Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mcmutrie Sisters in Town for Haiti Benefit Ben Avon Natives Run Nonprofit for Families

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mcmutrie Sisters in Town for Haiti Benefit Ben Avon Natives Run Nonprofit for Families

Article excerpt

The last of the 54 Haitian children airlifted to Pittsburgh in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake in their homeland was adopted by an American family in March.

But Ben Avon sisters Jamie and Ali McMutrie, who helped bring those children to Pittsburgh 2 1/2 years ago, say their work helping families in Haiti has only grown. In an effort to keep struggling Haitian families intact, the sisters -- together again in Pittsburgh for the first time since the airlift -- say they are raising money and seeking grants to support their nonprofit Haitian Families First.

Their group's provision of basic supplies and services such as vitamins, medical care, breast-feeding support, child care and tuition assistance allows at least some Haitian parents to avoid the agonizing decision of surrendering their children to an orphanage because they can't support them at home, Ali McMutrie said.

Paying $100 a year for a child's school tuition, for instance, not only provides them an education and a meal but also allows both parents to work and keep their family functioning, she said. Likewise, teaching a new mother to breast-feed helps her provide good nutrition to her baby and save money on formula.

"We've seen kids go from literally starving to death to surviving and thriving based on that simple thing," said Ali McMutrie, at a cocktail party fundraiser Friday.

Ali McMutrie, 24, has been in town for several months while her sister, 32-year-old Jamie, continued to run the center in Port-au- Prince that also is their home, headquarters and sanctuary for the 40 needy families -- including about 100 children -- they are helping. Jamie McMutrie arrived this week and will return to Haiti next Sunday.

While here, they will visit with their parents and their adopted brother, Fredo, in Ben Avon and catch up with some of the Avonworth High School friends they last saw years ago.

Jamie McMutrie first traveled to Haiti in 2002 after a customer at the Denny's where she worked as a waitress told her about an orphanage in Port-au-Prince that needed someone to manage its programs, she said. …

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