Lions donation fuels efforts to help Haitian recovery

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published February 13, 2017

WARREN — After Hurricane Matthew ripped across the western Atlantic Ocean in October, Haitians were once again left to pick up the pieces of their devastated island.

The Category 5 storm, the largest in a decade to affect the region, left a swath of death and destruction across the impoverished island nation to the west of the Dominican Republic and southeast of the Florida coast.

Earlier this month, members from Hope Lutheran Church in Warren used a $1,500 donation from the Warren Lions to make a difference in the recovery.

“A member of our church, Tom Hill, is a member of the Lions Club,” church member Keith Waller said. “A friend of mine, he’s been asking, ‘What can we do?’”

Along with his wife, Kim, Waller has traveled to Haiti more than 35 times over the last 18 years, and he knew a donation by the Lions would certainly help in the wake of the powerful storm.

“Of course, Hurricane Matthew came through in October and did some pretty big devastation to the country,” Waller said. “We’re going to try to help rebuild some homes and repair some of the damage.”

Also, because of the agricultural damage the storm caused and the already skyrocketing cost of living there, he said some money will be used to buy food.

“Because of the loss of crops and things of that nature, food prices have gone up quite a bit,” Waller said. “We’ll use that $1,500 for food and water and supplies to help.”

On the weeklong trip Feb. 1-8, Waller said he used the $1,500 Lions donation, plus another $1,500 in donated funds, to buy 8,500 pounds of rice, beans, vegetable oil, spaghetti and flour for those in need.

The couple operates the “Hope for Haiti” charity ministry in partnership with Hope Lutheran Church.

Hill, a member of the Fraser Lions and a past district governor of the Lions 1182, said he approached the Warren club about making a donation in celebration of the Lions’ centennial celebration.

“Lions Club International is going to be hearing about it. Hopefully, they can get some recognition for it,” Hill said. “This is considered a centennial project that they’re doing.”