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Haiti Earthquake – January 12, 2010

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January 12, 2010

7.0 Earthquake Rocks Haiti, Killing Hundreds of Thousands

It is with great sadness that we remember this Monday, January 12 the day a 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti taking the lives of approximately 250,00 people and devastating the lives of millions.  The quake, centered in Leogane just miles from Port-Au-Prince, flattened Leogane, destroyed much of Port-Au-Prince and the surrounding areas and even impacted Jacmel on the southern coast.

The Lord works in mysterious ways as evidenced by the outpouring of support from other nations and individuals as they rushed to help, putting their own lives at risk and promised financial support to repair the damage done in a mere 60 seconds.

All of us at Action By Christians for Haiti Inc., ask only one thing on January 12.  Take a moment or two out of your day and say a prayer; a prayer for the lost souls, a prayer for all those whose lives were changed forever by this tragedy, a prayer for all those who rushed to help and a prayer for all those who continue to help one of the world’s poorest nations.

The few pictures above tell just a part of that day, please copy and paste the link below and remind yourself of the devastation that took place on that awful day in the history of Haiti.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+of+haiti+earthquake&qpvt=images+of+haiti+earthquake

May the Good Lord continue to Bless you abundantly and keep you and your families safe from all harm.

 

A Very Blessed Christmas

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Jesus the Christ –  Savior of the World

As we patiently and thoughtfully await the celebration of the Birth of Our Lord all of us at Action By Christians for Haiti in concert with Fr. Nova of Our Lady of the Rosary and his people in Haiti, take this time to wish you all a very Blessed Christmas and to once again thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generous support this past year.

As I sit here in the White Mountains of Arizona, a gentle snow is falling, the Christmas tree is lit and the manger scene is on display under the tree – reminding us of the real reason of Christmas in the Christian Calendar.  As I look upon the manger I see shepherds and wise men bringing gifts to the Christ Child. I see shepherds giving the gift of their lowliness and service, the wise men bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, precious, expensive, gifts along with their adoration and service too.  He came to save all of us the lowly as well as those who have much.  Let us look upon these shepherds and wise men and give to Him, our Incarnate God, gifts from His Blessings to us.

As always you are in our prayers and will be remembered especially during Mass on Christmas Day.  May God continue to Bless you and your family abundantly!

Merry Christmas!

Art, Bea, Bernie, Pattie, Pat, Marianne, Elaine, Carol, Eric, Chris, and Mark

Advent – Now is the time for reflection on our blessings

 

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Thanksgiving has passed and we have entered the season of Advent, a time of reflection and  preparation to celebrate the Lord’s birth and to prepare ourselves not only for Christmas but for the time when Our Lord will call us individually home and hold us responsible for the lives He has blessed us with.  Whenever I reflect on my own personal death and judgment I can’t help but reflect on the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, versus 31-46.

The Judgment of the Nations

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne; and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

These are strong words to hear, there are only two choices, heaven or hell, and ultimately it is up to us to make the choice.  Do we choose to help those in need, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, or visit the ill and the imprisoned? 

Or do we choose to be selfish and ignore those in need, caring only for our own personal wants?  Forgetting the blessings we have come from God and not ourselves?  This is not meant to be a chastisement or to plant fear in your hearts but simply an opportunity to reflect on your blessings this past year.  Which category do you think you fall into and are you comfortable where you are?  The generosity from those of you who support our work in Haiti over whelms us and we thank each of you from the bottom of our hearts and as I’ve said many times, you are in our prayers daily.  None of this is possible without you.

Wishing you all the joys of the Holiday Season and hope you can find time in your busy, hectic schedules for yourselves, time to relax, time to find peace in your life, and time to reflect on your many blessings.

 

Art

Thanksgiving – a time to reflect

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In just a few days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a day set aside for praise and prayer to our God for the blessings He has granted us through the year as set forth by an executive proclamation in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln (see link below).  A time of family gathering, good food and joyful times; a time to reflect back on the year and realize how blessed we really are.  A time to look at what is going on in our world and wonder, “what can I do to make this world a safer and better place?’  And yes, we all have this responsibility.  Sitting back and doing nothing is really not an option for us.  As Christians we have the duty to be God’s hands and feet as well as His voice in our world.  So how do we do this?

