Treasure for THP

Newsletter issue: 
September 2014
News item date: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

by HPN Staff

Megan Callahan helms a table at the Madeleine Parish Garage Sale,
no detail overlooked in her tightly run crew.

      In 2000, the growing relationship between The Haitian Project and Madeleine Parish (Archdiocese of Portland, OR) manifested a small bake sale by the students of Madeleine School, the profits of which went to THP’s Louverture Cleary School (LCS). Soon, cookies became clothes and truffles turned into toys as the strengthened bond yielded a garage sale worth tens of thousands of dollars in support. In its 13th year, the Madeleine Parish Garage sale set a new record, raising over $30,000.

      The connection began when THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan recruited Brown University senior — and Madeleine parishioner — Moira Feeney to start a women’s empowerment program at LCS. Finishing the month-long project, Moira was so moved by the experience that she opted to stay a full year. This enthusiasm quickly rubbed off on Moira’s parents Anne and Dick, who brought THP’s mission to the attention of Madeleine Parish’s pastor Father E. B. Painter.

       As Anne joined THP’s Board of Directors, Fr. Painter initiated service trips for parishioners to LCS.  It was on one of these trips that Sally Kirchoff decided that more could be done on the home front to support THP and its missions.  Steve Holmes, a current THP board member, immediately offered his services, and with this - and the support of the parish - the Madeleine parish Garage Sale (MPGS) was born.

      The enthusiasm was catching.  Madeleine parish provided use of the parish hall and other facilities to host the sale, Holmes volunteered resources from his business, S&H Trucking, and further in-kind donations of year-round storage allowed the MPGS team to collect everything from bedroom sets to toys all year-round.  Their gifts and enduring generosity have allowed the sale to grow exponentially.

      Over the years, MPGS has become an annual provider of affordable goods to those in the Portland area, in addition t routinely raising tens of thousands for LCS.  In nearly a decade and a half of support from Madelein, Louverture Cleary's student body has more than double and the alumni population has grown to include more than 400 graduates excelling as doctors, priests, teachers and leaders of Haiti.

      Many hands have contribued to the leadership of the MPGS over the years, including Kirchoff, Bill and Fran Johnson and now Megan Callahan.  Of MPGS's current leader, Holmes notes, "Megan's calm and spiritual presence throughout the sale is a perfect fit for this event that takes a lot of effort and sacrifice from the parish community."

      As the garage sale expands, so do the hours of collecting, unpacking and labeling goods.  Callahan takes this all in stride, happy to "thrive on being busy," as she says.  If her fiver-year-old twin daughters fail to keep her so, organization of 60 volunteers or plans for year-round storage untis step up.  The two weeks before the sale necessitate constant focus on everything from setting up the Church to determining who will carry the heavier items to their proper places - a focus Megan sees worthy of an event she likens to a treasure hunt.  "It's work, but it's fun work," she said.  "I get as much out of it as I put in."

      Deacon Moynihan attests to the treasure to be found at the MPGS.  "I can't but be amazed given the tremendous outcome of this year's garage sale," he said.  "Although, I have to say that I had an inkling from the first day Sally asked, 'What can I do,' that great things would follow.