Pine Island High School senior Brooke Salferis just a few weeks away from graduation and already could teach people a thing or two about philanthropy.
Eighteen-year-old Brooke has been fundraising since November to build homes in Haiti, where there are two homes being built due to her efforts.
"It all started in August when I traveled to Port au Prince, Haiti, for 10 days on a mission trip through my church (St. Michael's Catholic Church)," she said. "There, I, along with 10 others from my parish and our sister parish, stayed with the Sisters of Charity. We helped to feed, care for and love malnourished Haitian children from the ages of 0 to 8 years old.
"When it came time to leave Port au Prince and return to America, I felt guilty that I could return to such a fortunate life," Brooke said. "I left Haiti knowing my journey wasn't done yet; my trip was simply the spark that started a roaring flame of passion to help the unfortunate souls in Haiti."
Brooke has been working with the relief and development organization Food for the Poorto help secure homes for families in Haiti.
The fundraising has been done through free-will donation, bake sales, a meal at her church, a Zumba class, a canvas painting class, and she wrote letters to local businesses explaining her cause and asking for any feasible donation. She asked for money from family for Christmas and her birthday to donate for the house.
"I am eternally grateful to the generous community I live within," Brooke said. "I couldn't have raised the funds without the support of community members, friends and family. I would just like to stress how truly thankful I am to everyone who supported me throughout this process through thoughts and prayers, encouragement and financial donations. It wouldn't have been possible without all of the generous, kind people in and around my community."
Her fundraising total to date is $3,603.40. "When I reached out to Food for the Poor and told them about my amount, they came back saying that not only one, but two homes would be built," she said. "They didn't really elaborate on that, so I'm not exactly sure how that worked out, but I feel blessed, and I am so excited."
This fall, Brooke plans to attend Bethel University in St. Paul to study biokinetics. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate in physical therapy.
At this moment, there are no set plans for her to return to Haiti, but she knows she will travel there again someday.
"My heart overflows with my passion for the country of Haiti, and I can't wait to offer my services again," she said.