By Jennifer Taylor
In 2001, Northwest Haiti Christian Mission created its first “Miriam Center,” a home and therapy center for dozens of Haitian children with disabilities and special needs. In recent years, NWHCM partnered with other organizations, including AHomeInHaiti.org, to plan a second center to serve 100 more children. Two months ago the organizations raised $700,000 for the cause in 10 days.
“We had been moving forward with plans for a second center when Shaun King, lead pastor at Courageous Church in Atlanta, visited us and just fell in love with the special needs ministry,” says Cameron Mayhill, director of development. “He committed to help us raise the money to build the new campus.”
King had a connection to actress Eva Longoria and pitched the idea for an online auction called “TwitChange” which invited people to bid on the opportunity to connect with their favorite celebrities on Twitter. More than 160 celebrities signed on.
“People could bid on three things,” Mayhill says. “To be followed by a celebrity on Twitter, to be retweeted by that celebrity, or to be mentioned by them in a Twitter message. Some of the celebrities also included extra prizes like tickets, a personal phone call, or even a trip to Fiji. Other stars promised to double the gift by matching the winning bid.”
Businesses as well as individuals jumped at the chance for this unique promotion and the auction raised over $540,000 with more than $100,000 in additional donations. The Miriam Center, which will include both a church and school, plus homes and a physical therapy area, will cost about $1 million.
“Haiti is already a “˜least of these” country, and the poor and disabled are among the very least and the most forgotten,” Mayhill says. “Caring for them is Christ”s command on our lives and this has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference.”
The mission has already started clearing land for the new center and plans to open it in 2011.
Jennifer Taylor, one of Christian Standard”s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www.christianstandard.com.
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