A Mission Of Hope Becomes A Student’s Mission To Raise Money And Awareness About Poverty

Clare Whitney with two children she met on a trip to Nicaragua in February

Clare Whitney will never forget that day in February, when her life changed. It was on a humanitarian trip to Nicaragua, after she had witnessed first hand the poverty and hunger experienced by young children -- and the deplorable living conditions they live in -- that she felt what she now knows as a “mission moment.”

“My stomach dropped, I got goose bumps. From that point on I was different,” Clare, a Junior at Schroon Lake Central School, told us today.

“Up until that point I was feeling happy about the work we were doing on the mission. I was journaling and was feeling guilty and a little sad that I hadn’t had my mission moment.”

But everything changed after she met an 11-year-old girl, Izayana at the Chiquilistagua Public School, which is housed in what Clare believes is an old auto shop.

“The windows are broken, the floors are concrete, there are two bathrooms that are barely usable. We spent some of our time on the mission installing electricity in two rooms of the school. After meeting Chiquilistagua, everything was different and that’s when I sponsored her.”

In the days before meeting Chiquilistagua, Clare and her group, part of the North Country Mission of Hope, had helped build 13 home shelters. It was the 44th trip of the Plattsburg, New York based group. Among those on the trip was fellow Schroon Laker and mission veteran, Bill Calmbacher.

“They are very humble homes made from wood and corrugated metal. Each home costs $650 and the Nicaraguans who will live in them help with the construction”.

Clare was able to raise $650 -- the cost of a home -- from her savings and help from friends and family before the trip. But after her return, Clare was empowered to do more: setting a goal for herself to raise $10,000 by the end of 2012.

With that money 130 students, from Pre-K to high school, will be able to get a school lunch every day for a year. And to raise those funds, Clare is organizing a 5K Run and a Kids Fun run at the Schroon Lake Central School, followed by a dinner at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

The event -- to be held on Saturday June 16, is called Hearts and Feet “Corazones y Pies” a play on words with the Mission of Hope’s Hearts and Hands “Corazones y Manos” motto. The Kids Fun Run begins at 9 am and the 5K starts at 9.30am.

“I didn’t want to just ask people for donations. I learned first hand that there is a lot of satisfaction in doing something like we did in Nicaragua. That’s why the run was important.” Clare said its ok if folks want to walk the course.

“I decided to host the dinner for people who want to help but can’t run. It’s going to feature rice and beans and chicken, typical food that Nicaraguans eat”.

There is a suggested donation of $40 per person for the 5K. The dinner runs from 4.30pm to 8 pm and costs $10 for adults and $5 for students and kids five and under. For those who run that day the cost is $1.

For those interested in the run, you can email Clare at Clare.Whitney95@yahoo.com or call her at 518-532-9222.

If you can’t make it on the day, you can still help by mailing a check made out to Clare Whitney or North Country Mission of Hope, to PO Box 681, Schroon Lake, NY 12870.

We wish Clare all the best and encourage those who can to help out.