We can start with our families, teaching our children about God and their responsibilities to others.  We can talk with our co-workers and friends and be a good Christian example to them.  Share with your family, co-workers, and friends the choices you make to help others.  When you are asked how was your weekend, don’t give the standard old answer, “okay!”  Tell them, we went to church on Sunday, or maybe you went and helped at one of the local shelters, or St. Vincent DePaul had a food drive and you donated – let them know you are doing good.  Not to brag, but to be a witness to what it means to be Christian – they will know us by our works.  And, when they want to know when you find time to do that with family, and work and chores around the house; tell them helping others is important to you and your family and you make the time because it’s important to you and those you help.  If they still wonder what they can do, let them know, if their life is so busy, they can find a charity that does help others and make a regular financial contribution.  Oh, they’ll say I don’t have money for that and of course you can always come back that if they look at their spending and see how much is wasted it wouldn’t take much to come up with a monthly contribution of say $20.  Sometimes people just need to look outside the box and get an idea what others are doing.

So, as we prepare for the Thanksgiving weekend, count your blessings, make an effort to increase your help to those in need.  Pray for those in need, help physically where you can, and find a charity that supports programs you think are important and if you had the chance would want to participate in.  Just one word of caution – make sure if you are making a financial contribution that your money is going to support the people and programs you intend them to be used for.

All of us at ABC for Haiti wish you and your family a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving, may your table be filled with a cornucopia of food, your home filled with the sound of laughter, and may you all take a moment to give praise and thanks to our God for His blessings and to remember those in need.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

To donate now click here:  http://abcforhaiti.org/donate/

 

Third World

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Ebola Victim                                                                                                   Trash

       haiti_1846096b[1]                                                                        Earthquake Haiti 2010

            Have you ever been to what we in this country and other “developed” countries around the world call the “third world”?  I’d suggest that most of us would answer, No!  Understandably, Third World nations are not places that the Travel Agents of the world have on their radar screens at all.  Third World countries do not have what we’ve come to expect as normal accommodations for travelers, chances are that they don’t even have electric service, you certainly can’t drink the water, roads are more like cow paths, no sewers to carry away waste, certainly no garbage collection (there is no garbage only a few scattered pieces of plastic bag floating around), food is scarce, meat and poultry for example lay along the side of the road where they’ve just been slaughtered, pieces will be sold before the sun goes down, so there’s no refrigeration, sanitation is pretty much non-existent.

            In other words, people in Third World nations have little or nothing that we take for granted, including food, water, shelter, health care and clothing; education is hit and miss; students must share books and they would be lucky to have a single piece of paper between them.

            We see our evening television news, or hear the world news on radio or read the morning newspaper and see events like the spread of Ebola (which is not new at all) and wonder how “those” people got it, spread it and live with it.  Disease of course knows no borders it only attacks what it can no matter where it might be.  So some of us wonder what might possess a person to volunteer to go to East Africa and help; why would they put themselves at risk?  Or why would someone go to Haiti after an earthquake and dig bodies out from under the rubble?

            I’ll give you a one word answer; it’s always the “PEOPLE”.  Those of us who have been to such places would tell you in a heartbeat, it’s the people.  People who live in that “third world”; have so little and share so much that they grab your heart and pull at your mind.  Once you’ve been there, it’s nearly impossible to get them out of your thoughts.  Yet like Jesus once said, “you believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen but believe”.

            Blessed also are those who continue to support the efforts of ABC for Haiti and have not yet been to Haiti.  You might also consider travel this coming February and see first-hand for yourself why we continue this work of love.

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Deacon Bernie Filzen

Vice President

ABC for Haiti

 

(Deacon Bernie and his wife Pat have been helping the poor in Haiti for over 30 years.  We are honored to have him as an officer and board member for ABC for Haiti.)

