by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”The Rev. Steve Good was a college student in 1982 the first time he went to Haiti. His immersion in the Haitian history and culture, and the connection he felt with its people, was an experience so powerful that he said the best way to describe it is, â€œthe Haiti bug bit me.â€
â€œHaiti gets under your skin,â€ the pastor of the Sugar Grove Methodist Church said. â€œYour heart is connected to it in more than a temporary way.â€
Since the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, Good said his heart has stirred once again with compassion, and he feels a strong pull to use what he has already learned of the Haitian people and their Creole language to be of service.
As a minister, Good has led other mission groups to serve in Haiti, the last of which was seven years ago. He has helped take care of babies and children in a hospital ward and an orphanage, and interacted with boys at St. Joseph’s Boy’s Home, where the young men learned skills, experienced self-worth and love, and were encouraged to contribute to society in a positive way.
He had to cancel a more recent trip several years ago, due to the level of street violence at the time.
This time, he will join an existing group, called The Haiti Partnership, a United Methodist organization out of New York and Pennsylvania. The Haiti Partnership is connected to the greater organization within the United Methodist Church, UMCOR, or United Methodist Committee on Relief.
He leaves for Haiti on May 19 and will travel to Melliee, a rural village 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince. While there, he will help with deconstruction, as well as with the group’s children’s ministry programs.
â€œI always tell my congregation that God has blessed you with different gifts and abilities, and that they should use them for God’s purposes,â€ he said. â€œI feel compelled to put myself in the midst of some recovery efforts.â€
He said that it has been wonderful to see local support for the people of Haiti, and although the flow of aid has not been as strong as it was in the month following the earthquake, he is still receiving calls from churches and other organizations that continue to want to be involved.
Members of his church have donated health kits, as well as birthing and layette kits, and help continues to reach places such as Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince.
Although most of the hospital buildings have been destroyed, the hospital uses military-supplied tents to continue to provide medical care for children and adults with tuberculosis, malnutrition and AIDS.
Since so many waterborne diseases lead to death in children, hospital employees work with other organizations to provide clean water, using methods and technology that will be sustainable for the local community.
â€œI’m very grateful that people want to contribute,â€ he said.
To assist with his fundraising, the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church held an all-you-can-eat chili supper at the Sugar Grove Community Center on April 24, where good-will donations were accepted. These funds will help to pay for his trip expenses, as well as for the supplies he will take with him.
Good said that he knows when people make a contribution, they feel more comfortable when there is a personal and local connection. He is happy to provide people with that connection, to allow them to say to themselves, â€œHere’s a way I can help.â€
Donations are still being accepted for Good’s mission to Melliee, Haiti. For more information or to contribute, individuals may call the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church at (630) 466-4501. For more information about UMCOR, visit the website at www.umcor.org.
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