Hometown rally for Haiti orphanage raises $11,000
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Diane McMutrie barely had wiped away one round of tears before another one began as she spoke at a community rally last night in honor of her daughters, Jamie and Ali, whose plight to get orphans in their care out of earthquake-stricken Haiti has drawn worldwide attention.
"I am so thankful that Jamie arrived today," Ms. McMutrie said, before bowing her head to compose herself.
Ms. McMutrie told the crowd of nearly 100 people who gathered at the Mayernik Center in Avonworth Community Park how much her family appreciates the overwhelming support her daughters have received since the earthquake destroyed Haiti's capital and left the orphanage Jamie and Ali helped run in tatters.
"The girls said to please say thank you all for everything you have been doing," Ms. McMutrie said.
The McMutrie sisters, both Avonworth High School graduates, had been working in Haiti at the BREMSA orphanage as volunteers since 2006. Two days after the earthquake hit, the family received a frantic plea from Jamie, saying the water was contaminated. She begged for an airplane to get them out of the country.
Ms. McMutrie told the crowd Jamie and Ali and the 54 children they brought to the United States are fine and still settling in at Children's Hospital. Ali McMutrie, 22, and 53 of the children arrived in Pittsburgh Monday, after Gov. Ed Rendell and Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, organized a rescue mission to bring the girls home.
Jamie, 31, refused to leave Haiti because she couldn't find one of the children, a 2-year-old named Emma.
"Ali crumbled to the floor," said Ms. McMutrie, who was on the plane. "She just didn't want to leave her sister.
Jamie and Emma arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday.
Also at Children's is a 3-year-old boy, Fredo, who is going to be adopted by Ms. McMutrie and her husband Sam.
She said she isn't sure when they will be able to bring Fredo home, but she's happy he's here and safe.
The rally's organizer, former Avonworth school board member Jack Connors, said he and his wife had read about the girls last month and he was already in the process of arranging a May golf outing to benefit their orphanage when he heard the news of how they were trapped in Haiti and living in a driveway with no food or water with the children.
After the rally, which was sponsored by the nonprofit group Avonworth Communities Together, Mr. Connors told Ms. McMutrie the group had raised more than $11,000 for the BRESMA orphanage.
In addition to the money the nonprofit will raise for the orphanage, Mr. Connors told the crowd there will be a scholarship set up at Avonworth High School called the "Jamie and Ali McMutrie No Child Left Behind" fund.
From her seat in the audience, Ms. McMutrie mouthed, "Thank you. Thank you."
"We are going to make sure those girls are remembered in Avonworth for a long, long, time," Mr. Connors said.
Ms. McMutrie said she has no doubt her daughters will return to Haiti and help rebuild the orphanage they have devoted their lives to.
"Their hearts are there. They love the children and they love the people of Haiti," she said. "They will be back there working. It won't be long."
First Published January 21, 2010 12:00 am