing in the country for the past 16 years, Meehan said.
"It is also my desire to give these girls at the orphanage an opportunity to help themselves out," she said. " having them make some art that would be taken back to Park City for the auction is one of those ways I can do that."
The money raised will help pay for services at the orphanage.
"I asked the girls what they would like to have done with the money," Meehan said. "They all remember what it was like to be homeless and out on the street, and they thought about what they would like the most and, after a day of chewing on the question, they came back and told me that they would like to have an after-school tutor for math and English.
"How about that?" Meehan said with a laugh. "I’m sure if you asked any child between the ages of four and 16 in Park City what they would want with the money, it wouldn’t be a math tutor."
Meehan laments the fact that when the girls turn 16, they have to leave the orphanage because of restrictions, but has been thankful for people who have stepped in as sponsors.
"I’ve been really blessed to have the sponsors who have been supporting these kids, continue to step up in one fashion or another, or have found other sponsors to get the girls who have moved on into higher education," she said. "We have two at the University of Port de Prince and one who is going to cosmetology school and another who is in a nursing program."
There are some girls who have aged-out of the program who are working at the orphanage, she said.
"We’ve been really lucky and, now, 11 of the younger girls are up for international adoption," Meehan said. "We’ve got six open beds, so I can bring six kids off the streets once the funding is available. If we do really well with the fundraiser, we may be able to pull in some kids."
The Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., will host an art auction benefiting The Hope Alliance Haiti on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. To attend, RSVP to http://www.thehopealliance-haiti.org . The cost is free.
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