Caledonia community doing so much for Haitian survivors
By Audrey Alfson
Special for the Argus
Editor’s note: This is the second article about Caledonia native Amy (Kruckow) Heaney, who has made seven relief mission trips to the Central American island of Haiti. The 2000 graduate of Caledonia Area High School, is the daughter of Fred and Vicki Kruckow of Caledonia.
For Amy (Kruckow) Heaney, a 2010 trip to Haiti after a devastating earthquake has become a life passion to help others. Her passion has led her to create a non-profit, Lavi, which means “Life” in Creole – the language spoken in Haiti. According to Heaney, “Lavi (Life) is dedicated to supporting community growth. Our mission is to empower people while embracing their community through growth in education, medical outreach, and sustainability.” Through her non-profit, she works with other organizations around the world to provide services in Haiti.
The mission teams she organizes, as highlighted in last week’s Argus, are formed from applications Heaney receives from people across the country who want to serve. The most she can take on a mission is 32 people; an ideal number is 20. She has far more applicants than spots. Those who don’t or can’t make the trip to Haiti can give in many other ways. Heaney is consistently impressed by the creativity and generosity of people across the country, especially those in her own backyard.
Medical supplies are all donated from either the manufacturer or Mayo Medical Missions Warehouse. Medications are purchased with money raised through team members. All other expenses, however, are paid for directly by volunteers, donations from individuals and fundraisers.
Caledonia has consistently been one of the biggest supporters of her work in Haiti.
“Hats for Haiti” is a major contributor to the relief effort. This event asks students to “pay” for the right to wear their hats during school. On a given day, participating students pay $2 for the privilege of wearing a hat. The proceeds benefit Haiti. Caledonia schools, specifically, have taken a huge interest in this project, raising almost $2,000 – well more than the 37 other private and public schools who participated across the country. Lavi is proud to say that 100 percent of that went directly to the kids of Haiti.
“Lilies of the Field” is their newest program to provide girls with dresses, inspired by St. John’s Lutheran Church in Caledonia. So far, St. John’s Women have made and donated over 400 dresses and shorts. The pillowcase dress design is simple and economical; anyone with basic sewing skills can turn an inexpensive pillow case into a lovely and much needed dress for a little girl. This makes a great project for an individual, church or 4-H group, sewing circle, or just a group of friends that want to bless some very deserving little girls.
In addition, St. John’s Lutheran Church has also inspired Lavi to create a project called “Ten Toes Deep” through which church members collect new shoes for kids in Haiti. St. John’s alone has donated over 500 shoes so far.
Even amidst Haiti’s ongoing struggles there is hope and progress. Heaney said she has learned that helping others brings out the best in ourselves.
Heaney is grateful to all those who have contributed to the needs of Haiti. She hopes we all find ways to “pay it forward,” saying, “It’s there in all of us, just waiting to be tapped into!”
If you have a creative way to contribute to the relief effort in Haiti go to www.lavi-life.org or www.payitforwardhaiti.wordpress.com