It was the end of the evening when Jamie Schlegel shared his gratitude for all the many sponsors and golfers who made the inaugural Tee Up for Haiti golf tournament on Sept. 14 a fundraising success. He spoke of the pride he felt to be connected to community partners who over the past six years have helped raise more than $250,000 in support of Fonkoze’s Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) program. The lives of some of Haiti’s most marginalized families have been greatly enhanced thanks to their generosity and the ongoing work of CLM.
He then spoke of a deeper, personal connection to the people of Haiti and how fundraising efforts over the past six years honours the legacy of his late grandparents, whose generosity of spirit continues to influence the Schlegel family’s philosophy to this day.
His grandfather Wilfred, Jamie explained, was taken from this life at far too young an age. He was 68 when he died, yet he suffered a major heart attack and subsequent heart failure at 64. He was deemed palliative not long after that catastrophic incident and his doctors took him off the many medications they were using to try and stave off death. There was little hope in their minds.
The next day, however, rather than succumb he began to improve.
“He actually recovered quite amazingly,” Jamie shared. “It was really a miracle – he was discharged from the hospital three weeks later after being deemed palliative.”
He was never a man to sit still, Wilfred Schlegel, and rather than ease past the frightening brush with death and relax with the time he had left, he and his wife Emma chose to travel to Haiti where they helped fund and build an orphanage in the country’s largest city, Port-au-Prince.
“That was grandpa’s and grandma’s last service trip together,” Jaime said, “and he passed away a few years later.
“It’s personal for our family” Jamie concluded, speaking of the current efforts to support some of the poorest of the poor in Haiti through CLM. “We’re so grateful for the Haiti ambassadors who are continuing the work that grandpa and grandma started when he was given that second lease on life and the miracle happened to keep him alive.”
In 2014 and 2016, two separate groups of volunteers from Schlegel Villages travelled to Haiti to lend their support to CLM and other Haitian organizations. Another group will arrive in Haiti in early 2018. On these trips, the ambassadors learn as much as they give and they return having built a deeper connection to the neighbours in Haiti that Schlegel Villages is so proud to walk alongside.
“Our mission, as an organization, is to build caring communities with emphasis on optimal health and life purpose for each individual,” Jamie said. “When we build community within each of our villages, we’re also building communities and bridges across borders, cultures and oceans.
“It’s extending the village mission beyond our walls and beyond borders to connect with our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world to give them a hand up and to give them hope and healing and love and support in a way that’s tangible and real.
“In doing that what we’re really doing is not just helping them but we also help ourselves.”
And in doing so, the legacy of Wilfred and Emma Schlegel, in whose name Schlegel Villages seeks to improve and enhance the lives, is honoured.