By Sherrie Norris
For two consecutive years, a Boone-based fundraiser will have a far-reaching effect in an effort to changes lives for the better.
The Second Annual Winter’s End Bluegrass Concert, scheduled for March 24, will once again extend a helping hand to the Widow’s Mite, a nonprofit organization through which a local group, including several healthcare professionals, are ministering to mostly women and children in Haiti.
Some of the area’s best known musicians, including Andy Trivette, Surefire and ClayBank will be donating their time and talent in support of this event, which will be held at Alliance Bible Fellowship in Boone beginning at 7 p.m.
The local group sponsoring the fundraiser, Heart for Haiti Widows Group, is part of Widows Mite Ministry, a branch of Real Love Ministry International, which was founded in 2011 with headquarters in Minotrie Haiti, near Port au Prince.
Local family nurse practitioner, Karen Criminger, who serves on the ministry’s board of directors, shared how the Widows Mite Ministry was started two years ago in response to the obvious extreme poverty and suffering of the Haiti widows and widowers. She witnessed their deplorable living conditions firsthand during a mission trip, she said, and felt led to intervene.
“Our widows and widowers have no means of obtaining basic life necessities such as food, shelter, medical care and in some cases, even water,” said Criminger. “Our ministry provides food on a monthly basis for 40-plus widows and widowers, as well as clothes, medical care, hygiene items — and most importantly, the love of Jesus Christ.”
Currently, the group is supporting widows in the villages of Minotrie, Monnoville, Thomazeau, Belladere, and most recently, on the Island of LaGonave.
A few of the group’s ongoing projects include purchasing land in the villages (for community gardens and orchards), buying dairy cows (for milk and yogurt), goats (for breeding and milking) and laying hens (for eggs and protein).
“We also provide water filters to help eliminate water-borne diseases, help build houses, as funds allow, monthly distribution of rice, beans, oil and sardines, when available, as well as discipleship.”
The ministry is also in the process of building a medical clinic, which Criminger said, will greatly benefit the widows and the entire region, as well.
Connie Trivette, a local registered nurse who joined Criminger last year on mission to Haiti, said she was touched by the great needs she witnessed there. “They have very little government assistance with no social programs, high unemployment, low wages and almost nonexistent infrastructure,” she described.
But, perhaps, the most impressive thing Trivette observed is that the people there have hope. “They are strong and keep trying,” she said.
“They have lived through devastating storms, earthquakes and many personal tragedies, they have lost loved ones, but yet, they love and appreciate any help they can get. Little things we do mean a lot to them.”
Trivette feels blessed, she said, to be a part of the ministry.
“In addition to the things we have done – or rather, what God has given us the privilege to do – we have helped with funds to build houses, and at Christmas, we collected enough items to provide 40 personal hygiene bags and $5 for each widow,” she added.
The group’s main goal, currently, Trivette, said, is to provide a monthly allotment of food for each of the 40 widows they are serving, but they can’t do it alone.
“The proceeds from this upcoming concert will go toward this feeding project,” she said. “The money we raised during last year’s event was used to fill the gaps when we didn’t quite make our monthly budget. That being said, we had enough money left at the end of the year (praise the Lord!) to purchase some land in one of the villages to be used for a garden to help feed the widows and orphans.”
Last fall, the group was asked to help a single mother of two children, who was pregnant; the children were malnourished and they were homeless. “Since she was not a widow — the father had just left them — we did a separate fundraiser for her and collected $300 selling soup at the Bolick Pottery Kiln opening,” Trivette explained. “The woman delivered a heathy baby last December. The ministry helped get her some housing, a missionary helped — and continues to visit — and the mom and her three children are now doing well.”
Sometimes, the needs are overwhelming, Trivette described, “But we continue to pray for guidance as we minister to these precious widows.”
Thankfully, too, the group has a few sponsors who make monthly donations, and some who give one- time gifts or occasional donations, but it’s not enough to meet the growing needs of the widows.
As Criminger and Trivette plan a return trip to Haiti in November, it is important to them that others know they do not use funds they help raise for their personal travel. Rather, they pay their own way, sometimes with the help of other sponsors such as family and church, and pack their luggage with items they can leave for the widows — “everything from clothing to food and hygiene items, anything we can stuff inside to leave with them.”
They hope to have other medical professionals join them in November “so we can do medical clinics in the villages,” Trivette added.
