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FROM READERS: Children in Guatemala need Columbia residents' help

Monday, May 21, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Crystal Umfress is a community involvement coordinator at the Foundation for the Higher Good.

The Foundation for the Higher Good (FHG) is a nonprofit organization in our community that is dedicated to engaging our community and promoting the health and well-being of children and families around the world. We are celebrating the success of our 5th annual Fiesta de Guatemala.

The Foundation for the Higher Good

Website: www.makeadifference.me

Phone: Crystal Umfress, Community Involvement Coordinator, 239-9326

Email: Crystal@makeadifference.me



On Friday, May 4, the Foundation for the Higher Good hosted our annual Fiesta de Guatemala at Columbia's newest venue — Fr. Tolton Catholic High School. The evening included an authentic Guatemalan dinner sponsored by Room 38, a performance by Caleb Rowden, salsa dancing lessons by Mizzou Latin Dance Club and a live auction.

"The event was a success," stated Chuck Worstell, president of the Foundation for the Higher Good. We raised over $15,000 to benefit the Guatemala Milk Program. This wouldn't be possible without our sponsors: area Rotary Clubs, Tolton and Room 38 Restaurant & Lounge.

Two of the Foundation for the Higher Good's main projects consist of Make a Difference Week and the Guatemala Project. Make a Difference Week is a weeklong celebration of volunteerism led by the Foundation for the Higher Good. This year, Make a Difference Day is Oct. 27. The foundation encourages organizations and individuals to plan a volunteer activity during the week of Oct. 20-27 to support worthwhile charitable organizations and causes, both locally and abroad.

The Foundation for the Higher Good's mission is to help you find the path you were intended to walk on. Identify your passion — is it working with children, veterans, the elderly or animals? Then, find a need locally or abroad and start making a difference. Teaching others to give back is essential to our community. Compassion is one of the basic values: That if others see a need, whether it's around the corner or thousands of miles away, they should feel compassionate to do whatever they can do to help. Our mission is to help others find compassion and get involved.

FHG has partnered with Father's Heart Clinic to provide milk, formula, cereal and vitamins to undernourished children and pregnant nursing mothers. High-risk infants and children who may die can gain weight and begin to thrive with the help of the Milk Program. Tiny and underweight babies are brought to the Father's Heart Clinic by hopeless mothers looking for help. Fifty-one percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, and 15 percent on less than $1 a day. Guatemala's social development indicators, such as infant mortality, chronic child malnutrition and illiteracy, are among the worst in the hemisphere.

In October, FHG hosts an annual coin drive, "Carton full of Coins," and encourages local clubs, organizations and schools to participate. Central Dairy provides milk cartons for students to take home and fill with spare change. The cartons are collected, counted by Commerce Bank, and the proceeds benefit the Guatemala Milk Program.

"This is a unique program for the Girl Scouts," said Kalene Aslanidis, Girl Scout troop leader. "The girls learn compassion for others as well as nutrition, geography and philanthropy."

The Foundation for the Higher Good hosts service trips to Guatemala and Mexico twice a year. In the summer of 2011, 20 men from The Crossing went to Chichicastenango, Guatemala, to continue the construction on the expansion of Father's Heart Clinic.

In the summer of 2012, Columbia will be sending teams from Christian Fellowship Church, The Crossing, Columbia Independent School and area Rotary Clubs. 

In 2012, during our service project trip, we will be serving patients in the clinic, supplying equipment for a physical therapy clinic, building and furnishing a school for the handicapped children — all while continuing to feed more than 200 infants. The unique part of this international project is that most of the money, the volunteers, the staff, even the founders all come from within our community. It is truly our community putting service above self.

We hope you will join us in making a significant difference. There are many opportunities whether in children's ministry, service projects, the milk program, physical therapy program or building a school.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's howSupervising editor is Joy Mayer.


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