Jim & Mary Ann Loafman: Hearts Out To Haiti
By Maria Sonnenberg // October 20, 2013
2013 central florida humanitarians
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – James and Mary Ann Loafman’s retirement hasn’t been what most people would choose. But not for a moment has it been any less enjoyable or rewarding. The couple spent 13 years in retirement traveling to Haiti on extended mission trips every three months.
“It was a wonderful, joyful thing to do. We thoroughly enjoyed it,” Mary Ann said.
The couple stepped aside last year to make room for a younger couple to take over the organization.
They had retired early – Jim was a mechanical engineer, Mary Ann worked in computers – and began looking for a way to serve the poor. Their pastor at the time, Father Page at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community, asked them to join him on a trip to Haiti.
“We fell in love,” Mary Ann said. “We went on our first trip, and that was it.”
The friendliness of the people and the simplicity of the lifestyle were a revelation. “You’re right there. You’re in the present moment,” she said. “One of the entertainments was talking.”
They founded an organization, “Hearts Out to Haiti,” and started making regular trips. During the first couple years, they focused on medical missions but soon saw they could make a bigger impact on their limited budget by focusing on education.
They focused on three villages, building schools if needed, and helping to pay for teachers. Previously, many of the teachers were volunteers. So if something came up, a teacher might not go to work. If teachers were unreliable, parents might stop sending their children and instead, keep them home to work.
Every three months, the Loafmans would take a team to Haiti. Sometimes, the team members would be teachers, who would train the Haitian teachers. On other trips, they offered manual labor to help build or maintain infrastructure. They work in partnership with Haitians, toiling alongside village residents and equipping them to continue the work without help.
PROVIDING EDUCATION, MEDICAL CARE
Today, Hearts Out to Haiti helps pay for 130 teachers, serving 5,000 children. The three schools the group worked with are accredited by the Haitian government, a distinction the Loafmans are proud of.
Earlier this year, the couple attended a graduation ceremony for one of the schools they’d started. The students in the graduating class were the school’s first kindergarteners.
Among the many accomplishments of “Hearts Out to Haiti” includes:
• Provide yearly salaries for 130 teachers through the Adopt a Teacher Program.
• Provide on-going educational and computer training for teachers.
• Provide yearly worm medicines for more than 2,000 children in three parishes.
• Constructed the 10-room, two-story Fr. Bruny High School in Les Palmes.
• Installed a computer lab supporting more than 15 laptop computers in Les Palmes.
• Constructed a kindergarten at St. Michel’s in Morne a Chandelle.
• Constructed a bridge in Durissy.
• Constructed three outdoor toilets in Les Palmes and Morne a Chandelle.
• Constructed a cistern in Les Palmes.
• Constructed two-bedroom rectory and cistern in Morne a Chandelle.
• Distributed more than 1,000 New Testament Creole Bible and 10,000 rosaries to school children.
• Conduct yearly Vacation Bible School Programs for 1,100 children.
ABOUT THE 2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN AWARDS
The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world.
This year, more than 30 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.
“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Maverick Multimedia Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.
“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.
This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Brighthouse Networks, Health First, Brevard Physicians Network, MPAC ACO, Community Credit Union, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, Florida Pain, Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, CentralFloridaMedicine.com and SpaceCoastDaily.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-615-8111 or e-mail SpaceCoastMedicine@gmail.com.