College student Olivia Mascari, who grew up in Rockville, has traveled twice to Haiti to work as a volunteer helping a community in the impoverished nation with tasks such as construction and feeding families.
The trips are the result of her longtime involvement with Life Connection Mission of Germantown, a nonprofit group that’s been providing aid to Montrouis, Haiti, for almost 25 years.
“It’s really cool to see there’s so many families that are supported by the mission, it’s not just individual people,” she said.
Siblings Peggy and Dale Moyers took over the mission’s leadership shortly after it was founded in 1998. The Germantown residents own lawn service company Moyers Landscaping in Rockville and sought help from fellow county residents to provide aid including food, health care and education to around 500 children and their families in Montrouis.
According to the mission’s website, the village doesn’t have running water, electricity or adequate supplies of safe food. Villagers drink water from the same river that is used for bathing and washing clothes. Most children “do not eat daily, sleep on a bed, or receive an education,” the website says.
The mission holds an annual yard sale in October, which serves as its biggest fundraising event. Scheduled for Saturday, the event typically raises around $30,000 for the mission to spend on the village’s most pressing needs, such as a medical clinic, a preschool or a computer center, according to organizers.
Olivia Mascari will be flying home from Tampa this weekend for Saturday’s yard sale. Now a junior studying at the University of Tampa in Florida, she attended St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Rockville, which works closely with the mission — the school’s principal, Christie Anne Short, is president of the mission’s board of directors.
The yard sale is a “tremendous” collaboration with hundreds of volunteers who donate items starting a week before the event, according to Short. The sale will take place at St. Patrick Catholic Church at 4101 Norbeck Road in Rockville.
“It is such a great feel-good opportunity for parents to get their kids involved, for parents to get involved, to do it as a family and to help people that most of us will never meet,” said Anne Mascari, Olivia’s mother.
Anne Mascari, a small business owner who lives in Rockville, said she wanted to get her family involved with helping others back when Olivia was in kindergarten. The part of the yard sale that appealed to her the most is that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the mission, she said.
This year, the mission’s goal is to bring about a “more positive spirit” in the village rather than start any new projects, according to Short.
“Coming out of some difficult financial times, we are looking to sustain what we have and protect our assets,” Short said.
The organization plans to repaint the village school for the first time in about 20 years. The school serves children in preschool through high school, and kids receive a quality education, a free meal every day, uniforms and books, according to Short.
The mission’s daily operations in Montrouis are run full time by about 15 Haitians, including a school administrator, a hospital administrator and a doctor, according to Short. With more operations shifting online because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Germantown mission has been able to meet more regularly with those in Haiti through video conferences.
“We are looking to offer salary increases to our guys in Haiti because they’ve done the most during the hardest time,” Short said. “We would like to reward them, knowing they have families, and help with the tremendous cost of inflation.”
Gaithersburg resident Carrington Boyd, 22, started volunteering with the yard sale at age 10 when she was a student at St. Patrick’s Catholic School. She’s traveled to Haiti with the mission four times, assisting with tasks such as rebuilding homes and running a mobile clinic, which is similar to a doctor’s office in a place where people don’t typically have access to health care.
“It’s just been amazing to work directly with people who are from Haiti in the yard sale, come and volunteer, and then to be able to go years later and see all the progress and development that’s been a direct result of all of our volunteering from the yard sale,” she said.
If MoCo360 keeps you informed, connected and inspired, circle up and join our community by becoming a member today. Your membership supports our community journalism and unlocks special benefits.