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    Thank you to all of our supporters for a great year! Please take the time to read our annual report to see the big difference you've made! 

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    All funds donated between November 10 and December 15 will be matched!

    Will you donate $5, $25, or more to our "Angel" Campaign?
    This will make a big difference in the lives of the children attending St. Gabriel's School, as each donation YOU give between now and December 15th will be matched!

    Please make checks payable to: Friends of Fontaine and mailed to our P.O. Box 11376, Albany, NY 12211.

    Or you can click on the “Donate” button on our main page, and donate online!

    Thank you!

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    At a recent meeting of the Friends of Fontaine Executive Committee, Pierre-Louis Joizil announced his 1, 2, 3 and 5 Year Plans along with some Long Term Practical Goals. Those plans and goals are listed below:

    -Establish a meal program for students, starting with three meals per week
    -Improve communications related to St. Gabriel's finances with FOF Board
    -Recruit community members to participate in a local School Board and Parents' Committee
    -Encourage more Board Members to visit Fontaine

    -Improve academic performance of seventh grade through tutoring
    -Expand biology program; obtain needed microscope

    -Add one grade per year until St. Gabriel's offers a full complement of secondary education by 2017
    -Expand the building to accommodate the increase mentioned above, including library and language labs
    -Move toward increasing the parents' contribution to the school's operating budget to 25%
    -Obtain a television and projector
    -Improve sports field for soccer and basketball
    -Obtain new computers
    -Install internet connection
    -Institute a school garden to provide crops for school meal program
    -Add an after-school program on days when meals are served
    -Experiment with growing one crop this year, for profit/meal program; seek agronomist to educate whole community on best practices
    -Institute teacher training program
    -Begin an arts teaching program, e.g. painting.

    -Schooling provides the next level of advance for the Fontaine community
    -Some St. Gabriel graduates will go to college and return to Fontaine to improve the community. Some will teach in Fontaine providing a shoulder up for the next generation. Some might become doctors, engineers, craftsmen, etc. who will contribute to Fontaine, Haiti and the world.
    -St. Gabriel's will provide the community with sources of drinking water and electrical power, providing help and hope to the community.

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    A meeting of the Friends of Fontaine Oversight Committee was held recently with St. Gabriel’s School’s Executive Director, Pierre-Louis Jozil and other interested participants resulting in the Committee.

    - Stressing the need to look for new project partners while maintaining a strong relationship with its present partners.
    - Emphasizing the need for continued and expanded communication with donors and all others involved.
    - Underscoring the need for more established auditing procedures as part of its fiduciary responsibility to the donors, St. Gabriel’s and the FOF membership.
    - Noting the increased rise in operating expenses and the need to review and prioritize expenses in accord with more realistic expectations in terms of incoming contributions.
    - Reviewing the positive influence the school already has had and is expected to have on the community of Fontaine, Haiti.
    - Recognizing the outstanding job to date performed by the school’s Executive Director, Pierre-Louis Joizil and the need to assist him with future mentoring services to further enhance his abilities.
    - Discussing the need to seek a way to conduct an academic evaluation of St. Gabriel’s.
    - Providing a program of on-going teacher training for the school’s faculty.
    - Enlarging the role played by MOJCAFON in the school’s sustainability. 
    - Learned about the inception of parents’ meetings at the school to better understand the academic and other needs of the students and faculty.
    - Agreed that issues related to hunger affect the learning ability of many of the school’s students leading to agreement that a realistic cost-based meal program be established.
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    (Below are excerpts from Kay Connolly’s welcoming words at the FOF First Annual Awards and Appreciation Dinner.)

    Our ministry really can’t be explained in any other terms except through the spiritual life…..a life of prayer and trust that God is always with us and will always take care of us. Father Noone always reminded us that there are no coincidences and in that light I think about the journey of St. Gabriel’s as people who said “yes” to what God was asking. Throughout scripture and the lives of the saints we read of many “yes's” that changed the lives of others.

