Matthews – Mint Hill Weekly
MATTHEWS – One local community is reaching across the Atlantic Ocean to lend a helping hand through a neighborhood fundraiser.
Deerfield Creek residents Erin Dummert and Keenan McGrath will host their second annual Deerfield Creek Spring Fling Fundraiser to benefit orphans in Africa on April 18, a Saturday, at the Deerfield Community Center from 3 to 7 p.m.
More than 200 people attended last year’s event, which raised $8,000 for the Amukura Orphanage, in Amukura, Kenya. The money went toward purchasing rabbits, supplies and building a rabbit hutch. The rabbits are used for husbandry, consumed and sold to pay for living expenses at the orphanage.
This year’s event proceeds will support a building fund and other short- and long-term endeavors. The current building is falling apart and lacks the space needed to adequately meet the demand for housing abandoned children in Amukura, according to Sister Lucy Marindany, president of Little Sisters Angel Fund and a Senior Sister with Little Sisters of St. Francis – the fundraising organization and indigenous African religious entity that runs the orphanage.
“The current building has had essential repairs to make it functional, but to continue doing so is similar to putting a bandage on a broken bone,” said Marindany, who is from Kenya. “We have made it livable, but our goal is to expand to accommodate more children.”
The Little Sisters of St. Francis had plans drawn for a building large enough to accommodate 50 children. It includes separate girls’ and boys’ dormitories, a room for infants, nursery, infirmary, community room, art room, a study, kitchen, cafeteria, bathrooms and a convent.
Dummert, Little Sisters Angel Fund vice president, said the building is estimated to cost more than $50,000. Other than Dummert donating approximately $2,000 per year from the sales from her Etsy business, Little Random Boutique, Little Sisters of St. Francis relies solely on the funds raised by Little Sisters Angel Fund.
Dummert was actively looking for a cause when a connection from her hometown, Milwaukee, contacted her for support.
“One woman, Sister Evelyn Nanyama from Little Sisters of St. Francis, was in a women’s group from my former church group,” Dummert said. “When we moved to Charlotte, a friend from St. Monica was doing a fundraiser for an African orphanage ran by Sister Lucy (Marindany).”
Dummert felt inspired and wanted to invest her time and energy into supporting these children.
“When you imagine two women caring for 23 to 25 children, mostly under the age of 5, with little funds and in dilapidated conditions, how can you not get involved?” she said.
Dummert shared stories of children being tied to doorknobs or left in the woods to starve and die, and how the tribal orders turn over the abandoned children to the Little Sisters of St. Francis to raise and educate without government assistance.
Moved by these stories, Dummert started doing small drives to raise money and collect supplies for the orphanage in 2013. Those food, medicine and diaper drives turned into raising money to keep the orphanage in operation.
“You just can’t stop and slow down,” she said. “These 20-plus kids are depending on you.”
Marindany and Dummert worked together to create Little Sisters Angel Fund to support Little Sisters of St. Francis’ work at Amukura Orphanage, as well as their work at Franciscan Brethren of St. Philip – a Virginia-based residential and day facility for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities.
Funds raised through the Deerfield Creek Spring Fling Fundraiser will be reserved for the Amukura Orphanage. The orphanage’s main priorities are short-term critical needs, such as fixing their broken stove; raising money for the building fund; and self-sufficiency by gardening and animal husbandry projects.
The Spring Fling costs $25 per family and includes free hot dogs from JJ’s Red Hots, drinks, beer, live entertainment, kids’ games, a strolling magician, face painting, a bounce house, vendor booths, a raffle and silent auction. Participants can meet Marindany and learn more about the orphanages, as well as read letters from the orphans.
“We, sisters, cannot do it by ourselves. We need others, and the Matthews community has come in handy,” Marindany said. “We are lucky to have them, and we hope this partnership will continue, so together we can continue to change lives of thousands upon thousands of kids whose future depends on the services of the sisters.”