Hodges, Smith and Gibbs
Nitro pharmacist Shelly Hodges (left) and "Friends" board member Malissa Smith accept grants from Rotarian Glen Gibbs.
Friends of Fort Liberté
Rotarians support Haitian relief

February 14, 2012

Walnise St. Julien
Putnam Rotarians today today announced a new international project with three grants to "Friends of Fort Liberté", a relief organization operating in northeastern Haiti near the border of the Dominican Republic and a few miles east of the site of the first European colony in the Americas.

The grants were received by Shelly Hodges of Nitro's Fruth Pharmacy and Malissa Smith, the educational coordinator and a board member for the "Friends" organization.

In a couple of weeks, Hodges again will join a medical mission to the Caribbean nation which was devastated by an earthquake two years ago.

One of the grants today goes toward travel expenses for the group which includes nine doctors, some nurses, pharmacist Hodges, a student pharmacist and extra helping hands. The group expects to serve about 1,500 patients during its time at Fort Liberté.

A second grant will go toward construction of a building at the King Center, a home for orphans at Fort Liberté. The orphanage construction will provide living quarters for 37 children.

The third grant will sponsor eight-year-old Walnise St. Julien for a year, providing a daily lunch and schooling with uniform and supplies at the Fort Liberté EFACAP (That heavy acronym is for the Ecole Fondamentale d'Application Centres d'Appui Pédagogique, the Fundamental Application School and Pedagogical Application Center). Walnise is in the second grade.

The grant also supplements the family income, helping parents Walner and Bernadette St. Julien with the purchase of food, clothing, and shelter for Walnise and her brother Walnick.

Smith reported that 530 children are presently sponsored by "Friends." "If someone cares about you," said Smith, "you are going to have a better chance."

None of the sponsorship money goes for administration or overhead, she said.

The children are sponsored in order of need. Some are so desperate that they will die without immediate help, according to the "Friends" web site.

A special blog site will enable Walnise to know her sponsors, and Putnam Rotarians in turn to follow her progress.

Rotary group
ROTARIANS FOR WALNISE: (back row, left to right) Malissa Smith, Glen Gibbs, Shelly Hodges, Bobby Rhyne, Tim Taylor, Kitty Ellis, Dr. Bill Ellis, Jack Bailey, Bonnie Prisk, Denise Springer, Tom Midkiff, Mike Herron, Chuck Nuckles, Mary Keely, Gary Lacy, Leslee Shaffer, Elaine Rader, and Robert Keely; (seated) Dianna Casto, Dr. Sam Sentelle, Jane Pack, Christina McComas, Dr. Melissa Pratt, Marilyn Pemberton, and Kelly Davis.

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