The local group meets on a regular basis in Boone to discuss the ministry needs, to plan fundraisers, to seek sponsorships, prepare for shipments of goods, and to address specific prayer needs of the widows, Trivette said.
“We would love for our High Country community to know about our ministry,” said Trivette. “And we will be happy to welcome new members.”
With representation of several area churches, Trivette, said the High Country group is small, but its members have been able to accomplish a lot in the past year.
“It seems that the Lord has magnified our efforts,” she added. “We are blessed to have Karen as our leader. She has a servant’s heart and truly gives her time to prayer and serving the cause — spiritually, emotionally and financially.”
In addition to Criminger and Trivette, local members include: Steve Criminger, Connie Nelson, Barb Rash, Theresa Bryan, Janet Calhoun, Rose Powers, Jessi Combs-Studstrup, Emily Calloway and
Other local individuals, including Kelley Wilson, serve through another branch of the Real Love Ministry, specifically with the children, many of who are orphans.
Real Love Ministry, which started with an orphanage, and has since expanded to include medical outreach ministry, a school and the widows ministry, is coordinated locally through CrossLink Church in Rutherford College.
For more information, visit reallovehaiti.org
Music for the ministry
It is not uncommon for local musicians to come together whenever and wherever there is a need, and the upcoming fundraiser is no exception.
Andy Trivette is a multi-instrumentalist from Sugar Grove who makes his home with his wife and children in Lenoir. The youngest of 11 children raised in a musical family, Trivette names his late father, Auborn Trivette, and his older brother, Gary Trivette, as his musical mentors and inspirations. A self-taught musician, Trivette loves playing everything from Doc Watson to Lynyrd Skynyrd on guitar, but is equally gifted on bass, mandolin dobro, fiddle, lap steel, harmonica and piano.
Surefire has been heating things up for the last decade, with founding teenager members John Bryan, Robby Norris and Tom Isaacs initially getting things off the ground. Since the group’s first recording in 2008, Surefire has become a household name and draws a crowd wherever they appear— at festivals, fundraisers and churches up and down the east coast.
Since their debut in 2008, they have released four CDs and are working on two more.
The original guitar player, John Bryan, now married, is touring professionally with The Grascals. Norris (married and father of three) and Isaacs, also married, are both employed fulltime, but never too far from their music. Isaacs continues to tour and record occasionally with a host of bands.
In addition to Norris and Isaacs, Surefire now includes long-time friend, Tim Norris on banjo, who has worked with them steadily through the years, and J.M. Trivette, another talented well- known local musician on bass.
Surefire can be seen locally throughout the year, especially as host band for the Red, White, and Bluegrass Jam in Boone. While they take their music seriously, the talented foursome love playing mainly just for fun these days.
ClayBank has risen quickly through the bluegrass ranks in the last couple of years and is now recognized nationwide as the bluegrass band to watch.
From its humble beginnings with jams and practice sessions on the West Jefferson road for which it was named, and home to two of its band members, ClayBank is proud to celebrate its heritage and the music that runs deep within its veins.
Since a “chance meeting” at a fiddler’s convention in Boone, and soon afterward forming the group in early 2015, the members of ClayBank have forged ahead at unbelievable speed in the music industry.
Currently signed with Mountain Fever Records ClayBank released its first single earlier this year, “Queen of Carolina” which is being heard on radio stations coast to coast. It’s the first single from the group’s upcoming album, No Escape, due for release April 27.
No stranger to bluegrass music, Gary Trivette on bass has found his niche as a mentor figure to his younger multi-talented band mates, including Tyler Thompson on the banjo, Jacob Greer playing guitar, and Zack Arnold on mandolin.
This award winning, four-piece band, who has taken the bluegrass circuit by storm, does not disappoint its audiences in its ability to combine dynamic instrumentation with powerful vocal abilities. Each member brings something unique to the group, and together, the musicians and vocalists are just as comfortable playing a hard-driving bluegrass number to singing an acapella gospel ballad with impressive harmonies.
For more information, including a complete tour schedule, visit www.claybankbluegrass.com. For bookings, contact Andrea Roberts at (615) 867-4468 or via email at [email protected]
Makes plans now to attend this high-energy concert for a good cause. Your contributions will go a long way in making a difference in the lives of widows and widowers in Haiti.