 

Haitian Food

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Digging the Water Closet                                                                      Stalls Under Construction

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School children with Diri Ak Pwa

Before we get into the nitty gritty of fine Haitian Food just an update on how things are going in the parish.  As you can see by the pictures the children are back in school and the water closet or as we know it the rest rooms are nearly 100% complete and are available for use – just minor last minute details to finish up.  You may not think this is such a big deal, but believe me it is.  We take sanitation for granted, in Haiti nothing is taken for granted and to have a proper place to take care of your business and a place to wash your hands is a very big deal.  It’s one of the most important things they can do to prevent disease.

We are also in the planning stages of spending a couple of weeks in late February to early March at the parish doing a little work.  We will be painting the inside of the classrooms, trying to improve the environment for both students and teachers.  We will not only as a group from the states work on this project but will employ parents of the children to help us.  As always when we have projects we try to get the parents or others in the parish involved to let them know we are a helping hand and not a hand out.  We want them to own and be proud of what is going on in their families and parish.

Now – take a second look at the photo above of the little one with the delicious looking plate of rice and beans, in Haitian Creole – Diri-ak-pwa.  Take some time and try making a batch – it’s quite tasty and filling; add a little goat meat and some veggies and you’ve got a very satisfying meal.  Okay, so maybe goat meat is out of the question – it is a little expensive here in the states, but some nice grilled chicken also goes very well; unfortunately for these children and their families; most of the time the meal consists only of the rice and beans.

Here is the recipe for this staple of Haitian life – want to experience just a slight taste of their diet – make enough to last the week and eat it every day.  Of course, you’ll have the luxury of keeping the left overs in the fridge and reheating them in the microwave instead of having to make a new pot each day.

Oh yeah, when your family. Friends or co-workers want to know why you are eating Diri-ak-pwa every day tell them about us and ask them to join our family in support of the poorest of the poor in Haiti; better yet, invite them over for a meal of Diri Ak Pwa and grilled poul (chicken).  It’ll give you a great chance to sit and chat about why you feel serving the poor is such a wonderful opportunity and blessing.

God Bless

Art

Haitian Diri Ak Pwa

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 cups red kidney beans, cooked (canned okay, drain first)

1 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons oregano

1 bay leaf

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 3/4 cups water (or stock)

Directions

1.  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper, sauté until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.  Add tomato sauce, beans, and herbs.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes to meld flavors.

2.  Stir in the rice, sock or water, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover tightly and simmer for 15-18 minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and let set covered for another 5-10 minutes.  Then stir lightly with a fork and serve.

Bon Apeti !

                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Another New School Year Begins

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Action by Christians for Haiti is excited about several new programs to make the school year most rewarding for children, teachers, and pastor!

Just like here in the states and around the globe, another new school year begins at Our Lady of the Rosary.  Children and parents will be doing the best they can to prepare for school which is scheduled to start September 8 and  most children  of Our Lady of the Rosary I am sure are eager to get back to their studies.

We at ABC for Haiti are also eager for them to return.  We have been able to fund several new projects that we hope will help make their 2014-2015 school year a pleasant experience.

First, we have funded the building of a water closet, in our terminology a rest room, actually an outhouse.  Yes, a rest room.  Don’t forget, indoor plumbing is not very common in the rural areas of Haiti where we do our work.  So, it was very important to be able to provide a water closet that will consist of 6 stalls, 4 for the children and 2 for the teachers.   Water will be available for washing of hands for sanitary purposes.

Second, we have been able to fund our second increase in teacher salaries bringing their salary to a competitive level with other teachers.  This will enable Fr. Nova to insure he has qualified teachers and know his children are receiving the best education possible.

Third, we have also funded the salary for a secretary for Fr. Nova.  You would be hard pressed to imagine how busy and exhausting a day the pastor has trying to maintain the parish, provide support for his people, and to keep up with his professorial duties assigned by the Bishop.  Not to mention praying and preparing for Mass and the sacraments as well as keeping in touch with and serving the 3 chapels also assigned to him.  A secretary will be quite the blessing.

Fourth and very important indeed, we were able to add an additional 13 children to our sponsorship program bringing the total of children sponsored for elementary education at the parish to 40.

Last but not least, we are putting together a working mission trip to Our Lady of the Rosary for sometime in February to paint the classrooms at the parish school.  More details will follow as soon as they are worked out.  Start thinking today – maybe you would like to make the trip with us?

