For the past seven years, a team of 15 students has coordinated volunteer events to raise money for infant formula, powdered milk, vitamins and requested food. They also hold a 5K run/walk; last year the event raised $11,000.
Amanda Pedro, current student Formula for Life leader, said finding the right connection in the Dominican Republic proved impossible, but the group was able to find a connection with Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage, in northern Haiti. Father Andre Sylvestre runs the orphanage.
A graduate of Ball State with a master's degree in counseling psychology, Sylvestre returned to Haiti after an earthquake. Pedro visited the orphanage and realized it was the perfect fit for their relief efforts. During the visit, they realized how tight the space at the orphanage's rental house was. Twenty-seven children, three caretakers and one male guardian are all crowded into the space of a three-bedroom ranch home.
Sylvestre showed them 15 acres he already owns and plans he had for the new orphanage. The group decided to focus on helping Sylvestre realize his dream in northern Haiti.
The orphanage is a place where orphans have access to health care, learn about the Gospel and learn how to shape their own destiny. With the new orphanage, Sylvestre plans to develop the land to include many components including schools, agricultural fields and gardens, a fishpond and a barn where the children will learn how to raise animals.
During the construction of the orphanage, Dr. Amy Obringer, a professor at Saint Francis and the group's faculty adviser, said they are hoping to involve other departments at the University of Saint Francis and Ball State in making solar panels for the project, both for collecting energy and also for baking the bricks used in the construction to harden them.
In May a group of 15 students from Saint Francis will be traveling to the site to help with whatever part of the project they can. The architect for the project will be traveling with them.
“I feel like we will be put to work when we go there,” Pedro said with a laugh.
Obringer said they are unsure just what point the construction is at right now, and they may not know until they get there.
On April 14 Formula for Life will be holding their annual University of Saint Francis 5K run/walk. The money they raise will go with them to Haiti to the orphanage. Currently the group is looking for donations of items valued at $50 or higher for a silent auction for the event. They currently have donations of craft items from Haiti. In the past they have auctioned off restaurant coupons, items from handbag maker Vera Bradley, and gym memberships.
“It's a lot of work to put on a race,” Pedro said.
This year they are working to get the run sanctioned by the Fort Wayne Track Club. Registration forms will be available on the Formula for Life Facebook home page and will also be available on the Saint Francis web page.
The race starts at 1 p.m., with a complimentary lunch afterward. Live music and the silent auction start at 12:30 p.m. The cost is $15 per runner with a $12 family rate for three or more. There will be awards for different age groups, competitive runners and casual walkers. For more information contact Amy Obringer at AOBRINGER@sf.edu.