Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Outreach Brings Running Water

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Outreach Brings Running Water

Article excerpt

Clean, running water is a luxury most Americans take for granted. In parts of Haiti, however, that's far from the case.

The Surfin' Plumbers, a Bradenton-based plumbing company, recently returned from a trip to Vignier, Haiti, where they installed plumbing for a school in the Changing Lives Ministry compound.

The compound was destroyed during the 2010 earthquake.

More than 500 children attend the school, and most never experienced running water before it gushed from the school's newly installed faucets.

"I have never seen anything like it in my life," Surfin' Plumbers owner Tab Hunter said. "The moment we cut the water on, the kids came out in droves just to wash their hands."

The company's relationship with Changing Lives Ministry extends back nearly a decade, starting with the friendship developed between Tim and Kathy Pritchard and the ministry's leader and preacher, Benite Jeune.

The Pritchards, who founded Pritchard Plumbing more than 30 years ago, met Jeune during a visit he made to Christian Retreat, where Kathy worked as a youth pastor.

Jeune, a native of Haiti, told the Pritchards that after attending college in Canada, he felt compelled to return and help the people of his poverty-stricken homeland by operating the ministry in Vignier.

In 2002, Kathy Pritchard arranged the first Christian Retreat youth trip to the Changing Lives Ministry compound.

The need for construction work was so great that the following year her husband joined her to lead projects in masonry, painting and plumbing throughout the compound.

Although no longer affiliated with Christian Retreat, the couple returns to Haiti each year to assist in construction projects, paying for the expenses themselves.

"I became most concerned with the practical needs in the village," Kathy said. "It's all open air with no electricity; they had to carry water back and forth in buckets just to bathe or wash their clothes. There's a definite poverty mentality there, and they need the help and encouragement to break free of it. …

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