Blowing Rock group Haiti-bound
Considering how brutal this winter has been in Blowing Rock, most folks would consider it a luxury to take not one, but two trips to the Caribbean. That's just what Lee Hyett and Ricky Coffey are doing this month, but they won't be sipping tropical drinks out of coconut shells while lounging in beach chairs.
Hyett and Coffey are members of the Blowing Rock non-profit organization Hearts Hands and Hope for Haiti. Last month, they spent 11 days in that poverty-stricken island nation, doing mission work with Phyllis Newby in the town of Saint Ard, 40 miles north of Port au Prince.
Upon hearing of this week's devastating earthquake in Haiti, Hyett and Coffey quickly booked a return trip to the island to help out anyway they can.
"Hearts Hands and Hope for Haiti has been operating here in the High Country for a year-and-a-half," Lee Hyett said. "It's an offshoot of a similar organization that I was involved with in Asheville. I've made 15 trips to Haiti in the past five years, and Rickey has been there multiple times over the past 23 years."
During Coffey and Hyett's Christmas mission trip last month, the pair brought clothes, food, Christmas gifts for children, a 10,000-pound Kubota tractor, two trucks, building materials and other essentials, much of it provided by Samaritan's Purse in Boone.
The pair brought the more than $200,000 worth of materials to the 10-acre compound run by Newby. On the compound, Newby maintains an orphanage, pastor training center/mission house and a small hospital.
"Miraculously, we were able to talk to Phyllis Newby 20 minutes after Tuesday's earthquake," Hyett said. "Soon after that, all cell phone service went down.
"Apparently there is a little damage to the mission house, and the Reformed Church of God lost one of its walls. Thankfully, there were no casualties at the compound."
Hyett and Coffey will return to Haiti on January 26.
"We've already booked the flight," Hyett said. "We plan to help with the cleanup and any other needs at the mission and surrounding area. Considering we just delivered a tractor, generators and trucks, we'll be in a good position to help. I'm sure those generators have already been put to good use, not even one day after the earthquake."
Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti had an epicenter some 10 miles west of Port Au Prince, the island's capital, that registered 7.0 on the Richter Scale, with several aftershocks reaching 5.5. The International Red Cross estimated on Wednesday that a third of the nation's 9 million population needs help.
Often described as the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, Haiti has little in the way of construction standards, making the devastation from the earthquake all the more formidable.
"Our organization is all volunteer," Hyett said. "The Lord has blessed what we are doing. It's a miracle that that stuff is already down there. So, we'll be ready to get to work right away."
For more information on Hearts Hands and Hope for Haiti, or to donate money toward the January trip to earthquake devastated Haiti, write to: Hearts Hands and Hope for Haiti, PO Box 1045, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605, or call Lee Hyett at (828) 265-6655, or Ricky Coffey at (828) 268-4835.