Mèsi Bondye pou générosité ou

Art

 

Service to the Poor in Haiti

 

 

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Service to the Poor in Haiti

As we enter our 5th year of service to the poor in Haiti, I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all of you for your continued support and trust.   People are very skeptical of what happens to the monies they donate, where do they actually go, are they really being used for the good for which they were intended or are they being siphoned off by corrupt individuals or being used to pay off corrupt government officials whose sole purpose is to enrich their own lives and not the lives of the people they have been elected to serve?  These are hard questions and they tend to harden our hearts, and to close our purse strings.  And who can blame anyone – it’s all we seem to hear or read about.  But I remind you dear friends these stories and instances are a small part of what happens.  There are still many good people and organizations that are doing good work in your neighborhoods and around the world.

We encourage you; don’t let these negative stories have an effect on your generosity toward others.  Be cautious, research the organizations you wish to donate to, don’t take for granted just because they are a major organization that your money is being used wisely.  Don’t assume either that just because an organization is small or fairly new that your money is being wasted.  Make sure the organization and their mission is not only what you wish to support but that they are indeed a registered not-for profit organization and that depending on your tax status, your donation may be tax deductible.  Just because an organization helps others does not necessarily mean they have required the proper governmental approval for tax deductible status.

As a quick example, I received a phone solicitation one evening and the cause seemed like one I could support.  When I was asked to stay on the line and someone would get with me to collect my information, I realized I had not asked a very important question.  When the person came on the line I asked them what percentage of my donation would actually go to the cause I was willing to support?  The reply; 15%, that’s correct only 15% of my donation would go to this cause.  I politely told her I would not support them based on this fact.

One of the things we at ABC for Haiti are proud of is our ability to insure 95+% of your support goes directly to the people we serve.  Very little is spent on administrative products.  Our activities and our travels are all paid by the individual; we don’t take one penny to support these activities.  Yes, it is a burden on us but it is part of our commitment to keep our cost down and also a means of keeping us connected to our work – one doesn’t spend his personal finances on something that is not beneficial – serving the poor has its blessings.

We need your help!  In order for any organization to be successful it must grow and I’m not ashamed to admit this has not been a banner year so far.  There is much work to be done in the parish and to help educate, feed, and improve the health of the people we serve.  To do this we need two areas of growth, one, we need at least another 50 good souls to sign on as monthly donors with a minimum of $20 per month.  Second, we need more people who out of the goodness of their heart will make a one time or sporadic significant donations during the year to help our cause.  The monthly donors help us maintain the everyday parish life and the one time or sporadic donors help us fund the special projects.  For those of you who sponsor children for school now is the perfect time to send in your $59 donation.  Donate by clicking on programs above and choosing School Tuition Program.

How can you help?  Talk to your family, friends and co-workers about us and help them understand we are an organization you support and hope they will follow your lead.  Ask your employer if they have matching contributions, it’s a great way to increase your donation and it’s a very simple process for us to provide the information they need.  Our team is always willing to talk to any group of interested persons, whether it is a group of people gathered at your home, an organization you belong to or even your employer.  Lastly, take a look at your donation, your situation, is it possible you have room in your budget to increase your current donation?

We’ve been on the radio, on an early morning news show, and in several local papers.  There is nothing like a personal testimony from you and a meeting with us to help others understand the need and to have a close personal relationship with a group they are happy to support.

As always you are all in our daily prayers and we are sincerely thankful for your support and trust as we look forward to another year serving God’s poor in Haiti.

God Bless all you do!

Art

Next week – A New School Year Begins

 

Generosity – it’s benefits – a Scriptural Reflection

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Reflecting on the benefits of our generosity.

Last week we talked about the spirit of generosity and making the choice to be generous and not only generous but to consider whether our generosity comes from our means (basically our excess) or from beyond our means (even though it appears as if we are unable to give – can we share some of what we have?).  This week I would like to share with you what St. Paul tells us about  the benefits of our giving.

As human being we tend to look for “what is in it for me” when we do something for someone else.  It’s a natural instinct.  I use our work place as a prime example – we need to work for a living and I would imagine most of us expect to be rewarded, usually financially, when we take the time to not only do our jobs and do them well but to improve our worth to the company.  Having done so we expect a new position, possibly a raise etc.  It’s what we do and it’s what we’ve come to expect.  Naturally I think we tend to carry over this attitude in all aspects of our daily life.

