Woman raising money to help Haitian refugees

Peggy Revell

A Fort Frances resident is aiming to raise money to help Haitian refugees as part of a humanitarian trip she will be taking to the Dominican Republic in August.
“I always wanted to do something like this,” said Jacki Geravelis-Houghton, a server and supervisor at Boston Pizza here, who will be joining other BP employees from across Canada for a week-long trip to the Dominican Republic, where they will be building either housing, an orphanage, or another needed building for Haitian refugees there.
Which is why, when the paperwork for employees to sign up for the “Boston Pizza Hero Holiday” trip arrived, Geravelis-Houghton decided she had to “stop thinking about doing these things and actually do it.”
“And my mom passed away in December and I’ll actually be there on her birthday, so it’s going to be an annual thing for myself to do something in memory of her on her birthday every year,” she reasoned.
Geravelis-Houghton has set a fundraising goal of $1,500 for the trip, which will take place Aug. 7-14.
“Which I think is really a pretty realistic goal—people are pretty generous in Fort Frances,” she remarked, noting she will be using her own money to cover airfare for the trip.
The $1,500 raised will go to cover both accommodations and the building materials for the projects they’ll be working on there.
As part of her fundraising effort, Geravelis-Houghton is organizing a community yard sale at Boston Pizza on May 28 starting at 9 a.m.
She’ll have her own table to raise money while, for a $20 donation, other people can rent their own table to sell items.
As well, staff at Boston Pizza will be having a “dress down” day every Wednesday, with money raised also going towards the trip.
Other fundraisers also are in the works.
“It sounds really cheesy and clichéd but I want to help change someone’s life,” said Geravelis-Houghton.
“I’ve had a pretty comfortable upbringing, and I want to step outside of my comfort zone,” she stressed.
Besides helping to construct one of the buildings, participants also will be visiting an orphanage one day and then another day be actually scavenging in a garbage dump, Geravelis-Houghton noted.
“What a lot of the refugees do is go through garbage dumps to find metal to sell, and that’s their income,” she explained.
“And so we’ll go and do that.”
She reasoned it’s a lesson on perspective “to see how, even though when I think life sucks and I don’t have a lot of stuff, to see that there are people that have way less than I do.”
To make donations, or to book a table for the yard sale, contact Geravelis-Houghton at 1-807-707-0779.