COCONUT CREEK – With the start of a new school year, soon-to-be sweet 16 Rachel Wheeler has unveiled the next phase of her philanthropic journey to help the poor of Haiti with the South Florida-based Food For The Poor.
During her sophomore year at North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Rachel will work to motivate others to help her build safe, permanent Food For The Poor homes for 25 destitute families in K-Michel, Leogane, Haiti. Approximately 250 people live in the community of K-Michel, which was devastated during the 2010 earthquake.
“Everyone should have the opportunity for a dignified life; and that is not always the case for the poor,” said Rachel.
Rachel is already an accomplished fundraiser. During the past six years, her commitment to the charity’s cause has grown – just like the size of her fundraising projects. In total, she has inspired others to help build homes for 40 families, and a school for hundreds of children in Haiti.
This summer, the Lighthouse Point resident brought her friend, Isabella Marchitello, to tour Food For The Poor’s headquarters, and to meet the charity’s President/CEO Robin Mahfood.
“Rachel is a true friend to the poor,” said Mahfood. “Her journey to help the poor started when she asked questions during a Lighthouse Point Chamber meeting at Food For The Poor. Since then, it has been a privilege to watch Rachel grow into a confident young woman.”
Rachel has traveled three times to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake, and has witnessed how the charity’s house building-progress has been a blessing to the resilient people of Haiti.
Food For The Poor has built 11,559 double-unit homes in Haiti since 1995, and 5,505 of them since the earthquake.
“Five years later, families are still living in tents or structures made of zinc, tarps, and other discarded materials found in garbage dumps. Families and children live amongst the rubble, with no future prospects,” wrote Rachel on her Champion For The Poor web page.
“If you have a dream you follow it, and you don’t let anyone stand in your way,” said Rachel, who has received much well-deserved recognition for her ambitious goals.
In May 2011, Mahfood and news anchor Jorge Estevez traveled to Haiti with Rachel to inaugurate homes for 27 families in “Rachel’s Village” in Kay Piti, Leogane, Haiti.
Then in November 2011, 12-year-old Rachel returned to Rachel’s Village to be interviewed for a NBC Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment. Residents of the village greeted Rachel like their favorite daughter – clapping and singing songs of praise as the sound of musical instruments filled the air. While in Haiti, Rachel also met the students at L’Ecole Reap de Morel basic school, who soon received a new school thanks donors who were inspired by her determination.
In addition to being named one of the country’s top ten youth volunteers in the 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community Award competition that included more than 29,000 participants, Rachel also was recognized as one of America’s “Top 11 Kids Who Made A Difference In 2011” by The Huffington Post, and as a 2012 Huggable Hero of the year by Build-A-Bear Workshop.
To support Rachel’s building initiative, tax-deductible donations can be made through the charity’s secure website at www.FoodForThePoor.org/rachel. Donations can also be mailed to Food For The Poor at 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. Please make checks payable to Food For The Poor and include the source code “SC#107207” to accurately route your donation to the house-building effort.