What To Do For Haiti

As I posted earlier, most of my mission friends are now out of Haiti. Although two of their team are still at a hospital in the Caribbean. HPUMC will continue to update their site with the latest public information here.

I talked with Lila Foree for along time this morning. What an amazing story they have to tell. I am sure they will tell it when they are ready.

I’m just SO glad they’re home. A Facebook friend chided me a bit this morning for how much I’ve been posting about them, and it’s probably a good reminder. Yes, I’ve been to a clinic that was destroyed. Yes, my friends were gravely injured.

But thousands and thousands more are still trapped and/or dead. Many more will die in the coming days due to disease or lack of care.

Frankly, I must admit that I have not been able to watch much TV coverage of this tragedy. I’ve mostly been worrying about my friends, and am so relieved that they are safe.

But, early this morning, as I finally breathed out a long siiiighhhh of relief….something else quickly followed: Waves and waves of tears…sobbing tears…for the people of Haiti and for the scope of this disaster.

I still can’t look the TV coverage. I know it’s horrible.

So, after the tears stop, what do we do?

The first thing I will tell you is: GIVE MONEY.

Lot’s of it. As much as you can stand. Yes, I know, people say, “But they always just want my money.”

That’s not entirely true. Someday very soon, there will be a need for volunteers. And if you really want to go then, they can probably use you. But they don’t need your old sorority sweatshirt or dirty socks. Don’t send clothes. Please. I’ve seen bags of clothes, just rotting by the side of the road at some mission locations.

For right now, send cold hard cash.

After I push this point with people, they often follow with a second objection (After trying: “they just want my money”):

“But what if I get ripped off?”

So, let me quickly lay out a few principles of charitable giving for a time such as this (At least as I see it):

a) Loving others involves getting scammed from time to time
You give to an agency. You give a quarter to the guy in the parking lot. You make the effort. You build someone a house.

Then, they use the cash for drugs. They’re ungrateful for the new house. The agency you pick spends too much on overhead. Whatever. But it pisses you off.

But look here, and I mean this in all sincerity: the first rule about loving, of any kind, involves being willing to have your heart broken.

If you are unwilling to have your heart broken, do not give it away love. Keep it locked up. Keep it as safe as possible. Sure, you’ll be sad, lonely, pathetic, and by yourself, But, by God, you’ll be safe!

Hell, anybody whose ever loved knows that the closest people to you will eventually break your heart. That’s why forgiveness is always such a hotly debated topic.

So, if those you love most in the world will eventually let you down, what makes your favorite “do-gooder” organization won’t either?!! I mean, take your pick. It doesn’t matter if it’s secular or religious…government or private…any organization you love and attach your heart to will eventually break it. And then, you’ll be left to decide whether or not you want to keep connected to them, or whether you have to move on.

Love involves risk. Giving involves risk. Either be ready for it, or choose not to do it. But if you open yourself to the world, you’re gonna get hurt. That’s the way it works.

b) “Having Said That” (Thrown in especially for Larry David Show fans…)
No one deserves to get fooled time after time. If you think your favorite charity is scamming you, find a new one. If you think your favorite organization is leading you on, walk away.

c) There’s an App for That (OK…a website)
It’s called Charity Watch. They do nothing all day but “rate” charities. Check out your favorite charity there. It will help you put as much trust as you can into fallible, human and, by definition, flawed organizations.

d) I do have a favorite to recommend (I KNOW! I have an opinion…it’s so unusual… ;))
I have a favorite, and that’s the punchline of this blog. I alway do my charitable giving through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

UMCOR is one of the most well-respected aid agencies of any kind. Period. Not just *religious* organization, but any organization of any kind. Charity Watch rates it among it’s “Top Rated” agencies for “International Relief and Development” with the covted “A+ Rating.”

They work cooperatively with almost every other aid agency out there. They do not push their own “agenda.” They listen to local people.

The already-established structures of the United Methodist Church allow every cent of every dollar given to UMCOR to go even farther than in many other agencies.

The are top notch. And they are in Haiti now. In fact, top level folks with UMCOR were in Port Au Prince at the Hotel Montana when the quake hit. They were missing for severl days, and were only located last night.

The Hotel Montana was mostly destroyed in that earthquake. But I remember staying there several times, on our last nights before leaving the country. It was almost always packed with journalists, UN workers, Red Cross, other humanitarian workers, and almost always somebody from UMCOR.

They are always right in the midst of the world’s greatest disasters, because that is their calling as an agency, and our calling as a denomination. They are in Haiti now. They were there everyime I was there. And they will be there, long after the cameras pack up to go home (which they most assuredly will…)

Here’s video featuring a typical UMCOR program in Haiti from before the earthquake:

Our band has worked to support UMCOR for the past four years, raising tens of thousands of dollars for them.

As it would happen, our next show is at my church, this coming Friday, January 22nd.

As you might guess, we’ve decided to make UMCOR the beneficiary of the show. I can’t tell you how grateful that makes me. And I can’t tell you how eager I am to play that show. Every show we do raises needed money for mission “somewhere.” But this is mission I have seen with my own eyes…this will go to supplies I have actually used before….in clinics I dearly love…among people I actually know.

All our band will tell you that it is an incredible gift to be able to use the gift of music to raise money in a disaster like this. Even more so when you’re close to it.

So, if you are free, please come next Friday. Here are the details:

Connections “SuperHits of the 70s”
Friday, January 22nd, 7 pm
Northaven UMC
11211 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230

Here’s the official show posting at our band website.

Some of you may want to give right now. Please do. (In fact, give twice…today and next Friday!)

Here is the direct link to give online to Haiti Relief through UMCOR.

You won’t get ripped off by UMCOR. Promise.

And that will leave plenty of your heart to be broken by Haiti itself.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

4 thoughts on “What To Do For Haiti

  1. I have just heard the news that Jean Arwine, one of the team members, has died of complications from the collapse of the Petit Guave clinic. Don't know any more….and stunned. More later.

  2. Yet another update…the day after this news about Jean, we have learned that the head of UMCOR, internationally, Rev. Sam Dixon, was killed in the earthquake as well.He was staying at the Hotel Montana, a place on the hillside above PaP, and a place I recall staying on our way in/out of country on my trips there.This tragedy continues to unfold. And the death of Sam reminds us of just how seriously, just how passionately UMCOR is committed to being right in the middle of the world's most challenging moments of crisis.

  3. Our local schoolboard has partnered with Feed The Children, and on a quick google check I find Charity Watch listing them with such a bad rep that a google search for Charity Watch includes their Feed The Children page in the primary results!Only … when I then check with Charity Navigator, I find FTC rated highly, and even in the comments the worst they report is some concern over executive salaries (that are below what the School Board execs make ;)So NOW what? Who's telling the truth here? If CW has such damning evidence against FTC, why does CN rate them 4 stars? And where are CW's references?

  4. just to follow up that last comment of mine, check out the Discussion page on the Wikipedia entry for the AIP:Clever edits to this article by AIP proponents have frequently gone far beyond the characterization presented here, and have often violated WP:COI and WP:NPOV. Claims to the contrary are not supported by the evidence presented in the "History" section of this page. Their intent is clearly to "sanitize" and "spin" the language in a manner most favorable to AIP.really doesn't instill confidence in the org, now, does it.

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