History and Partnership with CMMH
For more information about Saint Vincent Centre, please visit http://stvincentshaiti.org.
Founded in 1945 by Sister Joan, a physical therapist and member of the Society of Saint Margaret, Saint Vincent Centre (SVC) is one of more than 250 institutions operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. Unique among all the valuable ministries in the diocese, Saint Vincent’s is the only school in Haiti which provides academic, clinical, and residential services for blind, deaf, physically disabled, and learning disabled children. At Saint Vincent’s, students learn to work with their disabilities while also studying reading, writing, history, geography, mathematics, English, art, and music.
The purpose of SVC is “to provide children with disabilities in Haiti special opportunities, support and resources to learn, grow and reach their full potential in their young life’s journey toward adulthood.” In addition to operating as both a day and residential school for blind, deaf, and handicapped children, SVC offers a variety of medical services to its students and the surrounding community. Services offered include: pediatrics, orthopedics, and physical therapy, as well as testing and treatment for those with hearing and/ or vision-related conditions. Prosthetic services are provided by a brace shop located on the Centre grounds.
At the end of 2015, Saint Vincent Centre had an enrollment of 363 students. Over 100 caring individuals serve as teachers, administrators, physicians, physical therapists, nurses, technicians, cooks, caretakers, and maintenance staff. It currently has an annual operating budget of $325,000. While Saint Vincent’s can serve only a small number of the estimated 500,000 disabled people in the country, it offers a model of care and education for others to replicate.
In the fall of 2015, The Rt. Rev. Jean-Zaché Duracin called for the formation of a new governing board to support the work of Saint Vincent Centre. Made up of members from both Haiti and the United States, the board is responsible for creating a strategic plan, setting policies, and providing oversight of all daily and long-term activities of SVC.
CMMH is represented on the SVC board by Ken Quigley, CMMH’s secretary/treasurer. CMMH is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in the United States, and has been supporting the work of SVC since its incorporation in 1993. In support of the new board, CMMH will continue to be the primary source of funds for the Centre’s operations, but it has also agreed to function as the fiscal agent for the Centre. All funds sent to Saint Vincent Centre by CMMH go directly to the Centre’s bank account in Port-au-Prince. Funds are used to pay salaries, buy food, electricity, and cover other operating expenses. CMMH receives regular financial reports from Saint Vincent’s detailing funds received and payments made.
“The new board will make a major and necessary difference in the coordination of support, long-term direction, and growth of the Centre,” Quigley says. “We are pleased to have been part of its formation and are delighted to continue as one of its key supporting organizations.”
SVC Board Approves Plans for Relocation
The powerful earthquake of January 12, 2010 took the lives of ten members of the community and destroyed most of the SVC complex. In the aftermath, the academic, administrative and residential facilities were relocated, and temporary structures were built to provide additional space. The medical clinic and brace shop remained in the original location. For several years, these two sites have been the home of Saint Vincent Centre.
In the fall of 2015, generous gifts from Dr. Mary White, Episcopal Relief and Development, and the Episcopal Church were used to purchase property for future development. Referred to as “Santo 17”, the seven-acre site is located in a suburb northeast of Port-au-Prince. Surrounded by a security wall, the new property includes a large house which can be converted into a residence hall, fruit trees, and farmable land. It also includes a swimming pool which can be adapted for physical therapy.
In June 2016, the SVC board of directors voted to proceed with renovations to the Santo 17 site. Construction plans include housing for residential students, kitchen facilities, classrooms, and administrative offices. Andy Ripp from MSAADA Architects estimates that students will be able to relocate within the next several months. The brace shop and clinic will continue in their current location downtown. A fundraising goal of $400,000 has been set to cover the cost of renovation, construction, equipment and furnishings at the new facility.
We are pleased to announce that CMMH has made a pledge of $100,000 to help SVC meet its fundraising goal. The hope is that our gift will kick-start the fundraising campaign and encourage others to support the future mission and ministry of Saint Vincent Centre. Your help is also needed to make this dream a reality, so we ask you to join us! All gifts are fully tax-deductible and will be managed by CMMH and the SVC Board of Directors.
SVC Welcomes Two New Staff Members
With financial support provided by CMMH, two new staff members have been hired to support SVC and the work of the SVC Governing Board. Aurélie Fièvre (Administrative Manager) lives in Port-au-Prince and will work with Fr. Frantz “Fanfan” Cole to manage the many operational and business details of SVC. She has a bachelor’s degree in law (University of Montreal), and a master’s degree in public administration (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City).
Jennifer S.T. Wickham (Development Coordinator) lives in Texas. Along with the Board of Directors, she is responsible for operational and capital fundraising, donor relations, communication, and coordinating partner relationships. She has over 25 years’ experience in program development, education, fundraising, and social outreach in both the U.S. and in Haiti. She holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies (University of Tulsa) and a master’s degree in sociology (University of Texas at San Antonio).
In addition, a new website will be launched on August 15th to help spread the word about SVC. Please visit http://stvincentshaiti.org for additional background, photos and information about Saint Vincent Centre.
All of us at CMMH were saddened to learn of the recent death of Joseph Jean Paul, also known as “Jojo.” He died on May 14, 2016 after a sudden illness. A resident of SVC for more than 50 years, Jojo was a pillar of the community. An extremely talented artist and outgoing presence on campus, Jojo exemplified the ministry and vision of Saint Vincent’s.
A celebration of life took place in Port-au-Prince on May 28. Dr. Susan Nelson attended the service and writes, “It was a privilege to be part of the mourning time with St Vincent’s children and staff. Many of the older staff have known Jojo for 30-40 years, and the children have known him all their lives…Please pray for the community at the school; they have lost their strongest advocate and their guardian. Jojo watched everyone who came into the school and knew who was supposed to be there and who wasn’t. Who will do this job now?” He will be missed by many.
A memorial fund has been set up at CMMH in his honor. This fund will be used for student expenses, scholarships and other operating costs of the Centre. You may make your tax-deductible contribution at the link below.
We appreciate your support, and we ask that you pray along with us for Jojo, his family, friends, and the entire Saint Vincent community.