Spreading ‘Hope for Haiti’

The words on the side of the homemade box say it all, “It’s time for change in Haiti” — and two Trail residents are trying to make that happen.

Gwen Mercer kicks off the Haiti Banks campaign by dropping off a miniature bank to Bryan Lauzon

Gwen Mercer kicks off the Haiti Banks campaign by dropping off a miniature bank to Bryan Lauzon

Residents fundraise to help rebuild homes

in ravaged country

The words on the side of the homemade box say it all, “It’s time for change in Haiti” — and two Trail residents are trying to make that happen.

It was just over a year ago that an earthquake devastated the Caribbean country and despite humanitarian aid, the country is still struggling to emerge from the rubble.

After attending a meeting at Fruitvale’s Christian Fellowship Centre and hearing Pastor Jim Reimer speak of his experiences in Haiti and his Each One Build One campaign, Art and Gwen Mercer of Trail’s Family Worship Centre have come up with a unique idea to help the Haitian cause.

“It just hit me, nothing was being done, and I saw a man (Reimer) with compassion, sincerity and integrity,” said Gwen Mercer. “I just asked God, what can be done to make it work, because obviously just one person is not going to do it, so I just got the idea of these Haiti banks.”

The banks are Mercer’s creative rendering of a square cardboard box shaped like one of the concrete homes Each One Build One is constructing in Haiti.

Mercer dropped the first bank off at Clive’s Coffee Bar where owner Bryan Lauzon hopes his customers will pitch in and fill it.

The licensed clergywoman will be making the loop from Rossland to Nelson and back through Salmo and Fruitvale, visiting businesses and organizations in hope they’ll lend a hand and help raise funds through the banks.

“I’m just going to go drop in with them, and hopefully this will help spark the fire,” said Mercer. “I know the Kootenays is very generous in giving, so I don’t see a problem.”

The proceeds from the banks will go towards Reimer’s efforts to build 1,000 homes in Grand Goave, the Haitian community that helped Reimer, six chaperones and 17 Mount Sentinel School students survive the earthquake when they visited last year.

The homes will be earthquake-proof and require a family to help another family build a home before they build their own. The plan helps residents learn skills that they can use in the future.

“It builds hope and everybody is chipping in, so there’s a sense of community. I think it’s awesome the way they are doing it.”

The Mercers will visit participating businesses on the second Thursday of the month, and producing photo ID, the money will be counted with the storeowner or manager, a form signed, then totals faxed immediately to Reimer to ensure airtight accountability.

Like Each One Build One, the funds collected from the Haiti Banks will go directly to building homes and restoring hope for Haitians.

Mercer points to another message on the box, this time a verse from Psalms 113:7.

It reads: ‘He raises the poor out of the dust and the needy out of the ash heap.’

“And he does it through people like us – and Jim Reimer,” she adds.