Mel was part of the first small group of volunteers who went to Haiti over 25 years ago to participate in a school building project. Returning on a regular basis ever since, he credits the successes and longevity of Joy and Hope to the spirit and strength of the Haitian people they serve and the amazing commitment of our many volunteers and Canadian partners such as Ontario Gleaners, Food for the Poor, and Home Hardware. Mel’s career was in advertising where he was President of the Canadian operations of a multi-national advertising agency. As a teenager, Mel’s daughter participated in a work mission to Haiti which influenced her decision to include International Development in her future studies. Mel’s sister, Marj, makes the dolls that inspired us to change our logo in 2017.
Russ is a graduate of McMaster University, the father of three wonderful young adults, and an entrepreneur in the metal casting industry. Taking part on a mission trip in 2002, Russ joined a group of caring people who had a passion for helping children in the third poorest country in the world and most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere: Haiti.
“My first experience opened my eyes and heart to the struggles of people outside of our sheltered reality in Canada. I was hooked!” he recalls as if it were yesterday. He’s since travelled to Haiti seven more times to oversee projects that are near and dear to him. As the Board’s Vice Chair, Russ says, “it’s through the efforts of caring people and generous gifts from others who have a heart to give of themselves that we can walk beside Haitians and help them change through the education and mentoring of their children. Sustainable change takes time and it will come by empowering Haiti’s youth. By building schools, funding teachers, teaching and feeding kids, and putting in place sustainable programs, The Joy and Hope of Haiti has become my passion.”
As an original board member of this dedicated charitable organization, it’s his sincere belief that we can see these children change the course of their future and that of their country. “Brighter days ahead!” Russ exclaims with a good natured laugh.
If you have a minute, Art will gladly take ten… and you’ll soon wish you had nothing else to do so you could listen to him talk all day. But more than talk, Art’s someone who really walks the way of the Lord, sharing God’s love lavishly with all whom he meets. A long-time friend of the Joy and Hope of Haiti, he’s the one guy everyone knows if they’ve ever been part of our nation-building work. Husband, father and grandfather, Art is a modern day saint putting others’ needs far in front of his own. Currently on a medical leave, please pray that Art returns to excellent health so he can continue to preach the gospel in words and deeds.
Cam is retired from an illustrious 36-year career in public service as a school board trustee, Ontario legislator and cabinet minister, and mayor of Burlington. Addressing local poverty needs Cam founded Burlington Food Share in 1989. He continues to develop and sustain food security programs in his city. A busy man, he is currently vice chair of the Toronto Foundation for Student Success which provides 170,000 nutritious snacks/meals to Toronto school children daily. Cam’s life-long commitment to child poverty issues took a major shift in 2016 when his friend Cal Shultz invited him to join a Haiti mission trip. “As Christians, we need to look carefully at what the Lord chooses to reveal to our hearts,” Cam says. And then with a wry smile he adds the kicker, “and then we must act upon our faith.” Knowing that the children of Haiti will touch your heart in a very special way, Cam is emphatic when he says “the Joy and Hope of Haiti is responding and sustaining more than just empty stomachs, it’s also confronting the issues of hungry minds, thirsty souls and helping to provide children with a future filled with joy and hope.”
A middle school teacher in the Niagara Region for 17 years, Nancy is passionate about making learning about real life. She believes education and faith in Christ changes lives, even more so after her first visit to Haiti last November. Having returned from a second visit where she got to visit schools, including one on top of a mountain that had to be reached on horseback, it continues to be an experience that fulfills her taste for adventure. Both the children and teachers in the Cap Haitian area have captured her heart, and she looks forward to partnering with them to influence a generation of Haitians as they rebuild their country.
“When you see broken beyond repair… I see healing beyond belief.” Jann’s first visit to Haiti opened her eyes and heart to the plight and despair of children and families living there. The impact was significant or, as Jann says herself, “beyond comprehension.” Jann believes that there is a purpose for everyone on God’s earth and that the people of Haiti are no exception. Moreover, she believes learning and application are the keys to rebuilding the Haitian mind, body and spirit so they can rebuild their world. Although many Haitians try desperately to prevail in a world that’s forgotten them, it’s the ones who continually persevere through adversity that calm Jann’s heart. “Haiti has possibilities and where others may see worthless, I see priceless,” says Jann with steadfast conviction. Jann resides in Waterdown with her husband, Joe, and her daughter, Kelsey.
As our long suffering project coordinator, Cal represents Joy and Hope’s “boots on the ground” and he ensures projects honour God. Married to Marci, they have four children and Haiti has become their family mission. Cal first went to Haiti in 2006 and fell in love with the children. Three years later, in obedience to God, he sold his business and dedicated his life to helping the poor. Becoming something of an expert in poverty and its interventions, Cal has worked in Asia, Africa, North America and Haiti. He commands respect from both funders and recipients alike because he’s really ‘been there and done that.’ Encouraging people to take control of and responsibility for themselves and their families, Cal guides with a strong and steady hand. Managed from abroad, Cal has the unenviable task to negotiate between Haitian, donors and well-meaning volunteers to ensure that our projects provide joy and hope to the people of Haiti. Cal has completed Charitable Organization leadership certification at Mohawk College.
After visiting Haiti in 1990 for the first time, Joan has been back at least once a year almost every year since. “My passion is to change Haiti by having Haitians discover Jesus and be transformed,” Joan says with delight. Joan is adored by the Haitians who appreciate her steadfast love and heartfelt prayers. Responding to the plight of many who live in Haiti and trying to reconcile that to the spirit that resides in all of us, Joan says she “looks at the light, not the lamp shade.” A retired nurse, Joan is married to Joy and Hope founder, Jim. They have two adult children.
“I HATE Haiti,” John wrote in his travel diary after first visiting the country on a mission trip. There, he witnessed first-hand the ongoing struggle between good and evil that’s been taking place for over 200 years. “You can literally see the spiritual warfare,” John adds. Quoting the Haitian writer, René Depestre, who wrote, ‘Your people were forged on the anvil of suffering,’ John — a father of four — sees his faith being forged on the anvil when he seeks to help the children of Haiti. “Although it’s the poorest country in the western hemisphere, in the kids we serve, I find Haiti very rich in possibility and promise,” John says with a gleeful smile.
Helen has traveled to Haiti to see our projects, and meet our Haitian partners first hand. About her experiences, she enthuses, “It is very gratifying to work with such a great team, and to experience the generosity of our community.” Helen is a computer programmer with over 30 years’ experience in Corporate Finance. Helen is indispensable to the gala and exclaims, “Auction Night is a blast!” So grateful for all her blessings, Helen is just as glad to give back. Helen is married with two adult children.