ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Giving Tuesday – Reaching Beyond Our Borders

11.29.22 by Kyle Haskett
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Giving Tuesday – Reaching Beyond Our Borders

It is a truly wonderful time of year. The leaves are all changing colors, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and the weather is getting cooler.

As we move through the holiday season, many of us will turn our thoughts to thankfulness, gratefulness, and giving. For me, this usually means more family time. I am sure for some, family time is a crazy and stressful time if even achievable.

Finally, we come to Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday was started about a decade ago to return to a grateful mindset of giving back to those in need. As part of Giving Tuesday, we have a number of employees who have shared with me some of the ways they give back globally that we wanted to spotlight.

Pearl House Mission

Gene Phillips, a principal in our Tulsa office, has a passion for Pearl House. 

“Founded in 2012, Pearl House is a safe haven for girls in Ghana, Africa. In rural Ghana, young girls are often faced with two options: be married off or move to the city and struggle on the streets. Pearl House provides girls with education and vocational training aimed at helping them get out of poverty by building independence and preparing for a career. Most importantly, Pearl House is a place of safety, community, and Christian fellowship. Here, girls can find hope and inspiration. Pearl House helps them realize their value and empowers them to see their dreams become a reality through a support network of mentors and other like-minded girls.

“Donations help the Pearl House mission continue to manage and grow their four facilities: 

  • Pearl House - the living quarters that girls can call home
  • Pearl House Academy - providing quality education and Christain leadership training
  • Pearl Career Center - providing vocational training and life skills
  • Pearl House Haven - providing counseling and therapy as well as outreach 

“Pearl House protects, educates, and disciples at-risk young women in underserved communities around the world. We aim to empower them to change their families, their communities, and their nation. 

“‘We’ve built a place where girls from rural Ghana can grow up together. There is no poverty. No hunger. No fear of being married off or sent to survive on city streets. Instead, they are protected and loved. They are encouraged to thrive emotionally, academically and spiritually. And they are learning to dream about the difference they can make in the world.’

“In 2011, co-founder Courtney Bullard felt God calling her to build a home for girls in Ghana, Africa. It would be a refuge where the girls could be nurtured physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. And it would be called Pearl House, inspired by the words of Matthew 13:45-46: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.’

“In 2012, Courtney and her husband Steve found the woman who would live and work at Pearl House. Together, the team worked in the U.S. and Ghana to find the right space, the right staff, and the girls who would become our first ‘pearls.’”

In July 2013, Pearl House opened and became home to 20 diverse, incredible girls. Less than three years later, the group moved into a larger house to better accommodate staff and allow for more girls to join The Pearl House family. 

“Pearl House is a place where young girls have a safe place to call home and their basic needs are met as they are empowered to change their nation. They provide an environment for quality education in the community, preparing students to be Christian leaders in their communities and their nation. Pearl House Career Center provides vocational training to young women, equipping them with the professional and life skills they need to succeed. Their newest branch, Pearl House Haven, is “a Christian-counseling center offering group sessions, specialized therapy and more to our current and future Pearls, Academy students, and community members.” The Haven is equipped to provide transitional/emergency shelter for new and potential Pearls, as well as other young women in the community.” 

For more info please visit: https://thepearlhouse.org/

Ocean Academy

Gene Phillips has also served with Ocean Academy. Read below to find out more.

“Caye Caulker Island is off the east coast of Belize with only one settlement on the south end of the island. Before Ocean Academy, education on the island typically stopped at the elementary school level. Higher education could only be achieved by those who could afford to move to the mainland or commute. 

“Ocean Academy was started in February 2008 as the only high school on Caye Caulker by bringing teachers to live on the island. The land, start-up costs, and construction costs were all obtained through donations. Ocean Academy has evolved into OA’s SEaTIDE: Center for Social, Enterprise, Technology, Innovation, Development, and Education, which concentrates on creating innovators and change makers.

“Ocean Academy allows students to obtain an education with greatly subsidized education through scholarships, tuition bartering, and work-study opportunities. Students are taught core skills to build a better future with free tutoring, small class sizes, and one-on-one attention.

“The motto for Ocean Academy is ‘Preserving our Heritage, Creating our Future.’ The vision for the Ocean Academy is to create an environment where students are welcome to come and learn, regardless of their previous academic achievement or socioeconomic status.”

The classes offered at Ocean Academy include the basics like math, science, language arts, but they also include interdisciplinary subjects specific to the island industries. The personal education programs offer students preparation for high-paying local jobs and apprenticeships in business, offices, photography, and masonry.

For more info please visit: http://www.oceanacademy.education

La Gonâve Haiti Partners

Kurt Swensson, a principal in our Atlanta office, brings us our next charity with La Gonâve Haiti Partners, where he has served in the past. Read below to find out more about this organization.

“La Gonâve Partners has worked with the local Haitian island of Gonâve to improve access to healthcare, education, economic opportunity, sanitation, and clean water for nearly three decades. La Gonâve is an island west-northwest of Port-au-Prince in the gulf of Gonâve. It’s only about 37 miles long by nine miles wide and home to some 120,000 people.

“Their vision is ‘a future where everyone on la Gonâve experiences thriving, abundant life.’ The Americans work in direct partnership with Haitians, exchanging ideas and making decisions together on how to create strong, successful communities. They are guided by Christian values of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and bringing people to harmony with God and one another.

“Their mission is for Haitian and American partners to work side by side in mutually-transformative relationships, to build vibrant, hopeful, and resilient communities on the island.

“The partnership implements its mission by creating trust and mutuality because Haitian and American partners sit and listen and value each other’s insight building a community with dignity for all. Inherent dignity and the potential of every person is one of their core beliefs.