    I like to picture God as sitting beside a very quiet pond back in 2010 wanting to show his love towards the people of Haiti and when he threw the first small stone that small ripple reached Father Mullen and Father said “yes.” With that “yes” Pierre-Louis had a scholarship to Siena so that he could continue his “yes” to what God was asking him to do, start a school and provide a way to educate the children in Fontaine. The ripple then reached the Coohills and they said “yes.” They opened their hearts and home to Pierre-Louis thus providing him with food, clothing and shelter. The ripple then reached Father Noone and he responded. “Yes.” The ripple then reached the parishioners of Christ our Light Catholic Church and they responded overwhelmingly “yes.” Their “yes” with their very generous collections not only started the building of St. Gabriel’s but provided the first well. No longer did people have to walk miles to the river to obtain water. The ripple then reached a small group of Christ Our Light Catholic Church parishioners and their “yes” became the Friends of Fontaine. The ripple then reached Nancy & Bill Jordan, owners of Let’s Share the Sun, and their “yes” along with some solar panels donated by GE brought light to the school and some homes through the lanterns they also donated and the ripples continued.
    As in building a new house, it doesn’t become a home until the family moves in, and begins to live their lives, dream big dreams and make memories. That is true of St. Gabriel’s. It was only a building in August 2012 but now it is home to 133 students. They have moved in, so to speak, and are starting to build big dreams, make memories all because so many of you answered “yes” and became sponsors.
    Unfortunately, we don’t have any major companies or organizations that are partnered with us YET!!! Maybe WE have to help God and throw out the next pebble….. “He has no other hands but ours.” So, we can’t let the “yes” stop. So, please join me in asking God to send a tsunami of ripples to others who will say “yes” I will be a sponsor; “yes” I will renew my sponsorship; “yes” my company will partner with you; “yes” my organization wants to join with you in helping to finish building St. Gabriel’s.
    And finally, if you aren’t in a financial position to help, maybe you would consider joining a committee. The Board meets once a month but as a committee we can do it by e-mail. Lots of things come to mind…..an ideas committee…..for one…..as I was leaving church yesterday, a gentleman stopped me and asked about Haiti, some things he was suggesting we might do, so I invited him to join the ideas committee and he said “yes.” And finally one very important committee….”How to Take a Bite out of Hunger.” Very shortly we will be having a delicious dinner something our children in Haiti do not enjoy. Our best estimation is that it will cost approximately $ .50 a day to feed a child in school. Will you be willing to volunteer to work with me to see if we can’t make this happen….that every child attending St. Gabriel’s has at least one meal? Off hand, I can think of one way in which everyone in this room can say “yes.” The next time you eat at a restaurant mentally add .50 to the bill. Then when you get home put that .50 in a jar or envelope and watch it grow. Then, simply mail your check to our PO Box and all of our individual “yes’s” will make a big impact on the meal program……
    Let me end by paraphrasing a passage from the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew. When it is our turn to stand before the throne of God, I pray He will look kindly at us and say… For I was hungry you gave me food. I was homeless you gave me shelter. When I wanted to learn, you built a school so dreams and memories could be made and these young people could grow up and become the people that they were created to be. So, thank you for all the times you said “Yes” to the many needs of others. ”Come. You have my Father’s blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. Thank you and God bless.

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    On October 26, the Friends of Fontaine held their first Appreciation Dinner at the Lakeview Restaurant in Colonie, New York with 145 supporters in attendance. Also present were Pierre-Louis Joizil, the founder of St. Gabriel’s School in Fontaine, Haiti and Father David Noone, the former pastor of Christ Our Light Catholic Church in Loudonville, New York, who invited the parishioners of Christ Our Light Parish to help build a secondary school in Fontaine, an invitation they enthusiastically accepted. The purpose of the dinner was to recognize individuals who had made outstanding contributions to the overall projects. The evening’s awards recipients were Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M., the President of Siena College in Loudonville, New York and Drs. Thomas and Patricia Trutty-Coohill, who were both, at the time, professors at Siena College.

    In accepting their award, the Coohills’ told the story of how their effort to secure scholarships from Siena College for students who were no longer able to attend the University in Port-au-Prince due to the devastation caused by the 2010 hurricane that struck Haiti. Dr. Thomas Coohill recounted approaching the President of Siena College, and the decision to opening their home as a residence for the students receiving scholarships was not only their compassionate response to the recovery effort that followed the hurricane but an opportunity to express appreciation to a Xaverian Brother who, at the time, was engaged in ministry in Haiti and who had greatly influenced Dr. Coohill's life during his high school years.

