When a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country of Haiti Jan. 12, 2010, Ken DeYoung watched in disbelief from the safety and comfort of his farmhouse near Laurens in northwest Iowa. "I knew I could send a check or I could get involved and do something that would truly make an impact," the Iowa farmer and airplane pilot recalls. "I chose involvement. It's what Iowans do when people are hurting."
Nearly two years later, DeYoung has flown more than 50 humanitarian missions to the Western Hemisphere's poorest country and joined other dedicated Iowans in creating the non-profit, Laurens-based Global Compassion Network (GCN). He's also one of a committed team of volunteers who gathered December 12, 2011 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines for a press conference to launch "Special Delivery: Homes, Help. Hope. For Haiti."
Reynolds and Northey co-chairing effort to provide homes, help & hope
The campaign, coordinated by the Iowa Food & Family Project (www.iowafoodandfamily.com), is co-chaired by Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. The campaign encourages Iowans, businesses and organizations to donate to the GCN for purchase of up to 48 SafeTHomes to be built in the Village of Hope. The 5-acre village in Haiti, established earlier this year by the GCN, provides transitional housing for families and children displaced by the earthquake.
The assistance is desperately needed. Haiti's population of nearly 10 million is more than three-times that of Iowa yet the country covers a land area only one-sixth the size of Iowa. Nearly 80% of Haitians live in poverty. The country's unemployment rate exceeds 40%. An estimated 600,000 people affected by the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti are still living in tents.
"Nearly two years after the earthquake, more than 1.6 million Haitians remain in dire need of shelter, help and hope," says Reynolds, who addressed the press conference yesterday at the State Capitol in Des Moines. "When you learn of their struggles, you're moved to act. Working together, we can make a real and positive impact in a way that's uniquely Iowa."
Grain bin maker Sukup has designed units that can house up to 10 people
If you've driven past the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines this past week and have seen what looks to be a grain bin constructed on the lawn, you saw one of these "grain bin" SafeTHomes on display.
The SafeTHome, designed by Brett Nelson of Sheffield-based Sukup Manufacturing Co., is ideal for use in Haiti. It measures 18-feet wide by 14-feet tall and is made entirely of metal, making it resistant to termites and moisture. Each home can sleep 10 or more and features a double-roofed system that displaces heat, two windows that can be locked from within and a water collection system. The SafeTHome can also withstand strong winds and is virtually earthquake proof. The cost of each unit is $5,700, has a life expectancy of 75 years and can be assembled on-site with simple hand tools.
"It's extremely gratifying to be part of this effort and for our employees to use their expertise in a way that serves a higher purpose," says Steve Sukup, the company's chief financial officer and vice president. "We believe in this product and the good that it can do for Haitians and the Village of Hope."
Companies & farm groups also providing much-needed food for Haiti
In addition to delivering the SafeTHomes to provide shelter, "Special Delivery" will provide much-needed food for the people of Haiti. The Iowa Soybean Association has pledged $1,000 per SafeTHome up to $48,000 for the purchase of Meals from the Heartland. The food packets contain soy protein, rice, vitamin powder and dried vegetables and will be distributed throughout the country.
"Soy protein is a proven, affordable and powerful source of nutrition," says ISA president Dean Coleman, a farmer from Humboldt. "Iowa's soybean growers are pleased to join Meals from the Heartland and the GCN in this tremendous service activity that showcases the best of our people and state."
Also pledging support to the "Special Delivery" campaign are the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Cargill Company's Iowa Region and Monsanto. In addition, the campaign is working to secure up to $1,000 per unit to pay for shipping costs and the construction of a concrete foundation for each home. The support will ensure that public donations to the "Special Delivery" campaign will be devoted entirely to the purchase of SafeTHomes.
"Special Delivery" is a great cause; would you like to make a contribution?
"We're truly blessed to live and work in a state that offers such abundance and prosperity," says Iowa Secretary of Ag Bill Northey, a Spirit Lake farmer. "Iowans aren't timid about lending a hand when others are hurting. This campaign provides the perfect opportunity to channel that passion and generosity in a way that will make a world of difference."
"Special Delivery: Homes, Help, Hope. For Haiti" runs through spring 2012. To make a donation to the GCN, log on to www.iowafoodandfamily.com or send to: GCN, Attention Special Delivery, 1066 440th St., Linn Grove, IA 50133. For more information about GCN's mission and activities, go to www.globalcompassionnet.org.
Terry Baxter, who works for GCN, adds: "We are providing an opportunity for compassionate individuals, civic organizations, churches, businesses or corporations to raise $5,700 per home. You can donate at our www.iowafoodandfamily.com website. It's easy to do, doesn't take much time."
The Iowa FFP (www.facebook.com/foodnfamilies) is a purpose-driven initiative created by the ISA and dedicated to inspiring greater awareness, understanding and trust between farmers and consumers. It involves nearly 30 dedicated and committed affiliates including commodity groups, food retailers, businesses, associations and food relief organizations.