On June 22 a group of 15 Rockford area residents departed Cannon Township Offices for a 6-day, 300-mile bicycle ride to raise awareness and money for an orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti. All of the participants have raised money for HIS Home for Children, based in Harrod, Ohio, which is where the riders are biking to and arrived on Saturday morning. Geoff Van Berkel, a Rockford resident and HIS Home board member and his wife Judy have adopted five children from Haiti – one of which was rescued after being found as a newborn left in a dumpster –and have organized a 300 mile bike trip to raise money and awareness of the needs of Haitian orphans for the past 5 years.
River Rock Church is joining forces with talented musicians to present an exciting event that will raise money and awareness for ongoing needs in Haiti. On Saturday, April 28 at 7 p.m., Baltimore-based musicians Val Nebbia and David Parker will take the stage alongside local musicians “Rock of Ages” (featuring Gordon Thayer) and worship pastor, Cameron Blake Warne. River Rock youth will be selling crafts and homemade baked goods. The director of Christian Light Ministries in Haiti, Sherrie Fausey, is flying in from Port au Prince to share her experiences. It’s been a little over two years since a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake left the country of Haiti in ruins, but many organizations such as Christian Light are still working tirelessly toward the country’s stability. River Rock Church and Christian Light Ministries are combing their efforts with the goal to rebuild a damaged orphanage and a new school. General admission is $5 at the door, with 100 percent of admission proceeds and youth ministry sales going to Christian Light Ministry. River Rock Church is located at 6060 Belding Road, Rockford. For more information, visit www.riverrockcommunity.com, or contact Cameron Warne at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 874-0400 ext. 115.
The Second Annual H.I.S. Home 300 Bike Ride, Michigan Route, a six-day noncompetitive bike ride to support Haitian orphans, was started by Rockford resident Geoff VanBerkel and his wife Judy, whose now adopted daughters lived through the 2010 earthquake in Port Au Prince. The fundraising and awareness ride began on June 20, 2011 from Rockford and ended in Harrod, Ohio on June 25. The passion to host and participate in the bike ride came from the VanBerkels’ decision to adopt from Haiti before the earthquake had even struck. Once it did, their adoption process was sped up immediately and within a few weeks, the VanBerkels were picking up their new Haitian daughters who had just survived the disaster. Since they couldn’t adopt all the kids at the orphanage from which their daughters lived—H.I.S. Home For Children—their return to Rockford encouraged the VanBerkels to organize a 300-mile Michigan route bike ride to raise funds and awareness for the orphanage. “More than funds, we are looking for awareness on the part of helping this mission,” said Geoff. “We are hoping that more and more people come to understand this story and find their own unique way to help.” This year’s bike ride is in specific support of a safehouse that was created due to the earthquake, called H.I.S. Home ER (Earthquake Relief) in Port Au Prince. ER houses girls aged 8 to 16 years who were severely affected by the earthquake—there were over 15 girls sold into slavery just after the disaster, multiple accounts of abuse, and five girls who ended up pregnant due to abuse. ER is currently taking care of 29 “at risk” girls at this location. These girls for the most part are not adoptable, and need emotional healing and physical care. The funds raised through the ride will provide the orphaned girls with food, shelter, school, medical and emotional healing, and vocational training. This event is 100 percent volunteer-driven. For more information, visit www.hishome300mi.blogspot.com.
Rockford residents knew more about the earthquake in Haiti before missionaries and Haitians did, said Cliff VanKoevering, of the Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM) in Rockford. VanKoevering was with several volunteers with the mission in Haiti during the earthquake and the 6.1 aftershock. At a press conference held Saturday, January 23, VanKoevering, John Bredeweg and George Meppelink, all just returned from the ravaged country, shared their experiences with members of the media. VanKoevering goes to Haiti every year and performs maintenace work on vehicles for BHM. He was working on a dump truck when the quake hit. “At first I thought the truck had started running rough,” he said. When he saw the ceiling start to come down, for a moment he thought the truck’s dump unit had risen and was tearing up the building. “Immediately after the earthquake there was this eerie sense of stillness,” he said. Then came the dust clouds and the pandemonium. Because communications systems were destroyed, no one on the ground in Haiti knew the extent of the quake, or who was safe. VanKoevering said the worst of what he saw is too graphic to share. What impressed him the most was the resiliency of the Haitians and how quickly the missionaries were able to reorient themselves into relief work. From one day to the next after the earthquake VanKoevering switched from relatively routine work of fixing vehicles to emergency relief delivery. At the BMC compound and hospital near Port-au-Prince the structures survived surprisingly well, allowing the missionaries to provide desperately needed medical services. The resiliency of the Haitian people impressed VanKoevering and others. They said it was amazing to see people who had lost everything—homes, possessions—show up for work every day to offer their help. VanKoevering said it wasn’t difficult to return to the United States and felt that the window of time when he, Bredeweg and Meppelink could be of service had passed. “It’s hard for people to relate to what it is like there, how limited are the facilities,” said Ron Sparks, board member of BHM. VanKoevering said he believes it was time for the next level of relief workers to take his place, whether it be medical help or rebuilding. “Long after Haiti is out of the […]