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IN THE BEGINNING...

 

In the late 60's Don DeHart was working full time heavy construction (highway and subdivision) while pastoring small country churches for free in rural Indiana. As his career advanced, he found himself in management of what became a multimillion dollar construction company, while maintaining his volunteer services to country churches. It became more and more discouraging to preach and teach about tithing and contributions and then, in the meetings of the churches, listen to the congregation vote to spend the money on their own personal creature comforts. After sharing these feelings with a fellow minister, Don was encouraged to go on a mission trip to Haiti where he could have more time to commune with God and reestablish his priorities.

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The winter of 1968-69 Don cleaned out the savings, took all the shots and gathered contributions of items he had been asked to bring. He took a manual typewriter, filled all the nooks with ball point pens and all sorts of medications from his and other physicians. Off he went to build a youth camp to get children of a remote village out of the town during Mardi Gras. His first "breakdown" experience in Haiti involved fixing an oil line with one of the barrels of the ball point pens so they could get out to the village after the truck broke down on the National Road. He quickly learned that you have to be a "make do" person in Haiti. Improvising = survival.

Using a brace and bit to drill holes and wooden dowels to peg things together, cutting wood with a machette and eating sugar cane with the local workers for lunch, Don lost a lot of weight, had plenty of physical challenges and gained a whole new perspective -- he also left a big part of his heart in Haiti and was never able to walk away from helping these poor people.

Even during times of battling cancer, somehow the Lord provided the funds to keep the programs in Haiti going. In the early 80's the DeHarts were hired to leave Indiana for Florida to work as an administrative team for a developer. Thinking this was a great way for God to get them closer to the mission field (little did they know the real plan) they closed their business, loaded up a truck and moved to Florida.

For Haiti with Love, inc. was born sitting on the balcony of a rented home in Palm Harbor with Mac Barksdale. Dr. Barksdale is a veterinarian from Orlando who was a contact from the Indiana days. Dr. Mac had the contacts to get the initial printing accomplished -- yellow paper -- horrors! But it was free. Once we realized the value of black on yellow, it is still our colors. Eva had the expertise through years of working in a law office to make the contacts and handle the reserving of the name and incorporation papers for the nonprofit. One of those part time jobs had been with H & R Block, so she also filed for the 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service and in 1982 For Haiti with Love became an active charity.

The first official tax-deductible gift was a $50 check from Don's cousin, Jim Crowley, in Indiana, who still writes a monthly check today. To get the 200 minimum for a nonprofit bulk rate permit for a monthly newsletter, the DeHarts took their Christmas card list and used the directory from the Community United Methodist Church with their permission.

The developer reneged on his deal, the DeHarts were left without jobs and began using the "stuff" they brought with them for survival by selling all they could sell. Finally, after trying all sorts of things personally that didn't work, taking turns with part time jobs and getting to Haiti with a volunteer pilot who had his own plane and a heart for Haiti, they finally surrendered in prayer, "okay, Lord, everything is working for your part of this, nothing for us, so we are yours, Haiti is the priority, where do we go from here?"

Don was "free at last" to pursue the burden that had been on his heart since the late 60's, to dedicate his life completely to helping the needy in Haiti. Using his medical background that has been enhanced by working shoulder to shoulder with volunteer doctors in Haiti, his construction experience gained from a family of construction people, his pastoral training (which he earned mostly through night school), God had equipped him for the field. Eva's gifts to this Lord's work include education in accounting, years of working in law offices, the love of writing and the willingness to be one of God's beggars for both needed supplies and funding.

For Haiti with Love, inc. is a faith mission. No bigger barns, just do next month what the contributions this month provide. Today there is (1) food program providing nutritionally balanced meals to the hungry, (2) formula for babies with no mothers or mothers without breast milk, (3) construction program that has completed churches, schools, marketplaces in 6 villages, over 50 homes for the homeless and (4) medical program providing 24-hour emergency medical care for the poor. As funding permits, there is also funding for tuitions for the school of choice, funerals, x-rays and other medical needs from doctors and hospitals that charge and, of course, the poor box by the door for the elderly. Used clothing in excellent shape is used as packing material and distributed primarily to the burn patients who have lost everything in a home fire. When the budget permits, their home is either repaired or rebuilt and they are put on the food program during their recuperation period. Everything is done as a gift from God through His people, every recipient is very aware that they thank God for their help.

The Board of Directors offer medical advice and volunteer for the clinic, computer guru, another seeks out items for the fund-raiser in August and contributors now come from the USA, Canada, Wales, Australia Italy, Sweden and England.

Won't you help?