“La Gonâve partners are a faith-based partnership who are guided by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ: heal the sick, feed the hungry, and reconcile people to one another and to god. Everything the partners do, both Haitian and American, focuses on making decisions together and working alongside each other to bring their shared hopes to fruition.

“Donations to La Gonave Haiti Partners supports a range of initiatives designs to improve everyday life of all Hatians:

  • Healthcare: The mission supports a mobile clinic as well as the Bill Rice Community Health Center, which meets pharmaceutical and lab needs and provides overnight and labor and delivery care. 
  • Education - The mission supports (10) K-6 schools and an Adult Literacy program. Additionally, the organization provides 325,000 school lunches per year, which are often children’s only meal of the day. 
  • Life Skills - A two year vocational program teaches under-educated women marketable skills, such as sewing, embroidery, cooking, and flower arranging. The mission has also stated a gardening and composting program at all schools aimed at improving communities through sustainable gardening.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure - From solar panels to roof catchment systems and cisterns and improved latrine facilities, the mission is committed to helping communities with reliable power, water, and sanitation. Funds have also helped build schools, churches, and the clinic.

“The healthcare mission has the Bill Rice Community Health Center that provides pharmaceutical needs, laboratory needs and contains a small ward for overnight capacity as well as a labor delivery room. They also have a mobile clinic that travels once a week to provide local services to the partnering communities.

“The partnership also provides ten schools focusing mostly on kindergarten through sixth grade. These schools also provide approximately 325,000 lunches a year, many of which will be the sole meal of the day for the children. Adult Literacy has also been added since the community requested the addition in 2011, 800 adults have since participated.

“La Gonâve partners also have a two-year vocational program which aims to teach marketable skills to young women who could not finish their formal education. The women are taught skills range from sewing, embroidery, cooking, and flower-arranging. Most recently, the partnership started gardens at all ten schools which will produce food for the schools as well as teach students gardening skills and practices, as well as composting and the use of raised beds. The community will be able to take these lessons to create their own small gardens to assist families and provide a longer growing season.

“La Gonâve lastly has infrastructure emphasis to provide sustainable renewable energy to the communities. Solar panels provide the energy, roof catchment systems and cisterns are the best methods of adequate water supply. The partnership has been able to help improve latrines with better lighting, air-flow, and chemical treatment in their communities. The partnership has also been able to provide funds for all types of construction; school buildings, churches, the clinic, latrines, storage buildings, cisterns for storing rainwater, and teacher residents.”

To learn more please visit: https://lagonavepartners.org/

For the Love of Joe and Servant’s Heart Ministry

When Bob Anderson isn’t traveling around the country performing inspections and scope trips, you can find him traveling to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where his mission groups are changing lives.

“I’ve learned the faith of the poor is immeasurable. I learned that slavery is still alive in Haiti. I learned just how huge their hearts are. I learned we, as a super advanced society, are missing out on so much. I learned you can have nothing and still be happy. I learned I have new family friends there and I will forever be tied to that island.”

“For the Love of Joe and Servant’s Heart Ministry are feeding programs aimed at meeting the basic needs of underprivileged children. For the Love of Joe serves one village in Haiti, while Servant’s Heart Ministry supports three villages in the Dominican Republic.

“Already one of the most impoverished nations in the world, Haiti’s hardships have only grown since the 2010 earthquake and frequent hurricanes. At its core, For the Love of Joe provides 1800 meals per month to 150 children at a little more than 33 cents per meal. Additionally, the organization strives to improve communities through educational programs, construction of homes, schools, churches, and orphanages, and spreading God’s word. Recently, their efforts are helping the community farm native produce, such as mangoes and avocados, to supplement the food program.”

Through his work with For the Love of Joe, Bob has developed a deep fondness for the people of Haiti.Unfortunately, due to civil unrest, Bob and his mission team have been unable to visit Haiti in person. Still, For the Love of Joe continues to provide their services from afar.

“For the Love of Joe impacts and changes the lives of children in and around Bas Masson, Léogâne, Haiti, through missions by providing food and educational programs; sending, supporting and maintaining mission teams; construction; and the sponsoring of children in order to lead them to Christ and break the cycle of poverty.

Since the 2010 earthquake, little to no assistance has been given to a large portion of Haiti, already one of the world’s poorest nations. They are assisting and facilitating the helping of Haiti’s children. Their need is great. For the Love of Joe also helps with the food programs, equipment, tools, educational supplies, and personal hygiene items to children.   

“For the Love of Joe has five focal strategies

- Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord

- Promoting the establishment, growth, and maturing of churches

- Mobilizing other to missions

- Provide for construction of homes, schools, churches, and orphanages

- Provide food programs, equipment, educational supplies, and personal hygiene items to children

‘For the Love of Joe has a fundamental goal of implementing their focal strategies in various countries around the world to improve the lives of the local children. The promoting of the establishment, growth, and maturing churches is crucial to support an environment to spread Christianity in the area. 

“For the Love of Joe strives to develop a creative, consistent message to churches in the more remote areas where there is a lack of global missions currently. The next strategic point is to provide for construction and repair of local homes, schools, churches, and orphanages. Related to this is their last strategic point which is to provide food programs, equipment, educational supplies, and personal hygiene items to children. They want to have an impact on the children’s physical health as well.”

Due to civil unrest, Haiti has been particularly dangerous for foreign missionaries over the past few years. For more info, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/For-the-Love-of-Joe-542485295841049/

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude that we live in a world, while not perfect, has people who are working continuously trying to make it better for all. 

Happy Giving Tuesday!

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Kyle Haskett, PE


Kyle received both his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Structural Emphasis from the University of Oklahoma. He is…

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