    Fr. Mullen recounted how the Coohills approached him and how, given the commitment being made by the Coohills, the desire to play a role in assisting Haiti recover from the hurricane’s devastation and the influence of the Franciscan spirit of assistance to those in need, which was imbedded in that community by its founder, St. Francis of Assisi, the decision to respond to the proposal made by Drs. Thomas and Patricia Trutty-Coohill was affirmative and swift.

    Not only did the dinner offer an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Fr. Mullen and Dr. and Dr. Coohills’ to the Haiti project but, thanks to the generosity of the many “Friends of Fontaine,” $8,000 was raised in additional funding that evening.

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    The Friends of Fontaine is now an IRS 501(c)(3) certified nonprofit organization. Your future donations will now be tax-deductible and we now qualify for most business’s donation-matching programs. Check with your employer to see if they can help!
    We would not have made such fast progress without the support of United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Gillibrand voiced her support for our work and urged the IRS to expedite our request for tax exemption. She specifically cited our success in creating new educational opportunities, providing access to clean water and our plans to start a school food program. Becoming a 501(c)(3) organization is a major milestone that will allow us to grow and do more to help the children of Haiti.

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    Tuesday May 7th, 2013


    St. Gabriel School in Fontaine, Haiti opened its doors for the first time in fall of 2012. Until then, education stopped after the sixth grade. Now, with financial support from many people, our school is alive and well and providing a first-time middle high-school education for 116 seventh, eighth and ninth graders.
    Our scholarship drive, “A Hundred Blessings” and “Are You In?” was a huge success providing scholarships for 109 students. Scholarships were provided by parishioners from Christ Our Light Catholic. The Friends of Fontaine include priests, Archbishop John Meyer, Newark, N.J. and our Deacon Dick and his wife, Joan. Parishioners from Blessed Sacrament in Albany, St. Michael the Archangel in Troy, St. Patrick’s Basilica, Oamaru, NZ and Non-Parishioners were also sponsors. The Scholarship Pool provided 15.
    Although this is very encouraging, our work continues. Much more needs to be accomplished to make our school a first-class educational facility but we are confident that God will provide. Our Haiti Board, made up of parishioners and non parishioners, knows that with God all things are possible but without Him we can do nothing. So, join us in praying that we will continue to answer God’s call to be His hands in Haiti. If you are blessed with a talent or gift that you would like to share or would like to join our Haiti Board, simply drop Kay an e-mail (dechantal19@aol.com.) You do not have to be a parishioner of the parish to be a member.

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    Friday, February 15, 2013

    By Sarah Vistocco '13

    After receiving a certificate of attendance in 2011, former Siena student Pierre-Louis Joizil returned to his hometown of Fontaine, Haiti with a strong plan for change that has led to involvement from the College community.

    In 2009, Joizil and two co-workers began an organization centered on reforming education, agriculture, the environment and health care in their country. They also hoped to spark economic growth. That work became even more important after an earthquake ravaged Haiti on January 12, 2010. The earthquake destroyed Joizil’s university, which is why Siena College provided scholarships to Joizil and fellow countrymen Canes Camil and Esperandieu Cenat. The men were able to complete their studies here and earn degrees from their university in Haiti.

    Even though Joizil has been back in Haiti for about a year-and-a-half, his work continues to inform Siena students of the Caribbean country’s needs. This knowledge inspired a few talented students to volunteer their time and service for the people of Haiti. “I believe it will work. Three men got together and decided to change the village,” Katie Williams ’13 said of Joizil and his co-founders.

    Nine students, including Williams and trip leader Vincenzo Polsinelli ’13, embarked on a Habitat for Humanity trip to the developing country during winter break. They spent nine days working and playing alongside children and students in Fontaine. They also painted the newly constructed St. Gabriel Middle-High School. While painting the school, the Siena volunteers taught English and learned a little Creole along the way.

    “I used to walk two hours each way to attend the nearest middle and high school,” said Joizil. That’s not the case in Fontaine anymore. Constructing the school there has made education accessible to 119 students in the area.