Our giving has its rewards also.  Again I refer to St. Paul in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 9:6-8:

“The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.”

Now I don’t want anyone to think God will provide you dollar for dollar what you offer to help someone else.  Scripture says; “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance…”  He provides His blessings according to your needs.  Only God knows what we truly need and if we are generous, loving, and kind toward each other we can rely on Him to fill those things of which we are in need, whether they be financial, spiritual, or physical.  The point is this: be open to the blessings He will reward you with for your generosity.  For St. Paul goes on to tell us in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 9:11-15:

“You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God: for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God.  Under the test of this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others; while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”

I ask you; think about those times when you have been generous.  I would bet if you looked back and took notice you would also recognize blessings which were shortly brought upon you in your time of need.  In Haiti, we help the poor with clean, healthy water, education at the elementary and university levels as well as life skills training in the trade school and we provide a monthly stipend to the parish for everyday business.  They in turn keep us in their prayers and we are, whether we recognize it or not are abundantly blessed.

I quote St. Paul; “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  You!

Generosity – a choice

Mom and Children                                                                       StPaul[1]        

As we quickly approach our 4th Anniversary I would like to take this time to first thank each of you for your continued generosity in helping the poor in Haiti and second I would like to also take this time to reflect on scripture concerning generosity. 

In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 8:1-4 we read – “We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedo’nia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part.  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…”

 In this passage St. Paul is writing to the Corinthians a very wealthy people about the generosity of the Macedonians a not so wealthy people and the Christ-like way in which they, of their own free will, desired to help in taking part in the relief of the saints, another term for other Christians, Christians in need.  Despite their current conditions they recognized the need to be Christian in all things and part of being Christian means to take care of each other no matter the situation.  Paul tells us they gave of their means, and beyond their means, in other words they didn’t just give of their excess or because they were better off than others, there were many who had little and gave of it, recognizing even the little they had was a gift from God and was meant to share. They were being generous with the gifts they had received.  

Paul goes on to encourage and maybe even stir a little rivalry between the two churches, knowing Corinth has been abundantly blessed he has made it his place to remind them of their promise to help and to encourage them to keep that promise.  Not because he is trying to force them into charitable giving but to invite them.  Invite them to be like their brothers and sisters in Macedo’nia to give of their free will because it is the Christian thing to do and to do it liberally, giving of their means and even beyond their means.

I can just imagine St. Paul, understanding the human condition as he did, thinking he probably needs to be ready to answer those who will say, and I dare say, we hear this today; “Why should I give to others, why should I give what I have rightly earned to raise someone else up especially someone from a foreign land.  What will I get in return?  Yes, I suspect 2000+ years ago the same attitudes persisted among those who had.  I fear even then, as today they/we don’t realize how true the old adage; “there but for the Grace of God go I.”  That’s right they and we tend to forget the blessings we have come from God and are to be shared with those who are not so blessed.  Paul was ready and actually prepared a pre-emptive strike to this attitude.

“I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality.  As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over and he who gathered little had no lack.”  (2 Corinthians, Chapter 8:13-15) 

What can the people of Haiti, specifically Our Lady of the Rosary Parish give me of their abundance?  Let me tell you what they have to offer is not tangible.  Having been there several times now the greatest gift I receive in being there is their warmth, their happiness in seeing me, their hospitality when I visit their humble homes.  You are always asked to sit, stay awhile, and they will offer what they have.  Unfortunately because of the conditions I have to turn down their offers of food and drink.  The hugs, the handshakes, the children playing all around you are a joy, and we know the pastor Fr. Nova encourages them to pray for us.  Fr. Nova remembers us at Mass.  What more can you ask for from someone who has so little but is filled with joy, cares and loves you for your help, and offers prayers for you?  When you realize the poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere are praying for you it is worth more than any amount of money you could ever receive.

Next week – Generosity – it’s benefits

Don’t forget to tell your family and friends about us and why you support our cause! 

God Bless all you do

Art