Halloween party again aims to improve life of those with greatest needs
Less than a month ago, the ribbon was cut at the Eric P. Verbeeck Journey of Hope School in Ghana, the work of a devoted father and dedicated Rotarian who understands what Africa needs and how those needs should be addressed because he once lived there.
Again, Peter Verbeeck will raise money to build schools and bring fresh water to Ghana and Haiti with what is now an annual Halloween party, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Key Biscayne Beach Club, 685 Ocean Drive.
Festivities will include dinner, entertainment and a “safari raffle.” Costumes are optional. Caring is the norm.
Last year, about 175 people, about half in costume, attended.
“It is our second annual fundraiser with Rotary and Rotary International,” Verbeeck said. “Now we are raising funds to build a junior high school and (install) wells for fresh water.”
Verbeeck, who lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a decade while his mother, who worked for the State Department, and father, a businessman, were stationed there, saw that the school was built in Ghana “because it is a stable country” with a tradition of local Rotary involvement.
The Rotary Foundation, a non-profit corporation that supports the efforts of the million-plus-member umbrella organization Rotary International, has as its mission, “to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational and cultural exchange programs,” including the one Verbeeck has spearheaded.
“The Rotary Foundation is an amazing organization, rated in the top 1 percent of charitable organizations on earth by Charity Navigator (the nonprofit charity assessment organization),” he said
Verbeeck explained that the group operates in such a way that funds go to the Rotary Foundation, which offers matching grants and sees that all monies go directly to local Rotary clubs rather than through governments or other parties. All arrangements are handled by local Rotarians. Because it is done that way, spending is carefully monitored, eliminating the possibility of bribes or waste.
Local recipients also are required to “put skin in the game” by contributing what they can, including making the blocks from which the structures will be built, he added.
“Some villages won’t accept it, but once they see what we accomplish, they change their minds,” he said.
It all happens not only because of Verbeeck’s commitment to Rotary, but his devotion to a son lost too soon: Eric P. Verbeeck, who committed suicide last year at the age of 17.
“After Eric passed away, I thought it would be a great idea to name the schools after him,” Verbeeck said. “He would leave that legacy, and I think it’s a fine legacy to have.”
It is “who we are and what we do,” he added. “We change lives.”
If you go...
- What: Eric P. Verbeeck Journey of Hope School Halloween Party
- When: 6:30 to 11p.m. Oct. 26
- Where: Key Biscayne Beach Club, 685 Ocean Drive
- Why: To raise funds for fresh water and schools in Ghana and Haiti through the Rotary Foundation/Rotary International
Tickets: $65 in advance, $75 at the door
Contact: Peter Verbeeck, email@example.com, or mail checks to Peter Verbeeck, 151 Crandon Blvd. #502, Key Biscayne, FL 33149
The Rotary Club of Key Biscayne meets at 7:30 a.m. every Friday at the Grand Bay Club, 425 Grand Bay Dr., Key Biscayne. For information, visit the Rotary of Key Biscayne online.