    Electricity is also a commodity in Haiti. “One out of 100 families in Fontaine has electricity,” said Polsinelli. Through the help of Siena students who aided in the installation of solar panels, St. Gabriel now has electricity. Polsinelli partnered with General Electric, which donated six solar panels, and Let’s Share the Sun, an organization in Troy, N.Y. that facilitates their installation in poor, disadvantaged areas of the world. Polsinelli said that the solar panel installation was accomplished by “Haitian technicians, which helped create good paying jobs.”

    Kerry Knott ’14 described the scene that took place during the group’s last night in Haiti. As night fell, she said the solar panels powered the school’s lights and celebratory music. The group then enjoyed a final dinner together. “Having the lights come on the last night of our stay in Fontaine was a culmination of our whole trip,” said Knott.

    The solar panels allow the Haitian students to use laptops that had been previously donated. They are able to study at night. Solar lanterns were also donated so that students may share the energy at home with their families.

    For the people of Fontaine, solar panels are just the beginning. Joizil has purchased a field for use as a chicken nursery, which will likely provide jobs. He hopes that more students regularly visit Fontaine to continue the growth. “All of our students are interested in English and computer knowledge,” Joizil said. Those skills could eventually help them land jobs, which are hard to come by in a country with 40.6 % (2010 est.) unemployment according the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

    Polsinelli plans to continue affecting Fontaine by returning with medical experience. “I plan on going to medical school and I plan on taking this project with me,” Polsinelli said. He wants to conduct research in the village and eventually create a clinic that will be run by the people of Fontaine.

    Although not every student will return to Haiti, their service will continue to promote growth in the village. Knott said, “The solar panels were not just a wonderful addition to St. Gabriel’s but also to the community of Fontaine as a whole. They are a physical representation of Fontaine’s step forward to a bright future.”

    Source: Siena College News

    Contact: Ken Jubie
    Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu


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    One of my favorite parts of the trip was interacting with the students and kids from Fontaine. They were some of the happiest people on the planet and the time we spent with them was absolutely fantastic. The children came from all over Fontaine to come play with us. Although we were ready to play, our knowledge of Creole did not really help us beyond saying hello and "what is your name". Almost every time we finished speaking the little creole we knew, we would make a funny face or do something to make the kids laugh. A smile and laugh are absolutely universal! The picture captured the fun we had with the kids when we told them to make a funny face. Of course we were unable to say that, so we had to show them! It was so much fun interacting with the children, even though we had a language barrier.

    - Carolyn Windover

    What impresses me most about the students at St. Gabriel's is how much they valued the opportunity they have to attend school. The students we painted alongside were eager not only to learn English but also to improve their pronunciation, as well as teach us Creole! I have taken for granted the fact that a free, accessible, and quality education had always been available to me. The same cannot be said for the students of Fontaine who work hard knowing that education is a key component to a brighter future for themselves and their families.

    - Annette Parisi

    When describing the best take away from the trip to Fontaine there isn’t a tangible response. While the mission of the trip originated as traveling to Fontaine to help Pierre Louis and his students paint St. Gabriel’s I quickly learned what our true purpose was. Building relationships and exchanging cultures with the members of the Fontaine community became the predominant purpose of our trip. The interactions I had with the students of St. Gabriel’s and the other members of the community are the best memories I will take away. Although, we did accomplish our goal of painting the school and bringing necessary color to the gray walls, working side by side with the Haitian students and learning about their lives, families, goals and aspirations was what made everything worthwhile. The Fontaine community was so welcoming and hospitable to us; they made us honorary members of their community and created an opening for future relationships and connections to be made. I had the wonderful chance to play and learn from so many of the St. Gabriel’s students. In particular Ivornel (pictured above) was able to teach me some Creole as I helped teach him some English. While early on it appeared that we would travel from Siena to Fontaine to help and teach the people there, upon our return home it was greatly evident that the people and children of Fontaine helped and taught us a great deal more than we could have ever shared with them!! 

    - Kerry Knott


With any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us via email


Friends of Fontaine
P.O. Box 11376
Albany, NY 12211

In Haiti

c/0 Fontaine, Paroisse Pignon
A/A Archeveche du Cap-Haitien
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