Elmore Co. man plans ambitious mission to Haiti

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When Haiti was torn asunder by a massive earthquake in January, Tom Benz knew he had to do something.

"It was that critical event that brought us to this place," said Benz.

A vision on the verge of becoming a reality, Tom Benz is just weeks away from bringing in 10 Haitian orphans to Bridgestone farm, a ranch located some 30 miles north of Montgomery, a 140-acre spread where Benz and his staff plan to teach English, preach the Gospel and prepare them for adoption.

"There are number of families who have said to me we specifically want to adopt a Haitian child," said Benz.

To understand how Tom Benz got to this point he started Bridges of Faith 15 years ago with the focus on snatching orphans in Eastern Europe from an uncertain future.

"I know in Ukraine when a child graduates from the orphanage after 5 years, 10% of the kids attempt suicide," Benz said.

Now Benz wants to make a difference with Haitian orphans. Benz will rely on 11-year old Kelsey Bradley to help him.

"I brought in paper plates," said Bradley.

Bradley is among the 345 students at Alabama Christian Academy who spent a week bringing in items like toothpaste, toothbrushes and clothes.

All this will comfort the Haitian children when they arrive at Bridgestone in about 6 weeks.

"You don't know how much you can give until you give it," said Bradley.

Word of what Tom Benz is trying to do also reached Montgomery accountant Sheri Jones.

"It became a little project of ours," said Jones.

Jones heard about the mission at her church and she, too, sent out a request at her job. The response was more than she expected and is now about to deliver a really big box of supplies.

A real life lesson in paying it forward.

"If you just start something, you never know what it will turn into. A big effort by a lot of people," said Jones.

The Haitian orphans Benz hopes to bring home range from infants to teenagers. Little do they know their world is about to change for the better.

Tom Benz says it will take about $20,000 to pay for everything including passports and flights to and from Haiti. He says he's gotten around $5,000 in commitments so far from private donors.

Benz says he personally won't handle the adoptions. That will be left up to area adoption agencies.

If you're interested in learning more about Benz's mission call him at 334-221-0385

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