Garaway grads raising funds to build in Haiti

Submitted photo. Volunteers work hand-in-hand with paid employees with Blocks for Haiti to build homes out of unique bricks that lock together.

*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 4, 2018 Local Edition

By Beverly Keller
The Budget

For Garaway graduate Ty Hamsher, the summer of 2018 will start building dreams for others one block at a time.

However, Hamsher won’t be alone as several other former Garaway athletes as well as Garaway coaches are headed to Haiti as well. The project started when Hamsher and Dallas Foster were working together at ProVia last summer. “We started talking about what could we do that would make a difference, a real difference,” Hamsher shared. “We tossed around some ideas and were really focused on Haiti with all the destruction there. And then we started making a plan.”

Included in that plan were other former Garaway athletes including Quinn Miller and Austin Miller as well as Garaway coaches including Head Football Coach Jason Wallick and assistants Darrin Yosick and Preston Elmore as well as supporters and volunteers Ari Yoder and Nathan Bear. “This is a unique group, and I feel blessed that these are my friends, and we are going to do great things in Haiti together,” Hamsher shared.

Hamsher noted that the work of Marian and Zach Coblentz came into play with their organization, Blocks for Haiti. “What they do is so unique because they are able to build homes by employing people in Haiti to do to the work,” he explained. “They actually employ the people of Haiti to build homes and are able to impact not only the family who receives a home but also the hands that have built it. Just like that, a family will go from living in a tent to living in a home.”

However, Hamsher won’t be alone as several other former Garaway athletes as well as Garaway coaches are headed to Haiti as well. The project started when Hamsher and Dallas Foster were working together at ProVia last summer. “We started talking about what could we do that would make a difference, a real difference,” Hamsher shared. “We tossed around some ideas and were really focused on Haiti with all the destruction there. And then we started making a plan.”

Blocks for Haiti began in 2012 and was the work of the Coblentzes. The idea was simple: Every family deserves a safe place to raise their children and learn to love well. The first home was built in an area known as Canaan, just outside of Port-au-Prince. Following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, thousands were left homeless in Port-au-Prince. Many of those people came to Canaan, “the promised land,” and found a home on a barren hillside.

Over the past several years, as homes are built, bridges of sorts are also being constructed. “We aim to be a bridge between families we work with and resources that will empower them to a life of both financial and spiritual stability,” Marian Coblentz said.

The group currently employs a total of six full-time Haitian employees. Their goal is to train them with a solid work ethic, a desire to serve and a deep love of Jesus. “At the heart of all we do is the belief that the love of Jesus transforms us, and offers us a place in a beautiful grace- covered family,” Coblentz said. “We believe that block making and home building are a gateway to deep, long-lasting relationships. Our prayer is that each employee, each family and each team that joins us encounters the love of God in a real, life-changing way.”

The group utilizes a unique block-making machine that creates an interlocking concrete block that allows a home to be built to withstand the hard conditions that exist on the island like wind and driving rain.

Coblentz noted that American teams like the one being led by Hamsher are a key component as they work alongside the employees and the family receiving the home.

Hamsher noted that he is excited to work alongside the men on the team, in particular, the coaches. “They have invested in our lives so much, and I am excited to work with them while serving others,” he said.

He noted that each person on the team is responsible for raising the $1,200 needed for the trip, set for June 5 – 11. The group will fly into Miami and then from Miami to Port- Au-Prince.

“We are going to be working on building relationships and providing a real understanding of the Gospel of Jesus while we are there,” Hamsher shared. “We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus here and show compassion, understanding and a desire to help those in need.”

Anyone interested in supporting the mission is encouraged to send a check, payable to Evermore Community Church to Ty Hamsher at 508, Luzern Street, Sugarcreek OH 44681 with Garaway Haiti Trip in the memo line.