(Cheyenne is pictured second over from the left.)
The man, the myth, the living legend, Father Rick Frechette, had been a mystery man for months. At the end of my junior year, me and a group of friends decided that we truly wanted to make an impact in our community. Our goal was to convince our school, Ransom Everglades School, to launch a school-wide global initiative. We planned to do this by adopting an orphanage located in Kenscoff, Haiti. The global initiative is about more than providing supplies collected during a drive or check sent from funds raised at bake sales - it is about a sustainable partnership between Ransom Everglades School and St. Helene orphanage and providing resources through campus-wide engagement. The final step in establishing the Ransom Everglades Haiti Initiative proved to be the most difficult; meeting the man who runs the St. Helene orphanage we planned to adopt, Father Rick.
When I first came in contact with Father Rick through email he expressed his gratitude but explained that traveling for him was difficult and often short noticed. I quickly realized that Father Rick did not just run the orphanage he also got his hands dirty with the daily mundane tasks of the orphanage. Although I wanted to meet with Father Rick and discuss the Haiti Initiative in detail that meant pulling him away from the children I wanted to help. We proceeded with the hopes of meeting him down the line.
Ransom Everglades School launched its first initiative and was able to raise over 750 sheets between both the lower and upper campuses. It was shortly after the first container of sheets shipped that I received an email from Father Rick stating that he planned to be in Miami. I was more than thrilled about the possibility of meeting the man I had only been able to view on video. On December 3rd, I had the pleasure of meeting Father Rick. During his school-wide address he stated that the difference between the children in Haiti and the students at Ransom Everglades was simply the structures of our lives were different. Father Rick, in less than 10 words, shed light on the need for our initiative.
One of the main principals of the Ransom Everglades School is to give to the community more than you have received from it. St. Helene and Ransom Everglades Schools are hundreds of miles apart and we share a similar commitment to community. Just as Ransom alum often come full circle to give back to the institution that gave them so much, children from St. Helene often return to the orphanage to help and contribute to the program that gave them so much.
Having the opportunity to meet Father Rick was truly remarkable. Father Rick has such a passion for his life’s work. Even in the face of disaster and peril, his spirit is one of resilience. His visit today has inspired me and the other members of the Haiti Initiative Committee to do the work that Father Rick so desperately needs help with. This marks the beginning of true sustainable partnership between Ransom Everglades and Father Rick that will contribute to his amazing legacy.