When most people think of Trinidad, located at the southern end of the Caribbean chain of islands, images of people draped in exotic colored costumes parading down the street to pulsating rhythms often comes to mind. Trinidad is also a country peppered with mountains and tranquil beaches. But like many of the other islands in the West Indies, the gap between rich and poor can be wide.
South Florida teen Shannon Weisz is no stranger to the island; her mother, Blanche, was born there and Shannon has traveled there many times. But it was something the 17-year-old saw in August that prompted her to action.
“I’ve been traveling to Trinidad since I was 8 years old,” said Weisz. “But when I went to my cousin’s wedding this last trip, I had some down time, so I ventured out. I saw the condition of the houses some of the people were living in. I love the people of Trinidad and Tobago and I was compelled to do something because everyone deserves to have a decent roof over their head.”
While in Trinidad, Weisz volunteered with Living Water Community, a Catholic Lay Ecclesial Community in Port of Spain. It was there through a chain of events that she learned about Food For The Poor and the charity’s home building projects. Food For The Poor has been serving in Trinidad for 19 years and has built homes there since 2005.
When Weisz returned to her Boca Raton residence, she met with her parents and shared her idea for a fundraiser with her older sister and two younger brothers. Since carnival has become synonymous with Trinidad, which was brought to the island by French settlers in the late 18th century, it was no surprise the spunky Cardinal Gibbons High School Senior decided on a carnival theme for her Nov. 13 fundraiser at Bayview Park located in Fort Lauderdale.
Weisz says about 300 people attended the game-filled fundraiser and 30 volunteers helped her to raise money to build a house in Trinidad. The teen presented Food For The Poor’s President/CEO Robin Mahfood with a check at the charity’s headquarters in Coconut Creek.
“We are blessed and humbled by the philanthropic spirit of many of our young people today. Food For The Poor provides a number of services to millions throughout the Caribbean. Some islands need more help than others, but in the end sustainable housing for as many people as possible is a top priority. Shannon’s donation will soon provide a home for a family in Trinidad,” said Mahfood.
Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.